Many advisors feel ‘stuck’ in their jobs

A large number of financial advisors feel stuck in their job, presenting a major challenge to many managers who face a looming advisor shortage and a limited pool of prospects, according to Rainmaker Thinking.

The workplace consultancy recently surveyed 41,000 professionals (6,000 of them from the financial services industry) and found that 46 percent felt “stuck” in their current job, and had for at least the past year. Twenty-five percent said they have felt that way for more than three years.

CEO Bruce Tulgan said that financial advisors involved in the survey were most likely to see their earnings negatively affected during the Great Recession, which contributed to higher levels of dissatisfaction and a “questioning of the career path.”

Overall, he said, “The pent-up departure demand among advisors trends highest among the oldest and the youngest employees.”

In addition, “pent-up departure demand” among employees was highest among those who fit at least two of three leading risk factors: They were hired in 2006, 2010 or 2011; they worked for organizations where significant downsizing and restructuring has taken place more than once since 2009; and they had eight or more people reporting directly to them.

Many of those employees felt they are not making enough money, don’t have enough support from their immediate manager or are working too many hours.

Additional factors for financial advisors include pressure to cold-call during the years prior to the recession, which resulted in few returns, according to Tulgan.

“There was also less room for managers to provide extra help. So today, the lingering financial advisor dissatisfaction has a lot more to do with delayed career paths and financial rewards,” he said.

As for what managers can do to stop the exodus of advisors, Tulgan recommends not being afraid to give star employees preferential treatment, including flexibility and control over how they run their businesses.

He also cautions against neglecting top performers while spending more time with low performers.

Tulgan suggests a checklist that includes items such as always making sure matters are going as well as they seem; asking regularly whether advisors’ needs are being met; talking about their careers with the organization and recommending strategies for growth.

Finally, Tulgan says not to underestimate the importance of non-financial rewards, including scheduling, location, responsibilities, co-workers and on-the-job learning.

“While there are limitations to what can be offered, managers need to listen carefully when advisors make requests. I know a multimillion-dollar team that left when their firm denied them a $150 piece of office furniture. It was the last in a string of small disappointments, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Tulgan.

“Their new firm couldn’t have been happier — or more flexible with such seemingly minor requests.”

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