Hannah: We are here at FPA Annual Conference and one of the best sessions, or one of my personal favorite sessions at this conference is the Mini-Talks, the NexGen Mini-Talks that we do. We partnered with FP Transitions, with Christine at FP Transitions to help us with hosting this conversation. We have all of the speakers here with us to talk about what they were talking about and to really share comments on each other’s, and really have a discussion about was shared in those Mini-Talks. So Christine, I’ll hand it over to you.
Christine: Great, thanks Hannah. These were really exciting sessions to be a part of. The Mini-Talks were three different sessions that were hosted by Brent Weiss and Kayla Kennelly at Facet Wealth. We had Bryan Hasling with JW Harrison in the Bay Area and we had Dan Yerger with My Wealth Planners, out of Longmont, Colorado. They each discussed a separate topic that is near and dear to their hearts. I think they were great topics that are very relevant to financial planning in general, and they all came from a different perspective to give their insight and their expertise as NextGen leaders within this community. Brent, Kayla, do you want to talk a little bit about your session and your topic?
Brent: Sure. Christine, just high level. Our topic was putting a CFP professional in every household and so we discussed three keys to doing that and one is developing the next generation of talent in our communities. The second is changing the way we’re innovating technology to provide different solutions to the families that need and deserve help. The last piece is doing it together as a stronger community here at FPA National, ultimately within just the CFP community itself.
Christine: Bryan, what was your topic about?
Bryan: It was a nice segue to what Facet Wealth was talking about. I was actually discussing about how to actually develop the next generation of talent. I come from a perspective of a financial planning student who cut my teeth as an associate in this world of financial planning, working my way up, going along this career path that we’re all obsessing about and trying to understand what the career path actually means. Like I said, my perspective is from the entry-level associate and I had a lot of other friends go through these different programs, and some were having great experiences like myself and others were having not so good experiences. So I went ahead and collected a bunch of stories from those who were not having great experiences and tried to find out what was actually happening, pull together what main takeaways we can learn from those, call it, stories of mismanagement and apply it to the broader community and see if we can never have those bad things happen again.
Christine: Awesome. Dan, tell us more about your topic.
Dan: My presentation was, start asking better questions, which was really aimed at the difficulties we have as a profession regarding having conversations around controversial topics, and some of the questions that we really need to start addressing as we move into the next generation of financial planning, both for the good of financial planners and for their clients.
Christine: What I found interesting about your talk, was you reframed some of the common questions that we have, to be more client centric. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Dan: Well, and that really is the heart of everything. We don’t have a profession, we don’t have a business if there’s not a demand for what we do. One of the keys that we really have to look at, is how do we do this the best possible way for our clients, for the public? I thought that all the talks today really synced into each other very nicely. We’re talking about the supply and demand problem with financial planning. There’s not enough financial planners and we have a massively underserved public. We’re talking about the difficulties of bringing people into the profession and getting them to stay in the profession because of the mismatch of expectations between new planners in the firms that are bringing them in and how simple some of those things could be to solve.
Dan: Then we’re really looking at, now that we have people in the profession, now that we’re bringing people in the profession, others staying in the profession, how do we do this the best possible way so that there’s not only a profession to be in, but a demand for those services for the next several centuries, millennia, however long we can possibly make this thing last?
Christine: Brent, when you’re sharing, your first point was about, how do we retain, how do we bring in and retain talent? Can you talk about some of the challenges that we face with that because I think that dovetails very well into what Bryan and Dan-
Brent: Yeah, absolutely. Dan said it very well. I think we’re all on the same page in terms of what we need to do to solve some of the challenges we face. I think we have to find a way, and I’ll say this in a way that that might come in a little weird. We have to find a way to make financial planning sexy with the younger generations, because when we look at how we can actually put a CFP professional in every household, that’s about 130 million households. That’s a lot of people.
Brent: It takes a lot of people and professionals to solve that challenge, and number one is, how do we get the workforce excited about this? How do we start developing them at the high school, university, college level, so that when they come out they’re ready to join the firms? The second challenge is actually creating the right career opportunities when these younger, passionate, talented, and diverse group of individuals come out of the universities. Are we creating the right jobs for them? Are we creating the right careers where they go, “This is the opportunity that I want?”
