The Key to Developing Your Protégé

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Many senior advisers say they enjoy mentoring junior advisers, but after six months to a year, senior advisers can tire of the process, especially if the junior is not moving forward as fast as expected or if the junior is chomping at the bit to move along more quickly than the senior adviser wishes.

Ultimately, mentoring a junior adviser to become a successful contributor to the firm takes time and consistency. An adviser’s time, of course, is precious, so if the senior adviser engages with the junior only when it is convenient to do so, it probably isn’t going to work. But if he or she can set aside regularly scheduled time for training, observation, practice and feedback—not to mention time for informal questions and discussion—there’s a greater chance of reaching the desired outcome.

To help maximize time, the senior and junior adviser should determine goals important for the junior to accomplish, along with a time frame for achievement. Setting a single three- to five-year goal is one approach, but it should have corresponding short-term goals for three- to six-month increments that help both parties see that progress is being made. Each of these more immediate goals should be designed to support the stretch goal.

For example, if the senior adviser wants the junior to be able to generate $100K of recurring revenue for the firm in three years, short-term goals might be to:

  • Address the questions and needs of 25 existing small clients
  • Uncover new needs and ultimately new potential revenue sources from existing clients
  • Bring on a new client of any size
  • Bring on a new client consistent with the minimums of the firm
  • Have a pipeline with at least $50K of likely revenue at any point

Setting goals like these also helps the junior learn to focus. And if there is one thing that successful advisers have in common, it is their ability to zero in on the task at hand. In addition, when the senior adviser simply makes clear what he or she expects along the way, the junior adviser is likely to develop more quickly.

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

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