The impetus for this month’s post is the recent deluge of individuals who have reached out to me expressing frustration over “lack of growth opportunities” in their position at their current firm. It’s not uncommon for candidates to reach out to me to “see what else is out there.” What is interesting is the similarity of the recent conversations and the sense that the underlying, well documented, issue might soon have a larger impact than once thought. So in this two part post we will first look at what exactly constitutes a “growth opportunity” in the candidate’s mind, with a follow up next month on what firm owners should be providing if they want to offer these opportunities internally to keep their employees from searching for them externally.
To set the background the candidates that I spoke with were CFP® certificants, or pursuing the CFP® certification, were still with the firm they started their career with, had been with these firms between 2-4 years, and the firms were nationally known indie RIA firms with a minimum of 150MM AUM. Here is the basic flow of the conversation:
CBrown: Thanks for reaching out to me and sending your information. It looks like you are with a reputable firm and have a lot going on there – why did you contact me?
Candidate: Well, I mostly enjoy my firm and the people I work with and have been here my entire career and wanted to just see what else was out there.
CBrown: Thanks for sharing that. Firms are hiring, but it’s very difficult to find a good fit. From what I can tell on the resume, it appears you have a pretty good opportunity. Why do you want to know what else is out there?
Candidate: I’m looking for more growth opportunities than what is/what will be offered here.
CBrown: What exactly do you mean by “growth opportunities?”
Candidate: [various responses summarized] I want to keep improving upon my current skills plus develop new skills, I want to learn from others, I want to transition into more of a planning role, I am seeking a more active role in client meetings, I want to bring in clients and my firm won’t let me due to being below the firm’s minimums, I’m looking to work under a CFP® certificant to get the new reduced experience requirement, I want to move up the org chart to garner more responsibility and compensation.
CBrown: There are firms out there offering this, but what is keeping you from doing this at your current firm?
Candidate: [various responses summarized] I have been in virtually the same job for a couple of years now, the firm will not let me work on anything else, the firm owner/my supervisors are too busy to provide any guidance/mentoring, I feel like there is a divergence in expectations, there are several people ahead of me who have been here longer, the clients I can bring in don’t meet the firm minimum, my last name is not the same as the owner or the owners’ kids who are in the business, management is happy to have me in this position indefinitely because I do quality work and it meets their business needs, the firm owner will always see me as a back office person, and I haven’t received a raise in a few years.
CBrown: Yeah, this is common with independent financial planning firms so don’t think that by going to another firm you can avoid these altogether. Realize I only know one side of the story, but am going to give the firm owner the benefit of the doubt and assume that if you are delivering, they would provide the items you mentioned previously. Firm owners know how hard it is to find good people and if they’ve got one, they usually don’t let them go very easily. Could it be that you aren’t meeting expectations?
Candidate: Maybe, but nothing has come up in my reviews.
Candidate: In my reviews, promises are made with respect to the growth opportunities I am seeking, but there doesn’t seem to be any action.
Stay tuned for next month’s post on the remaining dialogue and specific ideas for ensuring you are offering growth opportunities for your new planners.
- Michael will be presenting on “The Future of Financial Planning in the Digital Age” for FPA of Miami-Dade on September 11th
- Caleb’s article “Is This the Future Financial Planner?” was published in Solutions Magazine http://bit.ly/FPoftheFuture
- Caleb and Michael will both be attending FPA Experience in San Antonio September 28 – October 2nd