Mentoring a Junior Adviser: Are You Speaking the Same Language?

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How do you develop a junior adviser into a full-fledged producing adviser? With more senior advisers thinking about succession—and fewer junior advisers entering the business—that’s become a pressing question in our industry.

Unfortunately, there’s no quick and easy way to transform a junior into a senior or even mid-level adviser. After all, think of everything a senior adviser masters over the years, including:

  • How to manage the financial lives of hundreds of clients simultaneously
  • How to sustain and deepen relationships with those clients
  • How to make rain and attract new clients to sustain the firm’s growth
  • How to run a thriving business

That wisdom and expertise simply can’t be developed overnight.

Of course, it’s not just a question of how quickly junior advisers are able to absorb all they need to know. Seniors, too, face numerous hurdles as they assume the role of mentor.

For advisers who have been practicing for decades, one often overlooked challenge is translating the specifics of their activities into words. They may not realize how much of what they do every day is “in their bones,” and it can be difficult for them to explain how, exactly, they carry out their sophisticated responsibilities. If asked how he or she approaches client management, for instance, a seasoned adviser may well reply, “It depends.” Those words aren’t particularly enlightening to a junior adviser.

To ensure a fruitful mentoring relationship, the senior adviser needs a clear, specific language to describe key activities to the junior. For technical knowledge, the CFP® program provides an excellent six-stage framework for the financial management process. But what about critical areas like relationship development, rainmaking and business management? For these activities, seniors will probably need to draw on various resources to develop a vocabulary suited to their particular practices. For example, the 20-point system can be a helpful tool to introduce a junior to the rainmaking process and your revenue-generating activities.

Given the senior adviser’s responsibility to explain what he or she does, and the junior adviser’s need to learn multiple languages at once, it’s easy to see why the mentoring process works best when undertaken over a period of years. If you plan to train a junior adviser to take over your business, why not get started today?

Joni YoungwirthJoni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.

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