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February 11, 2019 FOCUS: Wealth Management

Wealth management firms seek next-generation workforce

Kevin Leahy, CEO, Connecticut Wealth Management
John Olerio, Director, Webster Investments

With the advisor population rapidly aging, about a third of the nation's wealth management workforce is expected to retire over the next decade, according to global accounting firm Deloitte.

About 43 percent of U.S. financial advisors are ages 55 or older, Deloitte says, which means the industry will need to hire almost 240,000 advisors through 2025 to maintain current service levels. That's a concern because graduation rates are low at wirehouse training programs, the report says.

As of the first quarter of 2018, Connecticut had more than 14,800 people working in financial investment activities, including those in portfolio management or investment advice, according to the state Department of Labor (DOL).

To groom the next-generation workforce, some wealth management firms have launched their own internship programs, while other firms, especially those with aging owners, are simply looking to exit the business, experts say.

Farmington's Connecticut Wealth Management has implemented an internship program in recent years focused on recruiting recent college graduates, said CEO Kevin Leahy.

“We are told that there isn't an adequate replacement of new advisors coming into the industry,” he said. “We've been lucky in that our efforts to hire folks have been successful.”

Leahy says many aging wealth management companies without a succession plan are looking to either merge or be acquired by another firm. Connecticut Wealth Management is actually looking to buy, and is currently in negotiations to acquire a Connecticut-based firm that has several retiring advisors.

“We are certainly not going to acquire businesses just to get bigger, but in the right instance we are going to consider the opportunities,” he said.

Waterbury's Webster Investments says it's also focused on hiring the next generation of advisors, having launched an internship program 15-plus years ago to prevent workforce gaps. Since then, Webster, which manages $2.3 billion in local assets, has hired more than 30 interns to full-time positions, said John Olerio, director of Webster Investments.

Of Webster's 55 total advisors, 12 came from its internship program. The company in January also promoted seven financial associates to financial consultants.

“We realized quite some time ago internship programming and robust junior programs are needed to groom and develop talented individuals interested in the wealth management field,” Olerio said.

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