Brent: So for me, I, like Bryan started as a junior advisor, worked my way up through the ranks over the course of about a decade, but had a boss at the time who became my business partner, who was really about being a leader and helping me learn how to grow as a financial planner. Didn’t say, “Hey go do it yourself and go find business and you’ll figure this out over time,” we had this thing called living classroom. He let me sit in and he coached and mentored me along and that really accelerated my path. But a lot of people then said, “This doesn’t exist, this job doesn’t exist, and so we need to find ways to actually build more of that.” I know Bryan you have a comment here because this is what your entire presentation, but we need to solve that problem.
Bryan: This is my entire thing really. I feel like I’ve been successful in a short amount of time. When I look around at my peers and my former classmates, I see we’re all at different levels, and I see the main reason that we’re all at different levels is because of the amount of energy poured into us from our direct manager or whoever’s above us. We need to be developed and I feel like I’ve been developed really, really well. I couldn’t really appreciate that until I started looking around at other people who really weren’t getting a fair shot.
Bryan: I look back at my experience over the past half decade and I say, wow, there has been a lot of energy poured directly into me. Now, I have the benefit of being the first hire at a very small firm. I was the only employee, which means I got a lot of first employee benefits, which was basically just a lot of time and energy poured into me. A lot of one-on-ones, a lot of coaching for me and just me, and I’ve seen how it’s benefited me. I see how my friends who are not sure if they want to stay in the industry or not, I can see them not getting that and I can see that if I want the people that we’re now hiring in our firm to stick around and be just as passionate as we all are, then we’re going to have to put that energy right into them too.
Hannah: Yeah, I would just add, I think, we know that we have a shortage of talent, and I think one of the reasons why is the perception of the industry. It’s the eat what you kill model. I know I spoke to friends about our industry, who aren’t in it, asking them why they wouldn’t want to go into it and they figured that it’s just a sales model, it’s an eat what you kill type of industry. Which is why I think focusing on retaining that talent is so important because first off, we have a lack of talent, and so once we get talent into the system, how do we actually retain that talent?
Dan: Well, and even from that particular standpoint, look at the role models that barely exist in our field to the general public. Look at the sources of financial advisor or finance based entertainment. We have shows out there of billionaires doing criminal acts to make huge piles of money. We have a show about a accountant/financial advisor helping cartels money launder. We have these as our role models to the public eyes. We don’t have any positive influences on the potentially emerging talent out there in the world compared to other professions. You have shows about lawyers changing the world, you have shows about doctors saving lives and performing medical miracles.
Dan: So we are still at this stage where, not only are we struggling to get people into the profession and help them find their place in it to have valid career tracks for them, but a lot of people’s perception of this career track is informed by things that have nothing to do with what we do day to day. It’s a bit of a misunderstanding on the part of the public that financial planners don’t launder money for cartels or run hedge funds, we’re really trying to help people live their best financial lives day to day.
Brent: The thing that I find, I guess, I shouldn’t say funny, but that’s interesting to me is, the regulatory bodies don’t actually let us tell success stories to the public. That is not allowed by the SEC. We can’t go out there and someone can say, “Wow, I worked with Dan and he did a great job and here’s what he did for me,” but we can tell the stories of the Bernie Madoffs and that’s what people say. I think the presentation I saw today, there were three things as to why younger, talented individuals are not entering the profession.
Brent: Number one is they think it’s a sales role. Number two, there’s an ethical dilemma because they’re seeing the stories and not seeing the help that we’re doing. We are saving lives, we’re helping people achieve their goals and their dreams. That’s powerful. The third is lack of awareness. Like, what is this thing called financial planning? It’s not a real profession yet, so people don’t go, “Oh, I’m going to college because I want to be a financial planner.” Those are some perceptions and misconceptions in our opinions, since we’re in the industry, that we have to start changing, and maybe we’ll go knock on the SEC’s door and say, “Hey, let us tell some success stories so we can actually start showing America, this is what financial planning is and why it’s good for the public.”
