I sometimes get requests from firm owners, as well as other managers, for tips on how to get their new hire up to speed more quickly. Since financial planning currently has no formal apprenticeship program in place, newly minted CFP board registered program graduates have to close the gap between book knowledge and practical application to successfully make the transition from student to client facing advisor. Here are some things you can encourage or require to get your new planner to where you want them to be faster:
National, regional and local association involvement – when I got started in the industry I was part of a small firm so I was encouraged to join my local association chapters to increase my business contacts and knowledge. Through my involvement, I was able to increase my network exponentially which provided many different voices who gave me lots of great practice management advice over the years to bring back to my firm.
FPA Nexgen – this is a national FPA community of new planners who are under 36 years of age. If you are a member of FPA, your new planner should be as well so they can join Nexgen. More information about the group can be found here: http://www.fpanet.org/professionals/Connect/CommunitiesofInterest/NexGen/Home/
NAPFA Genesis – this is a national group for new planners similar to Nexgen, except it is for NAPFA members, and is limited to those under 33 years of age. If you are fee-only, you should consider joining NAPFA and getting your new planner involved in Genesis. More information can be found here: http://www.napfa.org/UserFiles/File/PressRoom/NAPFAGenesisIntroRelease.pdf
AICPA – the PFP (Personal Financial Planning) section of AICPA is a great resource for new CPA/PFS planners in financial planning firms that have a tax emphasis. More info can be found here: http://www.aicpa.org/INTERESTAREAS/PERSONALFINANCIALPLANNING/Pages/default.aspx
SFSP - the (Society of Financial Service Professionals) is a good resource for new planners in financial planning firms that may focus on insurance or employee benefits. More info can be found here: https://www.financialpro.org/public/yp_com.cfm
FPA & NAPFA residencies – week long intensive programs focusing on client relationship skills and communication strategies. New planners just starting out can gain a tremendous amount of experience and confidence by practicing with live clients (deans and mentors) during these programs. CFP board also grants 3 months of CFP® certification work experience for the 1 week programs.
Both of these programs will help your new planner grow their client facing skills and get them closer to being able to use the CFP® designation.
Online software user groups – many software vendors already have these in place so you need to make sure your new planner is connected to the other users nationally. This will help empower them to figure out the program earlier on without having to come to you as often with questions that lots of people have had before.
Create their own or become a part of a national study group – national study groups are positive because the relationships and sharing of information tends to be more open. You want your new planner out there talking to different planners with varying businesses so they can bring that information back to you. Plus it gives them a sounding board (testing ground per se) before implementing anything in your firm. Here’s a recent article discussing study groups in more detail: http://www.fpanet.org/professionals/PracticeManagement/PracticeSolutionsMagazine/JulyAugust2011/12TipsforaSuccessfulStudyGroup/
Additional education – what education and or additional designations, other than the CFP® certification, your new planner will need to acquire will largely be dictated by the type of business you have and the clients you serve. For example, extra tax knowledge is always good, but even more so possibly if your niche is corporate executives with stock options and small business owners. If you work with retirees, long term care and other areas such as Medicare, social security might be something they target. The American College and College for Financial Planning have a plethora of specialized designations available for various areas of study beyond the CFP® certification. Additionally, look into local community colleges as well since there are lots of options from toastmaster/public speaking type courses to basic IT networking.