Graduates can fill the advice gap, as Baby Boomers retire

Graduates can help fill the advice gapI recently had the opportunity to speak with Alisdair Barr, Director at Grad Mentor. Grad Mentor is a Specialist Resourcing provider that connects small to medium financial planning principals with the right graduate talent. During the conversation, Alisdair pointed out to me a significant industry trend that isn’t getting any better. We’ve got a baby boomer population in need of financial planning advice, yet we’ve got a trickle of Gen Y advisers coming into the planning industry. It’s like a python trying to eat a horse.

I challenged Alisdair about some concerns practice owners have about graduate adviser recruits, and in the spirit of Adviser Marketing Week, I’ve shared the potential marketing opportunity for your advice business too.

1. Experienced advisers think younger advisers are too technical and have no sales / business development skills

“Absolutely. When they were 20 they didn’t have those skills either.  To enter the industry today, a graduate to will need to have a tertiary qualification – so technical skills are front and centre. In recruiting younger advisers, we can find all those abilities that build rapport and undertake business development. We look at things like their upbringing, part time jobs they’ve had, if they grew up in a country area, if they’ve played team sports, and how well they communicate. So what you can do is identify traits that will be beneficial to learning those skills. They do need to learn it on the job.” – Alisdair Barr.

Marketing opportunity: Free yourself up by employing a grad to write SOA’s, ROA’s and undertake administration, so more experienced advisers within your business can focus on new business and client acquisition. Once they’ve grown into your process, mentor them and set them a new business target of their own.

2. Younger advisers need a service delivery process to follow, because they need to learn how to implement the theory.

“Having a service delivery process is a prudent. To build relationships and meet compliance, they should have a process. Over time, they might transform the process into their own. That’s the beauty of young people; they don’t come with a process inbuilt, so you can mould them into your own advice process.” – Alisdair Barr.

Marketing opportunity:  A young adviser might be a great aid for service delivery improvement. They get the advice process and don’t come with inbuilt expectations. They might have fresh ideas on how to implement advice better for clients.

3. Reputation matters to graduates – they care about the kind of organisation they work for, it has to reflect their own values.

“Yes. There are some really interesting brands that they connect with, but big brands aren’t right for every graduate. Advice businesses that articulate their brand and/or meaning well, even in a small business, attract graduates because they’ve bought into the leadership and style of the business. I don’t see that changing” – Alisdair Barr.

Marketing opportunity: Grow your business on your values and ideas – and make this front and centre of your marketing efforts. And while you’re selling advice right now, one day you might want to sell your business. Who better to sell it to that someone who likes your leadership and style of business?

4. Younger advisers need to learn about customer service, because sometimes they’ve got little to no experience.

“Yes that’s true. But they’ve got the ability to learn just like more experienced advisers have. We’ve got to separate values from experience. Young people can still have what are considered ‘old fashioned values’ about looking after people. So when we recruit, we look more at their base line values which provides a basis for their ability to learn.” – Alisdair Barr

Marketing opportunity: More of than not, your clients will be happy to see that your advice business is helping a young person get a start in life. Bring young advisers into the customer service part of the client’s journey and tell your client about how important you think it is to help hard working young people who are starting their careers. Maybe you’re paying it forward to someone who helped you in the past too.

I asked Alisdair for his top three tips if you’re looking to recruit a graduate financial planner for your advice business. He offered three great tips below:

1. Leadership – They want to be involved with someone who looks after them, who genuinely cares about their clients and provides them with a future vision. They look to be involved with someone who they aspire to be like and be associated with.

2. Training and development – They want to learn they want to grow – while they are aspirational in nature and want challenges, this doesn’t mean they want to be the CEO. It does mean that personal growth is important to them.

3. Purpose – This is a generation thing – the more time I spend with them they want to belong to something that has a purpose. It’s like social media – being a part of a ‘bigger thing’, they want to link to that. They are career focused and want to share in a purpose and something that has a reason for being. In HR terms, we might call that an employee values proposition or an employer of choice. Lots of small to medium advice firms have a clear mission – it’s not just a big business idea.

Alisdair gets the whole immediacy young people have which can be a challenge for more experienced advisers. “But, I don’t think they think differently to older advisers at that age – I actually think its language problem that often gets distorted between generations.”

Alisdair suggests what small and medium business owners need to do is ask them self a question:

“How can my business, clients, and my future clients benefit from this generation – when a python is trying to swallow the horse?”

Grad Mentor aims to raise awareness of financial planning as career path, to make it a place that young people aspire to fulfil a rewarding and exciting career in. They link small to medium financial planning principals with the best graduate talent. For more information visit or give Alisdair a call on 0405 138 613.
photo credit: Greenhills 09 via photopin (license)

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