While the CFP certification for financial planning has been around since the early 1970s, it wasn’t until the 1980s and 1990s that it began to gain widespread adoption amongst financial advisors. And it’s only been over the past 20 years or so that the highly scalable AUM model gained enough traction and popularity that the typical advisory firm evolved from solo practices into larger ensemble firms with employee advisors and multiple partners.
As a result, while the essential set of skills needed to establish your own advisory firm are now relatively well known, the most effective path to become a partner in an existing advisory firm is still in its earliest stages, with no set industry norms, a wide variety of career paths from one firm to the next, and a number of firms that haven’t yet designed their formal career tracks at all. Which, to say the least, makes it very difficult for next-generation advisors to figure out where to focus and what to do in order to succeed.
Accordingly, practice management consultant and guru Philip Palaveev has published what should soon become the seminal handbook of next generation advisors pursuing partnership. Because in “G2: Building The Next Generation”, Palaveev – who himself joined a major accounting firm in his early 20s and rapidly ascended to partnership by his early 30s – sets forth exactly what so-called “G2” (second/next generation) advisors in large independent advisory firms should be doing to successfully manage their own career track to partnership, what kinds of expectations are (and are not) realistic, and why (and how) the requisite skills to develop will themselves change as the advisor achieves new levels of success.
Perhaps most notable, though, is the simple fact that at the most senior levels of leadership within an advisory firm, it’s really more about leadership and the ability to manage people, than the actual skill set of being a great advisor. And in turn, the path to leadership and partnership eventually entails growing beyond “just” being a great and expert advisor serving clients, but also learning how to manage and develop a team of subordinates. In addition to learning how to “manage up” to the expectations of founders and senior leadership, with respect to everything from projects and initiatives the advisor might champion, to the advisor’s own career and path to partnership.
Of course, the irony is that when it comes to advisory firms and making partner – like in most industries – success just begets more work and burdens, not to mention a substantial financial commitment to buy in to partnership. Yet at the same time, the good news is that for those who are effective at managing the career marathon, the long-term benefits of becoming a partner – both financial and psychological – can be incredibly rewarding.