Wealth management has changed tremendously over the past 10 years. Its evolution is something new entrants should understand as they decide which parts of the wealth management industry they might like to join. This is true regardless if you are entering the job market for the first time or if you are coming in from another industry.
The combination of tremendous wealth creation, tax law changes, an aging and retiring population, and a slowdown in recruiting of new talent in the industry have left a supply-and-demand imbalance in various parts of the wealth management sector. This means it's a good time to join, but you need to know what you're getting into.
Do plenty of research on potential employers
I’d encourage you to interview and get to know both large and smaller firms in the industry. The large banks and brokerage firms often offer a good opportunity to get into training programs and have various business lines inside of wealth management under one roof, allowing you choice in your career over time.
However, many of the best financial advisors and their teams have migrated to launching their own firms as registered investment advisers (RIAs). These independent advisory firms have their own operations people, client service people and sales people. They are growing and hiring rapidly as one of the fastest-growing segments of the wealth management space.
Figure out what you really want
As you begin your search, I’d encourage you to ask yourself: What type of environment do you want to work in? Do you want to be in a smaller firm with a more entrepreneurial environment, or would you prefer to work in a larger firm structure? Do you want to be client-facing, working more in an advisory capacity, or do you want to work in systems, operations or technology? Do you want to work on the product manufacturing side or on the client advisory side?
Once you have done some research and narrowed down answers to some of these questions in your head – or even better, written them down on a piece of paper – then you can target which part of the industry you want to explore.
Get ready to pay your dues as you learn the ropes
Just remember, a significant part of your compensation in your first role in any new job or career change is what you learn. Finding the right mentors is invaluable to you early on in your career. So too is being able to work on meaningful things where you can learn from mistakes and gain valuable experience from which to grow.
Also know that where you start will likely not be where you end. I started working fresh out of college for the largest financial firm in the world and left in my early 30s to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to start my own firm in the RIA space, seeing the coming wave of opportunity given some of the macro waves of change in the industry.
Opportunities still exist
We are hiring fast – both new entrants into wealth management who are changing careers and lots of smart young talent out of college. They tell me they were attracted to a firm of our size – 50 people and growing – because of the opportunity to learn by wearing many different hats, to own equity in a new venture, to help change the industry, and to be on a dynamic, fast-moving team.
Know yourself as you explore various options
Try to begin with the end in mind and ask yourself questions about where in the industry you might want to work. What types of things might you like to do? Then do your homework on identifying firms to speak with about hiring you. Look for a great mentor and a firm willing to let you work on significant projects sooner rather than later to allow you to grow.
Think outside the box in your job search, because there has never been more choices – change is presenting more opportunity in wealth management than ever before.
Shirl Penney is the founder of Dynasty Financial Partners, a provider of integrated platforms to RIAs. Penney launched Dynasty after a 10-year career at Smith Barney, where he held various roles in senior management.
Photo courtesy of Dynasty Financial Partners