Mentoring a Junior Adviser—To Do What?

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Mentoring has become a hot topic in the industry as boomer advisers prepare to pass the torch to younger advisers. Clearly, adviser/business owners need to mentor junior advisers to ensure that they’re ready to accept that torch. But what, specifically, are you mentoring the junior to do?

Often, senior advisers have very different ideas about the skills they want a junior adviser to develop. For example, a busy established adviser may not want a junior to learn rainmaking skills nearly as much as he wants the junior to take responsibility for some of the firm’s smaller clients, giving the senior more time to make rain. That’s a far different situation from the parent/child relationship, in which the junior is the heir apparent and will be taking over the business.

Some common reasons for developing a junior adviser include:

Supporting the senior adviser with client meeting preparation and follow-up, and perhaps delivering a specific segment of the client review meeting.

Taking on the senior’s smaller “C” clients and becoming their key contact and financial adviser. Beyond assuming responsibility for the relationship, the junior might focus on mining those clients to discover unmet needs and possibly new assets or business for the firm.

Actively rainmaking to bring new clients to the firm. The senior may or may not stipulate the type and size of new clients the firm will accept and the junior adviser is allowed to bring on board.

Spearheading special projects for the firm, such as introducing new presentations, investment models, marketing programs and technology—from financial planning software to client contact management systems.

Gearing up to take over business management and leadership. Responsibilities could include creating or updating the business plan, assessing profitability, managing human resources, conducting technology audits, and reviewing the firm’s client classification system and service matrix.

Once you’ve defined your priorities, be clear about the role or roles you expect the junior adviser to assume. From there, you can set specific goals for the competencies the junior needs to develop. Defining your expectations up front will help the junior calibrate his or her activities accordingly and set the tone for a fruitful mentoring relationship.

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

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