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How Gen Y Can Shape Up Your Advisory Firm – Hiring & Managing a Multigenerational Workforce

  • By Andrea Schlapia
  • |
  • July 8, 2014

Remember the kids who took selfies all the time and thought it was cool to pucker their lips in every picture they took?  Guess what? Many of them are ready to enter the real world and their resumes will be landing on your desk.

It really isn’t as scary as it sounds, most have matured since then. But with talent shortages, succession woes, and anxiety facing the financial industry, panicked advisors are forced into bidding wars to position seasoned professionals at the throne upon their retirement.

A study by PershingReGENeration: How Gen Y Could Revitalize the Industry – and Bring New Life to Your Firm tells us more than 237,000 new advisors across all business models are needed in the next decade to meet market demands and only 26 percent of advisory firms are actively recruiting advisors less than 25 years of age.

Complicating things more, many college students are not the least bit familiar with an advisor career path. This leads to a distressed industry with slashed numbers of new financial advisors and support staff ready to enter the field. The answer to the dilemma may lie in what your firm is willing to do.

The bidding wars may not be necessary if firms are willing to take a look at Gen Y. Many advisors entertain the idea of tapping into the vibrant and innovative talent they bring with them; the problem, few know how to successfully retain the superstars who can help move advisory firms to the next level. PwC’s NextGen: A global generational study states; “that in order to foster a greater sense of commitment among Millennials, it will be necessary to transform the core dynamics of the workplace.”

Ready or not, Gen Y is here and they are the future of the industry. Employers need to embrace new workplace trends, understand the differences and similarities between Gen Y and current staff, and create plans and processes to attract Millennials while forging a harmonious multigenerational team.

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” -George Orwell


Stereotypes and resentment have piled up for Gen Y, often referred to as trophy kids, narcissists, and self-centered. Their fashion and challenges are often misconstrued. Despite the cynicism, we need to embrace the Millennial mindset.

They are ready to improve current processes and systems, knowing that outdated methods damage the capacity for firms to thrive, grow, and improve.  “Generation Next” is:

Gen Y Is


Hiring Gen Y could not only push your firm forward with cutting-edge systems and processes, but improve and solidify the relationship with your current team line-up.

Millennials have a defined set of expectations that need to be met before accepting a job offer. I know what you’re thinking, “Huh? Why should I adjust to their needs?” Millennials are ready to engage in a permanent career, but if your firm isn’t prepared for the long-term, they will leave you for greener pastures.

By next year, Millennials will account for 36 percent of the American workforce and 75 percent by 2025, ( The differences between Gen Y and the Baby Boomer Generation may not be as wide spread as you think.

Pro-active firms are meeting hiring and retention needs by knowing what stimulates this group, and, at the same time, increasing engagement levels with existing team members who crave many of the same career assets.

Here’s What We Know about Millennials:
  • Crave transparency and collaboration
  • Motivated by a detailed career track
  • Training is important
  • Current technology is a must
  • Less driven by dollar signs, but attracted to a flexible work/life balance

Gen Y Career Expectations

No doubt, some differences are apparent. In comparison to elder generations, Millennials live at home longer and put marriage and child rearing on the back burner. But, after reviewing their career expectations, are they really all that different?


Instead of turning your firm into a multigenerational battlefield, lay the groundwork to manage your team effectively. Ensure operational managers are prepared to make a few management style modifications. Altering your management style isn’t necessarily exclusive to Gen Y, non-Millennials relate to many of the same desires, just to a different degree of intensity. Use the list below to transform your firm’s key dynamics:


Career Tracks: Millennials want to know exactly how they can advance within your firm. Allow new advisors or team members to set individual goals that align with the goals of your practice. Gen Y and their non-Millennial counterparts don’t differ much on advancement opportunities. The deviation is; if you don’t provide Gen Y with advancement details, you will lose them to a better employer.

  • Design and communicate a career track with specific guidelines outlining how you will position each employee to move up the ladder.

Train: Baby boomer parents instilled the value of education to our younger counterparts; presenting us with Millennials who are continually looking to improve and gain more education. Collaborate with team members by asking what areas they want to receive training and follow through. Invite guest speakers, utilize online webinars, study books, or industry conferences. Create a training calendar to block time, explain when training will take place, who will lead the session, and the topic of discussion.

  • Reintroduce training programs that have fallen by the wayside.

Mentor: Most Millennials view their managers in a positive light and look to them for advice. It is important to remember that both a mentor and mentee contribute to a mentorship program. Each holds valuable skills and knowledge contributing to the overall success of your firm. You may have years of experience on a Gen Y new hire, but let’s face it, they are tech savvy and can teach us a thing or two.

  • Implement a mentorship program for employee growth and engagement, decreased turnover, higher employee satisfaction, and increased production levels.