Christine: It’s a really, really good point. We’re having this conversation about retaining talent, and we keep saying how we’re in a talent shortage. How can younger planners … Do they need to be interviewing their managers better when they’re applying for jobs? Is that really what they should be focusing on more, like the firm, but should they be also be looking at their managers? What can we do as younger planners to help position ourselves for success as we’re entering these firms?
Hannah: Yeah, I think, as a young planner, doing more due diligence on the firm that you’re joining. Depending on the size of the firm, if you can speak to other people who have been at the firm, just seek them out. I think matching yourself with the culture that you want to be a part of, a place that you can feel your authentic self. That is something that I’ve struggled with early on in my career. For example, I have a tattoo on my foot, in my internship I put a bandaid over that tattoo for about three months because I thought that, that wasn’t allowed. That’s what I learned, is finding a place where you can be your authentic self is so important, but it’s also up to your management to help you get there.
Bryan: We were talking about it yesterday. Do we get more 18 year olds taking more classes on this stuff or do we wait for word to be spread to the entire country that this is actually a profession, and so the more people actually seek this out? And so like which way do we lean on the supply, demand curve? It’s going to happen simultaneous, it’s going to happen at the same time. I think it’s actually both. I think number one, we’re going to have to get the word out. I think Facet Health has this mission of letting the world know that, you know what? You deserve financial advice too and really high quality financial advice. You deserve it. You should have it no matter who you are.
Bryan: At the same time, we know that this move is going to be happening however it happens and we’re going to be stepping in and say, “Okay, there’s going to be a lot of work to be done. We need a lot of quality people. Let’s start gearing up for this next wave of work,” and the more demand that there is, or what do you know? I bet there’s going to be more people, 18 year olds who are going to be pursuing this as a career choice.
Bryan: I remember when I went to college and I just assumed that I was going to go major in accounting. Do I go into audits or do I become some other sort of CPA? I still barely know what audit means, but like I knew that those people got jobs. They got jobs, it was a very solid career path. It was just a normal thing that people did. “Okay, I want to be normal and I want to get a good job after I graduate college.” The more people requesting financial planning across the country, that will translate into the talent pool being cultivated to come meet it and it will eventually become a normal thing. We just have to get the word out there to the general population.
Christine: I really appreciated the three points that Facet mentioned for putting a financial planner in every home, bringing the next generation of talent using technology and doing this as a community. That point on community really resonated with me a lot. We’ve got 125 million households in America and our presentation, we talked about closing in on 20 million households that have $200,000 in income annually or more.
Christine: Those are households that are getting close to the range of needing to have financial guidance within their daily life. They’re not planning for retirement specifically, but they have considerable wealth, they have considerable income coming in on an annual basis and they need to have somebody to just help them look after their financial being, help them make the right decisions for buying a home and saving for collage and all of that. We need to be able to reach out to those 20 million households as a community. We need to be able to have the founding generation of advisors that are out there doing the marketing and telling their success stories in a way that can be told.
Christine: The Financial Planning Association can really help with this through marketing the association through the community, by talking about the profession that changes lives, not the profession that sells stocks. Taking those small steps are a way that the industry can put itself out there to change the perceptions of what the general public has.
Christine: In my social circle, I have engineers, I have nurses, I have people who look at me in financial planning and go, “How can you possibly work with those people?” And I go, “Because there are a lot of really great people who are doing really good earnest work to help their clients.” It’s by bridging this gap between the NextGen group that we have here in this circle today and working with the community associations, and also working with the advisors that have built the businesses, that laid the foundation. By extending that image out into the market, with the marketing that we can do, it’ll make a better avenue for young professionals to identify the good firms to work with, and that will help to bridge that gap between the old guard and the incoming successors.
Dan: I think it’s some great points, Christine. I look at it almost as like an identity crisis that we have. There’s this perception, which we know is not correct, but the public sees it as, financial planners are, as Dan had mentioned, these bad people, like guys and girls that just are out there selling stocks or taking money and that sort of thing, which isn’t what we do. Then there’s this perception in the public that financial planning is for wealthy families. We’ve actually done some research at Facet, because we said, “What is our message going to be to the marketplace, to consumers out there that deserve this and are worthy of it, but we can’t go to them with the traditional financial planning message?”
