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How to Get Hired and Take Over

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Younger Recruits and trainees likely feel as if they don't have a chance going up against more established advisors when it comes to landing the most lucrative deals.

Such candidates, however, may be overlooking the succession route, an eager-to-make deals panel of recruiters tells On Wall Street in our cover story. The industry is painfully aware of its aging advisor population and the shortage of recruits available to replace them.

"One-third of all the reps supposedly will retire in about 10 years; 43% of the brokers in our industry are over 55 years old. The demographics aren't going to change," Rich Schwarzkopf, a recruiter says, during the panel.

That means spots are going to open on successful teams when the time comes for the lead advisor to retire. Until then, these older advisors will be scouting for recruits they can groom as successors.

"They need to have a variety of options in terms of potential successors so they can match themselves up with someone who has the right business model, someone where there's a good personality fit, and someone who may have confidence from a character standpoint," says recruiter Mark Elzweig.  

But potential candidates, especially rookies, should be warned that senior advisors may be tough to win over.

A majority of advisors say it's a moderate or major challenge to groom successors who have limited investment or financial planning experience, according to a study by research firm Cerulli Associates.

Recruiters say the numbers suggest that some retiring advisors may start off with a bias against hiring recruits in need of additional skills  and that such an attitude highlights how sorely lacking the industry is on training programs. "All these firms want to grow, and yet they're training very few people," recruiter Bill Willis of Willis Consulting says.

For those candidates who do have enough of a skillset, recruiters say the opportunities abound.

"Teaming is an essential part of where the business is going," says panelist Elizabeth McCourt. "Particularly because of the aging advisor population, the new people coming in and how they are best able to grow." 

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