Eight Rules for Developing the Next Generation of Leaders

Philip Palaveev gets around. He is CEO of The Ensemble Practice consulting firm for wealth management companies, and founder of the G2 Leadership Institute that provides group leadership training for next generation – the “G2” generation – future partners of wealth management firms. In his spare time, he authors the annual analysis and financial metrics collection known as the Adviser Compensation and Staffing Study, is the author of The Ensemble Practice and has recently come out with a new business book for the profession, entitled G2: Building the Next Generation.

Philip Palaveev

His consistent message through all of this activity is that

  1. the most successful firms have the most talented and competent advisors and support staff; and
  1. this doesn’t happen by accident. These firms are better at developing the skills of younger advisors and staff members.

Palaveev delivered a very strong keynote address at the recent Insider’s Forum conference in Nashville, TN, telling the audience: “The more I work with some of the largest and most successful firms in the industry, the more I realize that they are nothing more than a team, a team of people who bring their enthusiasm and their talents and observations and personal goals together. An extraordinary firm,” he continued, “is nothing more than a collection of extraordinary energies, and talents, all contributing to a shared vision.”

There were eight key lessons from Palaveev’s presentation that advisory and wealth management firms should heed:

  1. To build a team of experienced G2 advisors, you have to be willing to hire inexperienced talent and provide the training and experience in-house.

Palaveev told the audience that one of the biggest dysfunctions in the planning space is a reluctance to hire promising young professionals. Why? Because they’re holding out for someone more experienced.

To illustrate why that may not be the best approach, Palaveev recalled his days at the large accounting firm Moss Adams in Seattle. “I can’t tell you how many times we spent seven years looking for someone with five years experience,” he told the audience. “There is a huge shortage of people with experience in our industry,” he added, “which means that if you are waiting for those with experience to make a move, you will be waiting a long, long time.

  1. Cultivating talent is a joint responsibility between the G2 employees and the firm.

It’s a two-way street. The firm has an obligation to create opportunities for employees to grow and develop into extraordinary professionals, Palaveev said. It should open doors to more responsibility and training, and provide mentorship and attention from the senior staff.

On the other side, the G2 professional has to be willing to walk through those doors, and take responsibility for taking advantage of those opportunities. Later, in addressing the G2 members of the audience, Palaveev recommended that they proactively reach out to people they think would be excellent mentors and ask for some of their time each week for productive hands-on learning.