Dan: We actually found out that when we surveyed them, they were actually thinking more about their day to day financial lives, how that impacted everyday financial life decisions. They weren’t thinking about retirement 30 years down the road. Now, they should be, but when you’re in, whether it’s financial duress or you have credit card debt, whatever it is, you can’t about 30 years down the road when you’re worried about what’s going to happen in 30 days. So we found in the way we think about, and this goes into sort of the one of the solutions, innovative technology tools that need to focus on financial behavior, financial identity, the education, the knowledge. Knowledge is power, we have to think about how we describe this and how we explain it to more consumers, so they go, “Wow, that is what I need.” And then also understanding that they are worthy of this, they do deserve it and there are people out there willing to help and let’s make that accessible to them.
Hannah: Yeah, I think so much we talked about fiduciary on the regular basis and what does that really mean. It’s like client first. Even in the messaging that you’re talking about, what are our clients actually see and how are they engaging with their money right now and what are their issues that they’re facing? I think that’s so on point, is we’re so used to trying to pitch ourselves that we forget where our clients are looking at. We forget why we’re doing this and what matters.
Bryan: The thing that makes … You brought up fiduciary, the thing that I find fascinating, is that I can describe something that is grossly non-fiduciary in sterling terms, in full disclosure language and make the average person in the United States think that this is the greatest service humanly possible. It is not difficult to do. I think we often get ahead of ourselves in our profession because we think about being a fiduciary. We think about doing what is absolutely best, building these full comprehensive financial plans. Not only, what are your problems today, but how do we solve for retirement and also live in a dream house and put your kids through college with no debt? How do we solve every problem all at once?
Bryan: The simple fact of the matter is, we again serve a high net worth clientele or a above average income clientele on average as a profession. I think often we look at the problems we have as financial planners and our ability to serve the public, help lower income folks, people who are dealing with more average Joe Smith issues, and really get ourselves sucked into the idea that we have to do it perfectly and until we can do it perfectly, we can’t possibly help them. But often their issues don’t even require something like a full CFP to solve, they require somebody with financial education or financial knowledge.
Bryan: We have all these other pursuits in financial planning, financial counselors, financial coaching, group classes, group seminars, all these things that don’t dig into the full financial planning process, that can solve a lot of the problems for the public, that can help get a CFP or at least a qualified financial person in the home doing what’s right for people. We’re so obsessed with how do we make this a profitable approach and how do we run our business on it? Often we, I think, we forget that there’s plenty of middle America that would love to work with us, we’re just not talking to them and they don’t think they can talk to us, but all we have to do is hold out our hand and give them the chance.
Christine: I was thinking about the identity crisis and how there’s a misperception on financial planning and what does it mean and and financial advisors working only for the wealthy. I actually was talking with somebody recently who I said, “I work with financial planners,” and they said, “Oh yeah, I know like fire, right? Like I’m on fire.” Like, well no, that could be part of it, but more people need a financial planner than just people who are trying to get financial independence to retire early. That’s not what it’s about. It’s more comprehensive than that, but it’s one side of the coin or the other for a lot of people out there.
Bryan: Financial advice could mean absolutely anything. I think, we’re traditionally trained in the CFP coursework, which teaches you to make a comprehensive financial plan, which just touches on every single aspect. I can tell you that the appointment that I’ll have in two weeks with a 28 year old who is finally making good money for the first time in their life, they’re not going to be talking about 85% of the stuff in the CFP course. What are we going to be talking about?
Bryan: We’re going to be talking about, “Well I have student loans to pay and I actually just quit my job and I’m going to start consulting for the first time, so I’m running my own business. What does that mean on the tax side, I don’t have a 401k anymore, so what do I do and should I do one of those loan forgiveness programs? What is that? Okay, well, then I’m going to have some extra money I think, but I have no money in my savings account. What do I do?” So all those things, that’s financial advice and that’s like an hour’s worth of time maybe, and they’re good to go for like years.
Bryan: Once you really get in there, help frame the foundation, get them on some automatic plan that moves things around, where they don’t have to worry about it. They can go live their life and go run their business and start their business for the first time when they’re 20 years old, they’re not going to need to talk about this stuff for years. They’re good.
