Commonwealth Financial Network has launched a year-long coaching program specifically for next-gen advisors affiliated with the firm. While the independent broker/dealer has other development programs for those younger advisors, such as its Advisor Live training program, the NextGen Business Development Group is aimed at giving them concrete strategies and tactics for growing their revenue, assets and client base.
Commonwealth kicked off the program in January with 24 participants, most of whom are under age 40, according to Kristine McManus, vice president, chief business development officer and program facilitator. But they’re not new to the industry; most have already been working with a senior advisor or a team.
“As senior advisors start to think about succession, we want to make sure that any of the advisors that play a lead role in the firm, or might take over the firm one day or be part of a succession plan, that they’re going to succeed, that they have the skills that they need that’s going to make them continue,” McManus said.
She hosts monthly group webinars, which are led by other advisors, on topics such as gaining referrals, using blogs and podcasts and working with centers of influence. She plans to have a session on serving clients virtually later on in the year. Participants also meet virtually in small peer groups every other week to discuss best practices. The firm also provides videos, articles and case studies to help with business development.
“A lot of them have been working with senior advisors or in firms where a lot of the goals are other people’s,” McManus said. “So, ‘How do you set your own goals? How do you clarify your own value proposition? Who are your ideal clients?’”
Louis Diamond, president of Diamond Consultants, said it’s a differentiator in that a lot of independent advisors don’t get formalized business development training.
“To me a gap in the independent space has been the advisor training and advisor coaching,” Diamond said. “Growth and learning how to sell and how do you do business development is a skill that many next-gen advisors don’t have. Maybe the advisor’s giving them some clients, but they’re not necessarily taught the ropes of how to properly develop business.”
The program provides an opportunity for these advisors to flex their own skills and also network with people on the same career trajectory.
“It’s people roughly in the same stage of their career; it’s letting them build their own network of advisors—someone they can go to for support or questions or whatever; and they’re sharing ideas. And that is something that everyone can benefit from—this collective wisdom,” McManus said.
There is an upfront cost to participate in the program, but they get most of it back if they successfully complete the requirements, McManus said. Advisors set their own goals at the beginning of the program, and Commonwealth tracks their progress toward those goals. But the biggest factor McManus will look at is whether the advisor participated regularly and shared ideas.
“We want you to have some skin in the game,” she said. “This is a real commitment in terms of time and energy and idea-sharing. So we wanted to build in an upfront stake.”