We certainly are living in interesting times. New developments keep the Bernie Madoff scandal fresh in the minds of potential clients. The effects of the Great Recession linger on. And the government appears ready to impose new oversight on the investment advisor community.

It seems we have reached a point where even good news seems tainted. Some 200,000 people work as investment advisors, and the employment outlook is strong. The Wall Street Journal noted recently that with retirement woes on the rise, the need for advisors is growing and the financial planning ranks could swell to 270,000 by 2018-faster employment growth than in any other profession. But with more advisors, of course, comes more intense competition.

All of which makes it more important then ever to find the best practices for growing your business-which advisors tell us is still the biggest single challenge they face. In this issue's cover package (see page 59), we offer advice from top experts on how to recruit and retain talent, serve clients better, pick the right technology and prepare your business for your own retirement.

Senior Editor Donna Mitchell tells us in "The Next Generation" how financial planners are finding, nurturing and keeping great employees. For instance, she describes Cornerstone Wealth Advisors' residency program, which has enabled the firm to take in young planners and groom them to become productive staff members.

Stephanie Bogan, CEO of Quantuvis Consulting, explains in "Realizing Your Potential" how advisors can grow their businesses by attracting the right clients and then efficiently delivering the services that fit their needs. Bogan sketches a roadmap that she says will improve the quality and consistency of client service, enhance productivity and profitability and improve staff satisfaction.

Technology expert Joel Bruckenstein in "Hitting the Tech Target" gives us his latest thinking on what technologies planners should be thinking about and the best ways to purchase and deploy hardware and software. Technology, of course, can provide any firm with a competitive edge. But, as Bruckenstein points out, those who spent the most don't always see the greatest rewards. And Bruckenstein provides some tips on how to spend technology dollars wisely.

Finally, in "Moving On," Securities America practice management consultant Roger Verboon walks planners through the steps they should be taking now to ensure that practices they've built will survive long after they've left the firm. Without proper succession plans in place, advisors, their families and their clients are likely to find themselves facing an uncertain future.

While our cover package provides practical knowledge advisors can put to use at their firms today, these stories only touch the surface. Managing an advisory practice is a tough job made even tougher by the realities of today's bruising economy, competitive threats and the uncertainty around possible new rules and regulations. Hopefully this issue will provide intelligent guidance to help you not only survive, but also thrive in these very interesting times.

 

-John McCormick, Editorial Director