The wealth management industry is going through dynamic change, and change always creates opportunity. However, the issues experienced by the large wealth management firms have led to challenges recruiting new advisers. This has also lead to noise that makes it tough to describe to the next generation of talent just how rewarding a career it can be. Many top graduates and experienced professionals are increasingly looking elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the parts of the industry that are growing are having trouble finding qualified candidates. Independent firms or registered investment advisers (RIAs), those not associated with larger financial institutions, have flourished in recent years as a result of enhanced technology and the desire of investors to find an environment with fewer conflicts of interest.
More advisers are deciding to “go independent” and start their own wealth management firms. More importantly, more clients are deciding to get their financial advice from an independent adviser who is not employed by a product manufacturer or brokerage firm.
At a recent offsite with a group of RIA CEOs of these independent investment firms, the constant refrain was an inability to identify and secure enough new talent. This supply-and-demand imbalance in the RIA space is creating a great opportunity for young people to move into the industry and for other seasoned professionals in other industries to make a career move into wealth management.
Top financial advisers can be well compensated. Generally speaking, salaries are in the top 10% across all occupations, according to compiled data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
You can also have a long career as a financial consultant. We work with advisers who have been in the business 50 years and are still working in their 80s because they enjoy their client relationships so much. Other financial careers push you out the door at 55 or 65 years old. In this profession, you decide how long you want to work and, once you have a roster of clients to service, you are essentially your own boss.
It’s a great second career as well. We work with successful advisers who were previously teachers, engineers, real estate agents and investment bankers.
And it’s a career that has flexible hours: You can work around your schedule. Many successful advisers are also successful mothers, athletes, hobbyists or soccer coaches. Once you're established, you can work from home or a vacation house, have time for family and create your own schedule. It turns out to be a great career for professionals who want to excel in a variety of areas in life.
And, as an adviser, you have the opportunity to work at a large financial services firm alongside thousands of other advisers or to work at a smaller, nimble independent advisory firm – or even start your own firm. At a time when more and more Americans are in need of quality financial advice, there are fewer and fewer advisers to serve them.
I would urge both undergraduate and graduate students to consider this career – along with experienced professionals in other careers who might want to make a switch. The wealth management business is one of the few industries that is experiencing explosive growth – and the benefits are significant.
Shirl Penney is the president and CEO of Dynasty Financial Partners, a turnkey asset management platform and wealth management service provider.
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