Bryan: A lot of people just need like a foundation. I think that basically anybody could benefit from having a one hour conversation. Everybody in this room actually, we could all benefit from it. Once it’s set up, you actually can be on autopilot for many, many years and you don’t need to pay me $5,000 a year to to do that. You’re good.
Hannah: Yeah. Just a couple of things. Bryan and Dan, you mentioned this, and this is something that Brent and I talked about in our talk and I know Brent talks about this a lot, about the gifts that we have to give. There are three gifts that we have to give, time, talent, and treasure, and if every single advisor in our community gave one of those gifts, whether it’s doing a pro bono plan for someone, whether it’s talking to a student about our profession and helping them get into our profession. Something, I think everyone does one thing, even if it’s not part of your business. Traditionally, there’s a lot of firms that serve high net worth clients and that’s great, but if you can do something to help give that access to someone else, think of that multiplier effect and what that would do.
Christine: There’s a very important multiplier effect to investing in that community outreach and that service and the one hour that you invest in a young professional who has a really complex financial situation, that will keep them going for years possibly. Dan mentioned that we’re always looking for the ROI and how are we going to generate a profit out of this? That is a realistic business concern that we all have as professionals, that we all have as business owners, and you can’t really ignore that. This is a very fulfilling profession. There’s a lot of soft rewards, but it is a business and part of what we do is help our clients to be more successful and more satisfied with their wealth.
Christine: So there is a very strong business case to investing in these more altruistic activities that are the low return younger client or the pro bono work. Some of the work that we do with our clients, is looking at their evaluation results and their growth results. When you do have that community that can span from an older generation to the younger generation, incorporate that younger talent, you actually have stronger growth rates within your business because you have a younger professional who might have a little more time to invest in that younger investor that starts the relationship. It plants the seed for that client relationship, which later on will be a high net worth valuable client possibly.
Christine: There needs to be a business case for all of this, and I think that supports the idea of coming together as a community and bridging that gap to have younger professionals who can spend more of their time with these lower return, “return services”, because in the long run they pay very strong dividends. I think that’s important to remember as well.
Hannah: As I was listening to the presentations yesterday, Brent and Kayla, not to push you guys on the spot with this, but it was interesting, this idea of a financial planner in every household. The median income in the United States is about $64,000, and I feel like as we’ve been talking about, we’ve figured it out on how to serve the wealthy, we’ve figured out how to serve high income, over six figures, there’s emerging business models that are really addressing this. Is there a different business model for those people making that $60,000 a year or how do you see servicing them in a way? Is it a new business model? What’s the innovation that we need and how are we going to do this?
Brent: That’s a great question. I’m going to go really deep here and answer with, I’m not sure. I think in the presentation that, what I wanted to do was inspire thought around challenging the status quo and that Kayla’s wise, is challenging the status quo and it resonates with me because we just need to start the conversation and say, “Let’s just put a crazy goal out there.” The funny thing is, I heard some feedback after the fact and some of the people last night. I heard this, this morning. I was talking to somebody were saying, “You’re just crazy for thinking about that.” I said, “Good, that’s exactly what I wanted to come out of this conversation.”
Hannah: That’s what we wanted.
Brent: So I look at this and I have a couple of thoughts. I have some opinions in terms of how we make this work. At Facet Wealth, we’re actually getting into employee benefits, where we find employers who believe in the financial health and wellness of their employees and are willing to put in programs that allow them, and they can subsidize it, they can do different programs. We can customize solutions because that then gives us access to 100 employees, 1,000 employees, 10,000 employees.
Brent: Now most of those individuals are probably in that income range, but because their employer is care. So I look at this and that’s why the third key is community. When I look at this, the solution may not just be more CFPs. It may actually be going out in the community and saying, other people need to have, I say this is my responsibility as well to take care of the people that drive my business. Or it could be local economic development organizations that might allow us greater access.
Brent: So I think it’s going out to other communities and saying, “This is what we do. We want to make this more accessible. How do we do it?” Let different communities tell us their challenges, their opportunities, and ultimately how we can slot in to provide the advice, because Dan, I love how Dan frames things. Asking different questions, like even ask questions after a presentation. It’s like, oh geez, maybe our presentation wasn’t spot on, but it started to create the conversation of, let’s go ask the right questions to ultimately understand if there’s a truth out there that allows us to succeed in putting up CFP in every household.
