How to help older and younger advisors get out of their own way and collaborate

It is a statistical fact that the average age of the financial advisor is 51 or older. And, the majority of their clients are the same age or older than they are.  This is not new news.

In my humble opinion, to do the best thing for your clients whom you have worked so hard to find and build, having some sort of ‘contingency plan” or succession plan is not only common sense, it is your fiduciary duty.

What if, God forbid, something happens to you or your loved ones? I know none of us wants to think this way, but the expression “you could be hit by a bus” is statistically significant, especially when considered metaphorically, and now with COVID?!

Plus, when you factor in the situation if it was your loved one, this doubles the odds, or possibly more! Trust me, I do not mean to be doom and gloom, but I was a very successful wealth advisor who at the age of 42 had to sell my practice to my partners due to severe heart issues. I was a triathlete, thought I was in control, then everything went dark!

If I didn’t already have a team in place, a team my clients knew well… I would have been in trouble! My clients would have been possibly angry and certainly disappointed and chances are likely the trust factor would be gone, or at least severely negated!

If your immediate response is; this won’t happen to me, I can almost guarantee you know of someone who thought the same thing…

Another point to ponder: when you are having that planning meeting with your client, encouraging them to make sure they and their family are protected in their future, their employees and/or clients are protected in their future, and they turn and ask you what have you done for your clients, your team, your family, and you have no answer for them? Don’t you think they would look at you like your nuts!? Being hypocritical? Don’t you think they would feel some real concern regarding whether or not you are the best advisor for them?…..

Run your business like a business! Remember that saying?

The irony is, we consistently encourage our clients to have a will, power of attorney, get their estate in order, but do we?? Just as doctors make the worst patients, often due to ego, believing we are omnipotent or somehow immortal… wealth advisors believe that they will never retire, never get sick, their loved ones will never need their full attention requiring them to retire/leave.

Having a succession plan is not admitting that you are fallible, it is just good business!

Dear Ego, please wait outside…

Yes, I know, this topic again. But wait, I promise; new data, and a new perspective! In fact, that is the main crux of this blog! With all due respect, I am so tired of hearing Boomers and even Gen X’ers (me) with their assumptions that Millennials are entitled, lazy and disrespectful. I am equally as tired hearing from Millennials that Boomers are egotistical, hard headed and totally stuck in their old ways. I beg you to STOP! This negative criticism and bias is helping no one, least of all you. Here’s an idea, how about becoming curious as to WHY the other person is this way… or if they even are?! How do you feel when a person makes a total assumption about you based on your age, how you are dressed, your facial expressions… doesn’t feel very good does it?

Bottom line, every person is an individual worth getting to know. Whether you are interviewing for a younger team member, a new advisor interviewing for a job, a more senior advisor meeting the younger family members of their existing clients, a newer advisor trying to build their book with older prospects. 

Start the discussion with a clean slate, no judgment, no preconceived notions. Is it helpful to use statistically significant data based on age, demographics and the person’s history, absolutely! Use this information to draft your discovery questions.

Use this information to have a sense of what kind of discussion the other party MIGHT want to have. But please, DO NOT ASSUME you know the person until you have respectfully asked them these discovery questions and then actively listened to their answers. All the details you need to know about a person, what they want from you, need from you, what their goals are, their dreams, their fears.

If you know what questions to ask, how to listen, and then how to guide them even a little bit deeper to the truth. When you know how to do this while providing a safe space with no judgment, only empathy, understanding and ideas of how to help? That is when the critical foundation of trust begins to build. That is when you begin to build loyalty. 

Reciprocal Mentoring CFP® Pros

We all have a lot to learn. Whether we think we do or not, we do. Men from women, women from men, younger generations from older and yes, older from younger. I would ask that the first word that you put in your mind is CURIOUS.

What have they experienced that I have not? Or what is the perspective they drew from a similar experience? Different is not wrong, it is just different. Therefore collaboration is so absolutely critical! Listening to what other people saw, heard, noticed.

It is a fact that some people can view and define the meaning of certain body language, tone of voice, facial expressions. Some people cannot. Some people are best suited to be the presenter in the meeting, and others the observers.  Do you know yourself, do you know your team well enough to know who should do what?

The older generations tend to bring the sense and feel of assurance and experience. The younger generations are often full of new ideas about how to do a task more efficiently, faster. I apologize for my assumptions here, but typically older generations, based on their years in the business may be better at picking up the “non-verbal’ clues, if they know what to watch and listen for.

The younger generation is exceptional at keeping up with the conversation, taking the notes… their brains work faster, absorb data and words more quickly.

So, as an example, when you ask a younger CFP® Pro to please join you and take notes, it might help them feel more empowered if you explain to them that it is not because they are forced to do the more menial tasks, it is simply because you acknowledge that they are likely to pick up the words more quickly, and, let’s face it, they can probably type faster.

Then, assure them that after the meeting, you will sit down with them to discuss the meeting. Ask for their observations, summary of tasks and next steps. Then, discuss with them the more subtle things that you picked up, why and how. This reassure both of you that you are working as a team and inspires loyalty and trust.

Julie Johnson started her career in 1996 as a rookie with Smith Barney in Denver. By 2007 she and her team managed over $1B in AUM. They moved their team and every client, including pensions, foundations, 401k’s, family offices, and ultra HNW individuals, to UBS in the Fall of 2007, and then came 2008.

Julie was named SVP with UBS, her team received Barron’s top advisor and top team awards during her tenure. On multiple occasions, she was invited to speak and consult on practice management, sales, and business development.

In 2016 Julie began her career as a full-time certified coach, consultant, public speaker, and author. She was engaged to consult with advisors and speak at such esteemed national conferences as Barron’s and Fidelity, as well as several regional conferences, both in person and virtually, with FPA, Forbes, Morgan Stanley, Wealth Management, UBS, Ameriprise, BNY Mellon, just to name a few.

Julie Johnson President & CEO
XY Communication

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