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Too few advisors in the job market

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WASHINGTON -- Advisory firms are finding it tougher to hire and retain keep new planners as the job market heats up. There’s one potent fix — but it’s costly and time consuming. Still, it’s the best way to go, say planners and industry experts.

“Technology is the lever,” said says Kelli Cruz, founder of Cruz Consulting and a Financial Planning columnist. “It’s a retention factor and it’s a recruiting factor. The more-sophisticated job seeker isn’t going to go to a firm that isn’t updated with the best technology.”

There are about 80,000 CFP designation holders, according to the CFP Board, but it’s not enough to fill open positions at RIA firms around the country, says Steven Elwell, a partner at Level Financial Advisors. Even his firm is scrambling to find talent.

“If you’re looking for someone with the qualifications we require for our advisors, there’s an enormous amount of competition for those limited resources,” Elwell said during a panel discussion at Schwab’s Impact 2018 conference.

Elwell added that prospective hires are challenging firms with questions such as, “‘Tell me why I should work with you guys when I have 10 different firms that might be interested.”’

One major differentiator is the technology advisors can use to streamline their processes. In turn, this helps them serve clients better.

“Technology change has been enormous,” said Elwell. “Not only enormous over the past 10 years — it feels like it’s enormous every six months. It’s overwhelming how much fintech is out there and how many programs can help us get better at how many things.”

Overwhelming, indeed. New platforms are costly and time consuming to implement. Many established advisors are reluctant to change the tools they’ve always used, even if they are increasingly cumbersome and out-of-date.

Successful firms don’t have to look far for fresh ideas, however: Younger advisors and employees are 50% more likely to champion new tools than older advisors and employees, according to Schwab’s Independent Advisor Outlook Study. While just 28% of established workers will promote new digital offerings, 42% of younger ones will do so, the study showed.

“Technology will be the enabler of relationships, of integration, of scale,” said panelist Bernie Clark, the executive vice president of Schwab Advisor Services. “The evolution of technology will be more continuous. This will serve our clients and our business really, really well. We just have to make sure we are giving them the opportunity.”

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