Christine: Well, I just remember, I heard what you said about, how do we put a financial planner in every household and I love that big vision and it’s so exciting and it’s such an exciting time in financial planning and even people who are saying that’s too big of a goal, it’s so funny. The planners that I talk to, the planners that listen to this podcast, because nobody’s required to listen to this. That means that people are going above and beyond their daily job to listen to this podcast. I know that. We talk to them and we’re talking to them, like we are the generation that can figure this out. We’re the people that can do it. Like you’re saying, there’ll be a community effort, but there are new models, there are new things that are going to be emerging and people have ideas that we can really … How we can really explore that.
Christine: It’s the most exciting time of financial planning I’m convinced. So I’m completely sold. You sold me, I’m on your vision.
Hannah: Yeah, no, I totally agree, and that’s why I love FPA and NextGen and it’s just the energy and we’re all in this to make our industry better and serve more clients. So it’s funny, someone the other day asked me, “Who are your competitors at Facet?” And my response was, “None,” because there are, what’s the stat? 150 million families that do not have access to holistic financial planning, and so there is so much more out there, families for us to serve, and so we do need to work together to do that.
Bryan: Just coming to the conference, waiting in line to board my plane a couple of days ago, there was a group from a school, which I don’t know what school it was, but they were going to FPA National here. There was a girl in the group and she said, “I hope when I go to this event that I figure out whether I really want to be a financial planner or not.” And so I hope the answer’s, yes, but it just goes to show that somebody even studying financial planning, going into financial planning and going to the financial planning event of the year can still be questioning, can still be challenged to find their place or where it’s going to be for them.
Bryan: I think at the end of the day, as we look to solve these big questions, these big problems, 20 years from now there’s going to be more financial questions that we want to find answers to. There’s going to be more careers in this field than there are even now, even with the shortage of 200,000 planners as we’re staring down the barrel. Really for the end of the day, if somebody doesn’t think that they’re going to fit into being a traditional financial planner in the way that we think about that sometimes, the possibilities are endless. The questions, the conversations we’re having every single day at events like this, really just go to show that even if being a financial planner in that traditional sense isn’t for someone, they’re going to find a place somewhere in this profession and they’re going to make a huge difference in the world.
Brent: I don’t know how you folks found your financial planning job whenever, you and your early ’20s, but I found a school program, and I think when I was maybe 20 years old when I first heard about it for the first time, and I didn’t even know what it was until maybe like a year into the course programs. Everybody that I talked to and everybody who I took classes with, we didn’t know what it was. When we were 18 years old, we just went to college. We didn’t actually even know what were going to major in and then we started taking some classes and like, “Oh, they have good job placement. Let’s just go see what that’s about.”
Brent: Which is the same story with the legal profession, with the accounting profession. People just sign up for what seems like a pretty sure thing. Whenever you’re 18 years old, you’re just like, “Well I’m supposed to go to college. I’m supposed to get a job on the other side.” And then you take either what’s shore or you look into something. So I just totally lucked into something, and all my friends, we all stumbled into financial planning as well. So we were really lucky that there are these college programs out there that are sweeping all of us up and it’s working out for us. I got lucky, found a program that’s built me up, and then I found a boss that built me up, and it’s just like this investment in this next generation that really, it’s a lot of work. To make an entire college program and get however many hundreds of kids that go to these programs to actually do it, it takes a lot of work and it’s thanks to them that a lot of us are even here.
Christine: What’s interesting though is, in spite of the programs that are attracting the students and coming in, when I’m working with advisors who come in through FP Transitions and they’re looking for succession planning guidance, they’re looking for growth guidance, I point advisors to the college programs and a lot of times they’re not even aware of some of the best programs that are really close to them. So there’s a marketing problem even there with universities that are cultivating the next generation of talent. So that’s an area that I’ve stepped outside of the norm of what we do, and I’m cultivating the relationships with the next gen like you folks and with the universities because we’re another part of the equation. We’re another part of the community that can help to bridge the gap.
