When Mentoring Requires You to Let Go

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Over a period of years, an adviser’s firm grows as his or her number of clients accumulates. Simultaneously, the adviser deepens relationships with existing clients. In what seems like no time at all, the adviser-client relationships evolve through many life events—birthdays and anniversaries, births, deaths, retirements, marriages and more.

Often, as the adviser acquires new clients, their investable net worth is larger than that of his or her original clients. Fast-forward two or three decades, and the adviser finds him- or herself with more households than can be manage. And, typically, the original clients continue to have smaller average investable net worth than the adviser’s newer households.

Many seasoned advisers hire junior advisers to lighten their workload and handle some of the smaller clients. But when it comes to transitioning clients, it is no surprise that the senior advisers may be reluctant to let go of the relationships that they and their clients have carefully cultivated and thoroughly enjoy. After all, they have shared all those years of life events.

Although advisers want to transition clients, some advisers can sabotage the transition process by convincing themselves that only they can meet their clients’ needs. Moreover, the experienced, successful advisers may look at their 30-year-old junior advisers and confront the reality that the junior advisers are simply not as competent, knowledgeable, or skilled at relationships as the senior advisers are.

But is that the right comparison?

Instead of asking, “Is junior as good as I?” a different perspective comes from asking, “Is junior as competent as I was when I was 30 years old?” Often, the reaction to that question is a swift acknowledgment that the adviser wasn’t born successful, but that he or she grew to become successful one client experience at a time—and maybe even one mistake at a time.

Realignment encourages senior advisers to not only “allow” relationships to transition, but it also refocuses the seasoned advisers on the purpose of bringing in junior advisers in the first place. That realignment remotivates seasoned advisers to transition clients and to set their junior advisers up for success.

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

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