Culture/Transparency: Millennials grew up living in a world of transparency – a continuous, non-stop exchange of information and collaboration through texts, tweets, Facebook, and email. Transparency motivates them more than dollar signs, as do honesty and their contribution to the overall success of the firm. Firms will need to foster a culture that models these behaviors. In retrospect, our next generation may be doing us a favor in the long run; teaching us to communicate openly, see the bigger picture, and develop the next steps to get there.

Work/Life Balance:  Millennials are not alone when it comes to craving more flexibility at work. The PwC’s Next Gen study tells us Millennials and non-Millennials alike want a flexible work schedule. Most feel so strongly about a healthy work/life balance they are willing to exchange increased pay or promotions for flexibility.  Firms trying to attract and retain new team members should consider alternative work arrangements. They are more than happy to finish up a project at home in exchange for time away for family or community events.

  • Offer options outside of the standard 9-to-5 workday that show you are forward thinking and in tune with the needs of your employees.

Synergy: Millennials love to be part of a team. Delegate projects that promote team effort and listen carefully to the suggestions and opinions of each team member. For most Millennials, it’s less about the company they work for and more about who they work with and the types of projects they are assigned to complete.

  • Have some fun. Let team members plan the next company meeting or event. Fresh ideas can add new ways to have fun at the office and take the heat off of upper management.

Remove Barriers:  Help elder generations remove intimidation and resentment they may hold for new comers and grasp the Millennial psyche. Your current team line-up holds extensive industry knowledge that is essential to the future growth and development of your firm.


Performance Management:  Gen Y welcomes constructive feedback to track, measure, and see that their contributions are valued and contribute to the overall success of the business. Be prepared to provide regular feedback. Effective leaders manage individuals by how team members respond best. How well managers can do this depends on their ability to ask the right questions, consult with team members, and embody candor, courage, and empathy.


Technology: If you haven’t already done so, you need to update your technology. Generation Y grew up sleeping with smart phones and IPads and are keenly aware of the latest and greatest applications. Position your team to be open to their input on solutions to improve systems and processes. Because of their technology knowledge, they often have new ideas that boomers are not aware of.

  • Update and provide current technology to improve efficiency and increase productivity levels.

By following the listed guidelines and applying updated managerial techniques, you will create accountable and engaged team members, increase client satisfaction, and frame the future of your firm.


Ninety-six percent of all college students have heard of an advisor career, however, only 25 percent are familiar with the profession, as reported in the study by PershingReGENeration: How Gen Y Could Revitalize the Industry –and Bring New Life to Your Firm.

This is where the Baby Boomer Generation needs to step in and advocate the advisor profession to younger generations. Viewed as thought leaders and subject matter experts, the Boomer Generation holds an integral part in shaping today’s workforce with their plethora of experience and knowledge.

There are several ways you can educate students about an advisor career but don’t expect Gen Y to come to you; you will need to meet the new workforce on their turf.  Sign up for career fairs at local high schools and colleges and consider offering internships to provide opportunities for those interested in the industry.

How to Build Advisor Career Awareness:

How To Build Advisor Awareness


The Millennial mindset is about convenience and flexibility. They are outspoken and to the point. You will need to train them to see things from a client’s perspective and teach them a few interpersonal and soft skills to enhance the relationships they will develop with your client base and their peers.

Don’t be duped by the bad press they are receiving; like it or not, Gen Y is the face of the future. Having lived through the financial crisis, war, and terrorism their perspectives are far from ignorant or unrealistic. The best thing to do is accept Gen Y with open arms, the right attitude, and appropriate management style.

Today’s workforce spans at least four generations; the Silent Generation (95% are retired), the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. Turn the career concerns of Gen Y into a retention tool for all employees. It could be the difference between a deteriorating firm and a company that surpasses unrealized goals.

Request more information from the Ironstone team or join the Ironstone – Financial Industry Professionals Practice Management Group on LinkedIn and start a discussion.

The foundation of our Performance Coaching and Consulting Programs are based on Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™, which is essential to design, develop, and sustain a successful business. Our ultimate goal is to help you avoid trial and error; shifting your mindset to launch your process of intentional change. [LEARN MORE]

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Author Bio

Andrea Schlapia, RCC™, HCS, sHRBP, is the Founder and CEO of Ironstone, which represents the culmination of her 20+ year career within the financial services industry. Her experience began as a financial advisor evolving into a consultant coach for advisors entering the field. This ignited her passion to support others through learning and development of best practices in order to achieve substantial results. To this end, she followed her desire into positions of senior-level practice management specialists for Dreyfus, Prudential, and DWS Investments prior to the realization of Ironstone.  Andrea’s focus is on practice management strategies to enhance and improve both business and personal life. Andrea identifies 4 key performance areas known as the Fundamental 4™, which are required to design, develop, and sustain a successful business. Through coaching sessions and speaking engagements, she captivates her audience with interactive, high-energy presentations which are built with “how-to” strategies resulting in real-world implementation for significant impact. Andrea has been featured in multiple publications and audio broadcasts as a specialist and distinguished spokeswoman in the financial industry.