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8 Essential Qualities of Successful NextGen Leaders

By Ray Sclafani | June 24, 2020


At ClientWise, we talk at great length about the critical importance of cultivating the NextGen owners and partners who will guide your firm into the future. It’s not only vital to realizing the full value of your business when the time comes to exit, but more importantly, it’s a critical aspect of your fiduciary duty – a commitment to ensuring the continuity of care for clients who have entrusted you to protect their financial future.

Succession planning remains a topic of great concern and considerable discussion within the advisory community. You undoubtedly have seen numerous research studies highlighting the widespread neglect of succession planning in the profession – the dangers this poses not just to the individual firm owners, but to the profession as a whole. The lack of path between the current generation of financial advisory firm owners and those behind them is nothing short of an alarming crisis.

But where do you start? What exactly should you be looking for when hiring and identifying the future leaders of your firm?

The passage from employee to partner/owner is by no means an easy transition. It takes a great deal more than just an ability to serve and grow existing client relationships. It requires a distinct set of skills that are driven by an innate dedication to firm success and a commitment to continued development of an owner’s mentality. Each of the following traits not only must be present in a future NextGen owner, you should also witness a deepening and strengthening of them over time:

  • Financial acumen and continued development of that ability to function at the highest level as an advisor;
  • Solid business acquisition and client affinity/connecting skills to attract and retain clients in a competitive arena;
  • Leadership skills to create and sustain the team of skilled and committed professionals necessary to maintain and grow the business;
  • Business acumen, strategic thinking, and agility skills to plan for the firm’s long-term future while adapting to a fast-paced, ever-changing current business environment;
  • Project management skills to design delivery mechanisms for superior client service while still maintaining firm profitability;
  • Collaborative skills to work and develop business with others;
  • Collaborative skills combined with a willingness to share and grow leadership with others; and
  • A profound sense of responsibility for the success of the firm and all those in it.


As you continue to grow and transition into a large ensemble practice, the development of human capital – especially your NextGen leaders – is paramount. The question you need to address is whether or not you’re doing all you can to help bring out the best in others. By focusing on identifying and nurturing these qualities – both in hiring and retaining top talent – you stand a much better chance of cultivating capable and motivated NextGen leaders for your firm.

Coaching Questions from this article:

  1. What steps have you taken to implement a strategy to develop future owners/partners?
  2. Thinking about your firm’s purpose, core values, and standards, what would you identify as the most important criteria for partnership?
  3. How are you currently sharing leadership responsibilities with the next generation? What more can you do?
  4. If you haven’t yet created a clear plan for sharing ownership once future leaders are developed, what actions can you take now to begin that process?

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Topics: Team Development Leadership Succession Planning

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