Recruiting, Support, and Succession Planning Are Top Priorities for Banks and Credit Unions as They Look to Fend Off Increased Advisor Attrition

May 19, 2023 — Boston

Recruiting, developing, and retaining financial advisors is critical to banks’ and credit unions’ long-term success in a highly competitive environment for talent according to new Cerulli/BISA white paper

As banks and credit unions face increased market uncertainty, many are placing greater importance on wealth management to generate diversified fee-based revenue and broaden client relationships beyond core banking services. As such, banks need to better attract, develop, and retain financial advisors throughout their lifecycles, according to a new Cerulli/BISA white paper, Improving Recruitment and Retention Throughout Advisors’ Lifecycles.

Over the last five years, the bank broker/dealer (B/D) channel has grown assets under management (AUM) at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.7%, while relative advisor headcount has only grown 0.7% annually. While advisor headcount in the bank channel has remained relatively stable, as the average advisor continues to age, banks and credit unions need to prepare for potential challenges. “Shifting market dynamics and competing advisory business models are putting significant pressure on banks’ and credit unions’ ability to attract and retain advisors,” says Chayce Horton, research analyst. “Banks need to be able to compete with other advisory channels, such as the registered investment advisor (RIA) channel, which has outpaced the broader wealth management industry in terms of AUM and advisor headcount growth,” he adds.

The paper finds that attrition risk presented by aging advisors is considered one of the greatest threats to bank wealth programs today. Bank advisors, on average, expect to retire at the age of 64 (four years earlier than peers in other channels); yet nearly one-third (29%) of bank advisors transitioning into retirement within the next 10 years are unsure of their succession plans.

Considering this reality, banks will need to develop a two-pronged approach to retain advisors at the later stages of their career while also finding and developing rookie talent. “Wealth and investment programs at banks and credit unions are at a critical juncture relative to growth and expansion,” says John Olerio, senior managing director, head of Webster Investments, and Chair of BISA Research Committee. “Establishing career-pathing options for advisors in the later stages of their career is crucial for banks, as it fosters greater satisfaction, retention, and long-term growth for both the advisor and firm,” says Horton. Cerulli analyst Matthew Zampariolo adds that, “On the other hand, given that the process of hiring, licensing, and training junior advisors is costly, it is critical that banks investing in young talent retain them.”

In tandem with developing strategic hiring and retention plans, investments in technology and firm culture will pay dividends. According to the research, 52% of bank executives and advisors are dissatisfied with their firm’s technology. “Not only do outdated legacy systems make advisors’ jobs more onerous, but often these pain points are passed through to the clients,” says Horton. Worries about prioritization and culture at banks’ wealth management divisions are also top-of-mind among advisors and an area where improvement could lead to better retention and recruiting outcomes.

“Banks and credit unions must act proactively to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive environment. By focusing on attracting and developing young and mid-level talent and retaining senior advisors, banks can better navigate the many challenges they face and remain competitive in the wealth management industry,” concludes Horton.

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Note to editors

These findings and more are from Cerulli's white paper: Improving Recruitment and Retention Throughout Advisors’ Lifecycles: Uncovering Opportunities and Best Practices Within Banks, sponsored by BISA.

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