I believe there is an epidemic of untapped potential in our industry.
Let me explain. Twenty years ago, I was a rookie recruiter who'd been thrown into the financial services space with the task of placing discontent brokers at firms looking to attract more talent. My first day on the job, I was given - like most recruiters at the time - only three things in my arsenal: a phone, a contact list, and a script. And then, I promptly set my finger down on the first row and dialed the number.
Folks, that first phone call changed the entire trajectory of my career. Because when the Merrill Lynch advisor picked up the phone, instead of pitching him about how great the firm was and how lucky he'd be to work there, my gut told me to go off-script. I asked him:
I half expected him to either write me off or hang up the phone but instead, there was silence. After a couple of seconds, he asked me to repeat myself. I said, "What's missing in your career, and what do you need to fix it?"
To my surprise, the advisor told me he'd never heard anyone ask him that before. Never had a recruiter asked him what he wanted, or what would make him happy. They'd always tried to sell the benefits of working at their firm, on the basis of revenue growth, innovative tech enhancements or national brand notoriety - but never stopped to ask what the advisor even wanted in the first place.
That was the first advisor I ever placed, and it's a phone call I've never forgotten. But the moral of the story isn't that recruiters are doing it all wrong - it's that you, advisor, have likely also been conditioned to overlook "what's missing" in your own career.
So, I'll say it again. I believe there is an epidemic of untapped potential in our industry. And the only anecdote is for advisors to realize what their potential is in the first place - if only they'd stop and consider what ignites their joy and fulfills their lives. If we made a more concerted effort, as an industry, to dig into the heart of why we get up and go to work each day, I promise there would be a brighter future for all of us - including the clients we work so hard for.
A Culture of Misalignment
I would challenge our peer group by saying that when it comes to career satisfaction and professional development, we're approaching it all completely backwards. Instead of leading with the advisor as the prized asset, we're assuming that M&A wins and Top Advisor Lists automatically qualify flashy firms as a great place for every advisor to further their career. And advisors: you're buying into it because you've been conditioned not to advocate for your soft skills, your desires, and your personal wellbeing.
It's like going to the doctor's office and, instead of asking you what your symptoms are and listening to how you feel, the doctor takes one look at your chart and prescribes you with their go-to antibiotic (likely the one that would make them the highest return). Your symptoms might be somewhat alleviated, but without knowing and addressing exactly what the root cause of the problem is, you're going to keep getting sick. And each time, the MD will promise you you're "doing the right things" and "to just hang in there".
That's what happens when we fail to address the root causes of advisor dissatisfaction. I often say it's a condition of Leading with Ego vs. Leading with Purpose. Our Ego prioritizes getting our name on the door, but our purpose prioritizes whether we're even happy walking through the door in the first place.
I'm not saying advisors are wholly unhappy - or that big-name firms aren't the best destination for the right individuals (after all, they're clearly doing many things right to achieve the growth). But as someone who's worked as a recruiter since that first phone call 20 years ago, I can say it's on our shoulders to better educate advisors on how to look inward. We need to ask them the right questions, and get to know our clients by their Purpose, first. Only then will we see a significant increase in long-term retention, and a workforce that loves what they do.
You deserve to advocate for your entire self, not just your professional one. And most of all, your clients deserve it.
I launched FA Match to fulfill a promise to you, advisor. That we'll run our business from a place of Purpose, so you can ignite yours.
There are many of you who are outspokenly happy with the choices you've made and the career path you've chosen - but for the silent ones, the advisors who don't feel fulfilled, we promise to always lead with the question, What's Missing? And be there to fill the void.
Here at FA Match, we're not in the driver's seat, and neither are the firms. You are - we're just the GPS to help you reach your destination.