Canada wealth managers struggle to entice Gen Y advisers

Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:54pm EST
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - Tammy Oribine was a financial planner for just a couple of months when she realized it was not the job for her. She did not like sales, did not feel confident enough about the products and hated the face-to-face contact that is a staple of the business.

"A lot of it has to do with personality -- I don't find I'm the most personable person, and I'm bad at small talk," Oribine, 29, said with a laugh.

But there were other reasons the job did not appeal. The salary was based in part on sales, and thus unstable. She was afraid clients would not trust her because she was young.

So she took her Certified Financial Planner designation and became an assistant to a top adviser in London, Ontario - a role that would not require her to sell anything.

Oribine's desire for a steady paycheck is a hallmark of Generation Y, the so-called "Millennial" generation born after 1980 and coveted by marketers and employers alike.

That is one of the issues that Canada's wealth management industry faces as it grapples with the challenge of attracting Gen Y's as both advisers and clients in an age when chronically poor returns have taken the shine off investing and financial services.

"The reality is our industry is going to struggle if we don't embrace this generation both from growing our client base and servicing our businesses with new advisers," said Mike Cunneen, senior vice-president at Freedom 55, a unit of Great-West Lifeco, Canada's second-largest life insurer.

Greg Pollock, president and chief executive of Advocis, the Financial Advisors Association of Canada, says the industry needs tech-savvy new blood to replace the baby-boomers - born mostly in the 1950's. Big banks, insurers and storefront wealth managers also need to attract the next generation of clients.   Continued...