Toronto-based Raymond James Ltd. is looking to inject some younger blood into its ranks as Canadian financial advisors – and their clients – get a little greyer.

This past May, Raymond James launched a program it is calling New Advisor in a bid to extend the company’s recruitment efforts to both seasoned advisors and greener candidates.

This strategic change has two objectives, says Mario Addeo, executive vice president and head of private client solutions, private client group, for Raymond James. The first is to provide the company with another avenue to increase its assets and recruit new talent.

The second aim is to help Raymond James prepare for changing demographics within the financial services sector. With the average age of investment advisors continuing to trend older – research from Investment Executive‘s 2015 Brokerage Report Card places the average age of advisors at 49.6, up from 49.2 in 2014 – the wealth-management firm is looking for younger advisors who will take over from what is likely to be a large number of retiring advisors in the coming decade. Says Addeo: “We really think succession planning is going to be a key focus for us in the next five to 10 years.”

So far, eight people from across the country have been hired by Raymond James as a result of the company’s new initiative. The program’s goal is to help candidates become licensed with the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), says Frank Mulé, head of practice management, private client solutions, with Raymond James, and to develop the fundamental skills to “build a book of business from scratch.”

These recruits will not necessarily be rookies in the strictest sense, however. Raymond James is hiring individuals who have three to five years of business experience in finance or sales and who may have their IIROC license.

Next year, Raymond James hopes to increase the number of new advisors in the program to 15 to 20 recruits and to 50 people by the end of five years. Both Addeo and Mulé are adamant, however, that these numbers are not fixed and that Raymond James is more interested in finding the right candidates for the initiative rather than meeting a specific target.

“It’s not a big program, but it’s not big by design,” says Addeo. “We really want to make sure that we have success in this program.”

The training element of the 90-day program includes job shadowing, virtual learning (such as webinars) and two classroom sessions. The first session briefs recruits on Raymond James’ products and services. The second session focuses on tips and strategies for client prospecting.

The new advisors are placed in a branch and mentored by the branch manager. As with any 90-day licensing program, once the program is complete, the new recruits are full-fledged advisors with asset targets. The branch manager also will look for opportunities for a new advisor to take over the book of an advisor who is retiring. At the moment, the program is confined to Raymond James’ branch network, although there are plans to expand the initiative to the firm’s independent agent division in future.

Hiring a younger group of recruits will make bringing in a younger generation of clients easier for any wealth-management firm. Although older advisors may be successful in working with younger clients, and vice versa, says Greg Pollock, president and CEO of the Financial Advisors Association of Canada (a.k.a. Advocis) in Toronto, typically people tend to feel more comfortable with their own age group. Pollock adds that clients in their 30s and 40s or perhaps even 50s are likely to be looking for an advisor who can help them with their financial needs over the next 30 years – something advisors in their 60s are not able to do.

“From a business strategy point of view, if you want to have consistency between your advisors and their clients,” says Pollock, “[firms need to] hire some folks who are a bit younger and who can grow up with the clients.”

Another demographic shift in the financial services sector is the transfer of wealth to women. Today, Canadian women control slightly less than half of investible assets, says Jennifer Reynolds, president and CEO of the Toronto-based Women in Capital Markets, and that number is likely to increase in future as money is transferred to widows. With more women becoming the central client for advisors, Reynolds says, the investment industry needs to think of creative strategies to attract and instruct strong talent, particularly women, for advisor roles. “Firms such as Raymond James and many others are making these efforts, but it can’t happen quickly enough,” says Reynolds.

There were no women recruits in the New Advisor program at Raymond James this year. However, the firm intends to change that in 2016 and hopes to include women in its next group of recruits.IE

“We really think succession planning is going to be a key focus for us in the next five to 10 years,” says Addeo

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