A Millennial Departure: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Jul 11, 2019

One of the complaints I hear about hiring millennials for advisory firms is that you train them for someone else.  In other words, many advisors don’t want to put time and effort into hiring a younger advisor or staff member, just to watch them possibly leave. Personally, I have always viewed change as a good thing. I like the ability to look at job functions and roles and seek opportunities to reinvent (or at least improve) processes. I like being challenged by new people on the way we do things and watching them make improvements. I enjoy keeping tabs on ex-employees and seeing them flourish. 

When you are a manager – especially of younger, talented millennials – sometimes you have to say goodbye. But it does not have to be a bad thing. In today’s post, Brian Briggs, our millennial contributor, says his farewell.  I asked Brian to share some parting ideas, thoughts and advice. Next week, I’ll share why hiring a millennial is a good thing and why it isn’t the end of the world if/when they leave. Here is Brian’s final post.

This is a somewhat emotional blog post for me. I started my career at SEI in November 2004 and I am now moving on to a new challenging position.  I’d like to reflect back on some of the pivotal and influential points in my 15-years here:

  1. I was taught early on, make the most of your time here – which ultimately translated to: Don’t just sit and wait for opportunity to happen. I started in an operations role that required me to roll up my sleeves and take the time to learn the business. I was encouraged to meet (and work with) individuals outside of my department so that I could build my skillset in a number of areas. These relationships and willingness to help out in multiple areas was key for what was to come.
  2. The 2008 financial crisis was the best thing to happen to my career; my personal growth, in particular. After the fact, that is. Anyone (in any generation) who was working in financial services during that time period remembers how hard it was to remain positive and focused on goals. But most people also remember working tireless hours to get things done because, in many cases, we had to do more with less. My willingness to step up and take on various tasks *prior* to 2008 helped me stay employed, but it also gave my managers the confidence that I was committed to helping the company meet the goals of growing our business. For those who raise their hand, opportunities come.
  3. I was able to work for/with an amazing group of people. I’ve had the luxury of working in the same group for 10+ years. When I say that to some people, they give me a perplexed look, as if I was speaking a foreign language. One of my friends recently asked me, “How could you do the same thing for 10 years?” I don’t disagree that it’s unique for someone to be in the same group for so long. I’ve been a direct report to John Anderson for 10 years, so he’s played a pivotal role in multiple iterations of my growth. I like to compare our relationship to Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan (that’s not a typo). For as great as Mike was, Phil Jackson made sure he positioned him for greatness. My job evolved over the years, as I took on more and grew into someone who could be counted on. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with and build relationships with countless financial advisors over the years – I’ve played golf, attended dinners, and even took a new Tesla for a spin with them. I’ve even had a few pull me aside after speaking at events to give me constructive feedback on my presentation skills! I love it all and take none of it for granted.
  4. Writing has helped me in my next role. In the next chapter of my career, I’ll devote most of my time to creating content that is relatable to the end investor and financial advisor, which is just an extension of what I’m doing today! I’m a big believer in growing personally and professionally, and without being involved with Practically Speaking, I would not have been as prepared (and excited!) for my next opportunity.

Some parting advice

When I look back on my SEI career, I’m extremely thankful for the opportunities and life lessons I’ve been given. My advice?

  • To younger advisors: Make it your *purpose* to build a career path that meets the needs of both you and your employer.
  • Take the time to give back to your corporate community. Have a mentor; be a mentor and help others along the way.
  • To employers: Don’t be afraid for your younger employees to grow – because they will, whether you facilitate it or not. If you’re actively involved with that growth, they will remain loyal to you now and in the future.

To all of you who have read my posts, THANK YOU – I appreciate the constructive feedback, words of encouragement, suggestions… the list goes on. This has been an amazing experience and I’m extremely excited for all the opportunities ahead.

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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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