A unique lead program that changes the game for new advisors

The shift from Project 200 marks a new approach to nurturing talent.

 A unique lead program that changes the game for new advisors

How do new financial advisors get their start learning the business? For advisors at Susan Cooper’s firm, the answer is working with warm leads to develop habits of success and best practices in leading with holistic planning.  

New advisors enter her firm and shortly thereafter are enrolled and trained in the company’s leads programs. They are expected to do outreach to service existing clients and perform fact-finding on their current situations. This allows the new advisor to build relationships with them and better understand their current and future financial needs. It’s a departure from the way many recruits are initiated at other firms, and Cooper feels this is a very positive differentiator.  

“One of the things that's different about our company is rather than have someone brand-new write down their 200 best friends, family members and everybody that they know and try to sell them, we actually leverage our leads program,” said Cooper, who heads a firm of 150 advisors spread across southern and central New Jersey, USA. 

Though the leads programs are available to all advisors regardless of their experience level, Cooper believes it’s the newest advisors who benefit most from participating. Followed properly, the leads programs are designed to help new advisors quickly learn the fundamentals of financial services, as well as interact with prospects who are receptive to the company.  

What are the leads programs? There are 20 separate programs, but, put simply, they involve working to service clients who already have products like life insurance or a retirement plan through their employer, or existing clients who no longer have an advisor assigned to them. Cooper calls these clients the agency’s “institutional and unaligned" client base.

“A good example of our institutional clients is a very large medical conglomerate with 9,800 doctors,” Cooper said. “One person is not going to be able to handle that, so the way the team works is they segment that group based on their specific job/specialty, the locations of the people, the ages, etc.” 

When the new person enters a team that is servicing a group of client cases like this, they’re trained in how to connect with and be relevant to each segment of the group. The pool of doctors, or other institutional clients, is an especially good introduction because everyone already has an association with the insurance company, but most lack an advisor. Instead of leveraging personal relationships, the new advisor can leverage the existing relationship between the client and the company.   

Additionally, the leads programs in place at Cooper’s company allow new advisors to explore various specialties before settling on one. She compares this to other professions like medicine or law, where residents are expected to generalize for a while in a field before focusing on a specialty.  

Most people end up specializing in certain areas based on their eventual knowledge and passion, she said, adding, “Our profession is making big strides in that way now and putting people together who have complementary skill sets and areas of specialization. I think that's really where the future is, teaming.” 

The end goal is for the financial advisor to become valuable enough to be paired with a senior advisor or team of advisors. At the beginning, new recruits work most closely with their regional directors. As they develop basic skills along the way, the leadership team will scout for available openings on existing teams, or for opportunities to pair the recruit with a senior advisor mentor.  

When the advisor is eventually placed with someone, that assignment comes at the request of the senior advisor or team, not the other way around. Sometimes they’ll ask for someone who can follow up on leads they’ve generated, or for a partner to assist at seminars, or to manage cases in the middle part of the book of business. This is where the specialization journey starts to make a real difference in an advisor’s career. 

“When we understand what the team's needs are, we can go back to the regional directors and say, 'Who do we have that has good skills in this area?’” Cooper said. “If someone's looking for a para planner, who do we have that's really excelled in that area?” Then, that newer advisor can be matched with the appropriate team based on the team’s need and the areas the advisor has developed. 

Teaming junior and senior advisors based on skill set and interest has significant benefits. Cooper said the senior advisor’s direct mentoring allows the new advisor to learn and grow in ways that would be unavailable in other talent-nurturing systems. 

“Putting new advisors on a team where they're having that interaction and mentoring day in and day out has really proven to be very, very successful for them and for the firm,” she said. 

Contact: Susan Cooper, susan.cooper@prudential.com