5 professional development tips for advisors entering the workforce of the future

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As the wealth management field changes, altering the way professionals work and engage with clients, advisors are seeking ways to adapt and develop skills to meet new demands.

The wealth management and accounting fields, for example, are becoming increasingly intertwined. An updated CPA exam emphasizes this overlap with an exam section covering financial planning and retail tax services for individuals. The test material spans 25 different tasks and skills including some applicable to planning, according to a “blueprint” guide on how to study for the CPA exam, which summarized the new questions as concerning “qualified retirement plans, investing, education funding and risk mitigation through the use of insurance.”

“You can’t really do a complete job of financial planning without tax being a huge part of it,” Andy Watts, Avantax Wealth Management vice president of planning and growth solutions, recently told Financial Planning in an email. “Our perspective is that everyone’s financial planning should be rooted in an assessment and understanding of the impact of taxes every step of the way. In fact, I firmly believe that someday, financial planning without incorporating tax planning will be considered unthinkable.”

READ MORE: Creating industry on-ramps as 100K advisors head toward the exit 

For many advisors looking to stretch their skill sets, mentorship is an increasingly vital component of professional success — especially among women. The financial industry has historically been a “boys club,” with women sometimes struggling to rise through the ranks and find success in the field. 

“I liken a mentor to a personal trainer — people go to the gym so somebody can keep them on track, train them and strengthen them,” said Mara Derderian, a financial and risk management professor at Bryant University. “Mentors can do that to you from a professional standpoint.”

Derderian served as vice president at both Citi Private Bank and HSBC Private Bank for over a decade, crediting some of her success to the strong relationships she has built with women leaders who taught her different skills and qualities she would need in her career. While Derderian acknowledges that there are fewer women in finance than men to act as mentors, mentorship programs can have a snowball effect: One mentor could be the reason several women climb up an organization’s hierarchy, and those women can go on to mentor the next group of new talent. 

READ MORE: Brand building for advisors: How to stand out 
But no matter how prepared advisors are, the industry will always throw new curveballs. In a 2023 YouGov poll, 34% of respondents said their ideal relationship isn’t completely monogamous, and 26% preferred something between complete monogamy and complete nonmonogamy. 

Working with polyamorous clients can stretch advisors’ skill sets, especially as U.S. tax structure and Social Security rules are designed for married couples and single people, making them potential hurdles for poly people and others in nontraditional relationship structures.

“From a technical perspective, all the tools I use have no capability for three adults in a single relationship,” Danika Waddell, Xena Financial Planning founder and president, recently told Financial Planning. “The tools don’t even work well for a couple that isn’t married.”

How are savvy advisors growing their toolkits? Catch up on our latest coverage on ways wealth managers are developing new skills to grow their careers and better support clients. 


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