Christine: I think, Bryan, you were really lucky to get into a firm as their first hire where they invested in you and they nurtured you. What I hear from a lot of young advisors is that they do want to be in a position with a young firm where they can have a lot of personal attention, but smaller firms don’t realize their own value proposition. So it’s all part of closing the gaps there and communicating to your community and helping those smaller practitioners know that there is a place in there from for a next gen advisor who really wants to be part of their team and just trying to close that gap there so that more people can have a place like you instead of working for a behemoth where they’re just another number.
Bryan: The irony with a lot of us coming out of programs and us getting our first jobs, the irony is that, “Well, I’m looking for a job. I guess I should go with the well known name because well, they have a good track record of hiring people that they hire. I’m going to go there because my dad says I need to get a job.” So you go to the well known place and then you go and you end up working in a large firm and there’s bureaucracy, there’s all the things that come along with working at a big firm. Then you start to think like, “Man, I just want to do my job. Where can I go do my job at? Where can I go learn the craft a little bit? Oh there’s a mom-and-pop shop down the street and nobody even knows who they are, but they seem nice and it seems like a lot of opportunities.”
Bryan: So it’s very ironic that the places with the most opportunities are the places with no marketing and brand awareness because they’re so busy focused on their clients. They’re focused on building their business one brick at a time, and whenever you come in and you’re one of the first hires at a firm, well, guess what? Yeah, you’re going to be doing a lot of paperwork and you’re probably going to be taking out the trash, like I was, but on the other side you’re getting all the opportunity. The opportunity has to flow somewhere, and when the main person or the main people, they get bogged down, guess who’s got the first up at the next opportunity? That’s you.
Brent: Christine, you brought up a point around the gap here and it’s funny I think we’re all in study groups. I happen to be in a study group with some very successful wealth managers, financial planners at own independent firms. What I hear from them all the time is, “Gosh I can’t find good talent.” And then I come to the FPA National and hang out with the FPA NextGen, they’re going, “Gosh I can’t find a good job.” And so I’m going, there’s a gap there, and then even when they do hire people, they’re going, “I’m going to pick on Bryan because he’s sitting across from me.” Then they go, “Bryan’s really good at what he does. I don’t know that he’s ownership material.” I’m going, you hired him six months ago, when you were 22 and you were starting, you probably weren’t ownership material as well.
Brent: So I think one of the things that awareness around for G1, G2, G3 and probably G1s and G2s, understanding, how do we properly develop the next generation? It’s out there. There’s very passionate, talented, diverse individuals looking to get involved and to help you grow a fantastic business and take great care of families. But advisors, when they start a business, they don’t think, “Oh, I can’t wait to be a manager one day.” That’s not what we think about.
Brent: So all of a sudden we’re in this position where we’re like, we really have to be managers and leaders and it’s a struggle and I get it. It’s hard to trying to find out ways to help advisors understand how to be, and I hate the word manager, so let’s say coaches or leaders within their firm to develop the next generation of talent. So then the next gen that’s coming up goes, “Gosh, there are really amazing opportunities and people who will invest in me,” because it is an investment, it’s not a cost. This is an investment in the future of your firm, a thriving, healthy, sustainable business that can take great care of families down the roads. We have to find a way to bridge that gap and I think we’ll start to see some success.
Christine: Absolutely. Well, one of the things that I’ve been telling our clients who come in and they want to be connecting with the next generation, they want to hire somebody, but they’re not really sure how to do it. I recommend that they start an internship program or a residency program, something that is temporary. One of the beauties of an internship is it can act as an extended interview and because it is temporary and gives you that opportunity to get to know a young professional, a college student and see if they’re going to be a good longterm fit for you, it also gives an advisor that doesn’t have experience managing any employees, a little opportunity to hone their craft. If it doesn’t work out for that first three month period, then you start again next year and you do it differently, but you keep trying the same way that you sharpen the sword of anything that you’re doing. That’s a starting point that I recommend to advisors.
Bryan: Brent said it first, that nobody really wants to be a manager. We want to be good financial planners and maybe we want to be a financial planner who works for themselves and is their own boss. Well, then your business starts to do really well, and you need some help to run your business. So what you have to do? You have to hire and now all of a sudden you’re a manager and your business keeps growing, keep having to hire more people and now you’re basically a full time manager, which is not what you signed up for at all.
