Insights | 09.11.19
Identifying the Attributes of Holistic Advisors for the New Era
As the financial advice industry evolves from a transactional commission-based sales culture, firms are looking for advisors who can be successful in the new era and embrace that transformation. These “new-era” advisors take a holistic approach to working with clients and prospects. Rather than simply selling a product as efficiently and quickly as possible, and receiving immediate gratification in the form of a commission, a new-era advisor spends time gathering information about a client’s goals, resources, priorities and concerns, before providing financial advice.
As we work with firms to facilitate the transformation to a holistic advice model, we are asked how new-era advisors differ from very successful traditional advisors. Do they share similar characteristics, or are they lacking in some attributes that define a very successful salesperson, yet possess other attributes that are part of the makeup of a holistic planner? As managers evaluate advisor candidates, are there characteristics of potential new-era advisors that they should look for? Is it possible to identify which transaction-focused advisors can be retooled to succeed in the new role and which advisors are likely to fail?
If we could systematically identify what traits new-era advisors who have already successfully transformed their practice models have in common, such a profile would be extremely valuable to firms looking to take their financial advice model to the next level. Many firms use assessment tools to improve their ability to recruit successful salespeople. Could an assessment tool be used to identify potential new-era advisors? To examine this possibility, Kehrer Bielan and Anthony Cole Training Group (ACTG) collaborated on research comparing the attributes of successful traditional advisors to new-era advisors.
We asked senior management of five firms to encourage a few advisors who were already functioning as successful new-era advisors to participate in the highly regarded Objective Management Group’s Sales Assessment (OMGSA). Twenty-four of these new-era advisors completed the assessment. Then, we compared their attributes to the profile of 15 advisors from four different institutions who ACTG had identified as very successful salespeople.
Overall, we examined 21 different attributes that OMGSA had found to be highly predictive of success. We found that many attributes of new-era advisors are similar to what the assessment sees in the traditional successful advisor. Comparing the average scores on the assessment for each group, the new-era advisors do not score as well on sales DNA competencies, particularly handling rejection and the need for approval. However, they score higher on some of the components of the will to succeed – desire, outlook and motivation. So, while the sales DNA scores might be considered a red flag in a hiring decision, the stronger will to succeed of new-era advisors is a clear signal that they are a must-hire.
We hope the findings from this experiment are helpful to managers looking to hire potential new-era advisors or target existing advisors for coaching. We will continue to focus on these questions as we build a body of knowledge and experience about the emerging advisor for the new era.
For an exploration of all 21 attributes and a more detailed description of the study methodology, click this link to obtain a complimentary copy of the White Paper, Identifying the Traits of New Era Advisors.