Millennials: Good Hires and Good Ex-Employees

Mar 29, 2018


As you may know, after 4 years writing for Practically Speaking and six at SEI, our Millennial-point-of-view contributor, Missy Pohlig is hanging up her blogging keyboard to head to the other side. Missy is joining an established advisory firm as a relationship manager and junior planner with the goal of becoming a full-fledged advisor with clients of her own. We all wish her luck. And we’d love to have her update us from time to time (with some guest blog posts), but I also think this is a great learning point for advisors. Today, I want to share what I learned from working with her –and other Millennials – and why your firm would benefit too.


When discussing succession planning many advisors insist they would not hire a millennial. They’re buying into some millennial reputation; that they do not work as hard, aren’t as loyal, want to be president of the company immediately -or at least want to have client impact right away. The advisors felt that they would spend hours/weeks/months training, introducing them to clients   only to have them leave for a different opportunity. While the stereotype may be a little too narrow, I must confess a few years ago, I may have agreed. So what changed?

First, let’s put my views in context – which really means get the age thing off the table. I am a trailing-edge Boomer, advice from my parents consisted of:

  • Keep your head down
  • Don’t speak unless spoken to
  • Come in 30 minutes before you’re supposed to and leave 30 minutes after everyone else
  • Your work will be noticed if it good, but expect that it will take a long time and a lot of hours
  • Don’t change jobs or companies; it looks bad to be a job hopper

Sound familiar? I spent most of my early years living by these rules. I was fortunate that most of the people ahead of me were also Boomers (leading-edge), who knew those rules and followed them too.    Just as my cohorts had changed the rules compared to the Greatest Generation, the Millennials have a completely new rulebook. I realize that what worked for us, might not work for them. Accepting that there is a different way of thinking/acting is the first step to finding alternative ways of addressing issues and problems.

Recently, some of my favorite conversations are with an advisor trying to take the perspective of a client or prospect.  We ask: What is important to them instead of what you think should be important to them?  (As an example, why segment based on AUM or revenue when you should be segmenting based on what’s important to the client.) Why deliver holistic planning when they only want modular or project based?

We should use that same flip of perspective.

What are the plusses when you hire a millennial?  She/he can open your mind to a different point of view—one that may focus on your next clients or the next generation of clients.

What are the plusses when you hire a millennial? A different point of view Click To Tweet


I never thought it would happen, but today I am reliant on my 13-year-old for tech advice. I was always the one in my friend group that was up on technology. I even took four programing languages in college so my geek flag flew high. I was a proud early tech adopter, and owned one of the first cell phones (it weighed as much as a boat anchor), but unfortunately could not use it because roaming charges were outrageously expensive. However, my generation grew up as computers were just beginning to be mainstream, we thought of them as a tool. My Millennial friends use them as a way of life. That mindset is very different. They can see the benefits of large scale technology where we look at it as a way to solve a specific issue.

One of Missy’s projects was to help build out a program for advisors that created automated workflows as we sought to fully integrate their CRM, planning software and custody platform. Because technology is a way of life for her it only made sense that the workflows had to be embedded in the CRM instead of on paper, in traveling checklists, or in the memories of key employees. She edited over 40 workflows and worked with Redtail to get them programed into their system. Now, everything from a client service meeting to a change of address has specific steps and assignment. And it works; the proof statement is documented in our “NextWave of Advice Management” white paper.

What are the plusses when you hire a millennial?   He/she may understand technology better than you. They can look for ways to create efficiencies for your practice. If you have an open mind, they can transform your practice to become ready for the next generation of clients.

What are the plusses when you hire a millennial? A better grasp of technology Click To Tweet

Think differently

One of the things I notice about the Millennials here at work is the way they have been taught to think and work. I don’t remember doing a lot of group projects when I was in school, yet many of the people I work with have been part of teams and groups since grade school. They are naturally used to sharing ideas, contributing to the group and expressing themselves. As I said, I was taught to keep my head down—they were taught to share.

What are the plusses when you hire a millennial?  She/he will bring different ideas to your practice.  Doing something just because it is the way you have always done something is a bad idea. Bring in a new perspective to collaborate on ideas and processes for your business. You’ll be surprised by what they come up with that can benefit your firm. Be open to the challenge.

What are the plusses when you hire a millennial? Fresh ideas for your practice Click To Tweet

Why it is ok if they leave

Let’s be honest. It is never really ok. You invest your time, energy and resources into someone but they feel it is time to move on. They want better opportunities or want to follow their passions. We have to accept that it is in their playbook. But again, flip your perspective; you both got something out of the relationship right? You now have the ability to look at things differently. Your business technology improved, and your business was challenged from within.

When you think about your succession plan or even a great hire, it makes sense to consider someone that can make you and your business better. Also know that it if isn’t right for them in the long term, it won’t be right for your business in the long term either. When someone leaves to follow that passion or to change careers, look at it as a way to strengthen the team. Take what the first person did and add to it with another set of eyes. Don’t think about the time and effort you put into their development as a loss, that’s kind of selfish. Think of it as a business gain and the ability to get even better.

Redtail is not affiliated with SEI or its subsidiaries.


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John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

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