Bryan: So it’s this huge part of the business that is basically avoided, and I think a lot of financial planners, they find out, you know what? This isn’t what I signed up for. I don’t want to spend a lot of time I’m doing this. I think it’s the people who actually do say, you know what? I’m starting to pass down the opportunities of being a good financial planner and what we call the technician. I’m passing down those opportunities to the people who are next in line and I’m going to focus on my people and if I focus on my people, that’s going to be the biggest return on time from that investment.
Dan: I’m going to be the controversial closer, I think here and just say to any students who are looking for that financial planning job, take a financial planning job. Even if it’s with a firm that you might not think does the best work, the best job, don’t compromise your integrity, don’t do something you would regret later in life. Don’t do something to someone that you’re not related to that you wouldn’t do to your parents. But take a job, get into the field, learn what the profession really looks like from the inside, and as you develop that, you’re going to find out that either A, it turns out you picked a great firm or a great organization to work with. B, it’s not for you, now you know better, or C, you’re going to grind out some amazing skills.
Dan: So if you work at one of those big name firms, you’re going to work on 45 financial planning questions an hour in a call center somewhere. Or, you’re going to grind out 1,000 1040 tax returns a year and you’re going to cut your teeth on those things, you’re going to be a better planner for it. Just again, don’t compromise your integrity in the process of it.
Hannah: Thank you guys all for just your thought leadership and what you guys in these Mini-talks. It was so good, and as we wrap up and close, we’re going to pass the microphone around and I just want, what is the one thing that you want our listeners to know? What do you want new planners to know?
Brent: The purpose of our presentation yesterday was really to inspire and to get people to challenge the status quo, to dream a bit and think bigger than the industry has for for roughly 40 or 50 years. We’ve seen the same line of thought in terms of how do we solve challenges? So my ask or my challenge, my one thing for people to take away from all of this, is think different. Challenge the way that it’s been done for the last 30 or 40 years. We can be innovative, we can be, I don’t want to say disruptive, we can be evolutionary in the way we do this and we can put a CFP in every household if we work together as a community and challenge the status quo.
Hannah: Yeah. I would just add, and I’m taking it a little different approach in terms of what I want young planners to know or aspiring planners is, this is an amazing industry to be part of. Right now we’re hitting such a pivotal point where there are so many people who need this help and technology has helped with that. There are a lot of different things. So if you are thinking about coming into this career, you can truly make an impact, and then my one piece of advice is, have a voice. If you have an idea, voice it and be that person who will actually execute on ideas as well.
Christine: it’s interesting for me to contribute to this because I’m not a financial planner, I am an outsider. I do identify with the financial planning community however, but more as an advocate. So I think there are a lot of great ideas that are coming out of the next generation community, and the old guard, the founders, made a lot of progress. They fought a lot of battles. They deserve to be acknowledged and appreciated for the groundwork that they laid for the generation that’s going to come behind them, but that the next generation of professionals have really great ideas and a lot of critical thought and they have a lot to contribute. I really enjoyed seeing the room full of people and the diversity that was in that audience, and so my takeaway is just to acknowledge the energy and the effort and the ideas that are coming out of the next generation.
Dan: My main piece of advice is going to be for employers, and the advice is, simply take care of your people and your people will take care of your business.
Bryan: For the people coming into the profession, for the next generation, we don’t have all the answers yet, but good news, you can help find some of them with us.
Christine: The thing that I would want the listeners to know, is the power that they have, and just the phrase of, power of one, I always come back to that. It’s how much power one conversation can have. I talk to so many students who have one conversation that changes the trajectory of their career and it’s like, we can do that. You can have one conversation, you can have one meeting with a client can change the client’s situation. If we all do our one thing, if we all bring in one person to the profession, there’s so much power that we have as one community that we really can really change the world, and really just embracing that we don’t have to wait for somebody else to give us permission. We don’t have to wait for the FPA to make some grandiose gesture that we can all fall behind. We can start where we are right now and start changing the world and really push us forward and make a difference right now.