‘Next Generation’ talent remaking Wells Fargo Advisors
Wells Fargo Advisors is training a new, diverse group of advisors and branch managers to serve changing clients and communities.
An import-export entrepreneur who got his big break through an Uber ride.
A woman who knew she could manage her own business, and is now in line to run one.
An experienced leader who believed she could help even more people lead themselves and serve others.
And a financial services professional who knew she could leave her old firm and maintain her client service standards without having to rebuild her business.
Gerald Addy, Karen Shane, Sheila Jacobs, and Kelly DeCourcy are among those who have found a home at Wells Fargo Advisors through its Next Generation Talent program, created in 2009 to source, train, develop, retain, and support new financial advisors and branch managers equipped to serve changing clients and communities.
Key goals include: creating a new pipeline of talent to succeed the aging advisor population and serve a new generation of clients; improving the quality and consistency of advice by providing more advisors to help senior advisors manage and deepen service to their clients; providing a career path for branch associates formerly not interested in becoming advisors because of variable compensation; and retaining more talent after training.
“The next generation of clients has to have the next generation of financial advisors they can relate to and trust for investment advice,” said Diane Gabriel, who has been the director of Wells Fargo Advisors’ Next Gen Talent program since 2017.
The current average age for an advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors is 58, Gabriel said, and about one-third, or 32,000, will be retiring in the next 10 years, across the industry.
“With our Next Generation Talent programs, I believe we’re retaining people at greater rates than what the industry was losing back then because we’ve created a model that works. We’re absolutely making a meaningful difference in what it looks like to be a financial advisor and changing the face of who we are as Wells Fargo Advisors.” — Diane Gabriel
“Whether we’re exploring diversity of thought, perspective, or experience, our clients benefit from each unique perspective,” said Jacobs, a complex manager in Hickory, North Carolina, and recent graduate of the program’s branch manager leadership training. “Client experiences are enriched by the thoughtful collaboration of diverse professionals, and I believe investment portfolios are built and advisory relationships enhanced in the same way.”
Gabriel agreed. “The people we are seeing coming into the business today say, ‘I want a role where I can make a difference. I want to work for a company that wants to make a difference in the lives of clients, and, by doing that, I hope the result is I can also make a good living,’” she said. “They’re finding that Wells Fargo Advisors can definitely be that place.”
Next Gen offers five tracks for aspiring financial advisors and leaders: financial advisor in training, associate financial advisor, digital financial relationship advisor, financial relationship advisor, and branch manager leadership training programs.
Since its start, Gabriel said, Next Gen has brought new career opportunities to more than 1,800 team members, enhancing the Wells Fargo Advisors team with increased diversity in age, gender, and ethnicity — at a rate that is far outpacing the industry and changing the firm’s own demographics, she added.
Gabriel said that Wells Fargo Advisors’ research suggests its Next Generation offerings give job candidates the most options in the industry to become a financial advisor, and are among the few specifically focused on diverse hires. Candidates include students at historically black colleges and universities, military veterans, parents re-entering the workforce, and Wells Fargo Advisors team members.
“We found that, for women and people of color especially, variable compensation that starts out at zero simply doesn’t offer the kind of financial stability needed,” she said. “Learning the importance of how you pay, and the power of salary-based options, has been an incredible ‘aha’ moment for us.”
As Gabriel hears the stories about the Next Generation Talent program’s results, her mind goes back to 1982. That’s when she began her own career as the only woman in a branch of 107 men. Back then, women comprised about a tenth of the industry’s workforce and African Americans about 2%.
In the sink-or-swim culture of ‘80s-style brokerage, she said, financial advisors lived or died based on their success at cold calling and sales commissions. Most sank, with turnover rates higher than 80%.
“It was a recipe for failure,” Gabriel said. “With our Next Generation Talent programs, I believe we’re retaining people at greater rates than what the industry was losing back then, because we’ve created a model that works. We’re absolutely making a meaningful difference in what it looks like to be a financial advisor and changing the face of who we are as Wells Fargo Advisors.”
Meet Gerald Addy, financial advisor, Atlanta, Georgia
Addy, a Liberian immigrant, used to be an Uber driver. He is now a financial advisor and credits the Wells Fargo Advisors’ Financial Advisor in Training program with giving him the opportunity he needed to succeed.
“Wells Fargo Advisors has supported me by providing me the opportunity,” Addy said. “Now it’s up to me to make the best out of it.”
Meet Karen Shane, financial consultant, Charlotte, North Carolina
Shane, who joined Wells Fargo Advisors as a client associate in 2007 and participated in the firm’s Associate Financial Advisor program, appreciates being mentored through the program’s innovative succession plan. Her mentor, Susan Brown, a financial advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors in Charlotte, is grooming Shane to take over upon her retirement, to create a more seamless transition for clients.
“The Next Generation Talent program allowed me to earn a salary for two years while I built up my knowledge and experience,” Shane said, “and like many other client associates, transitioned and enhanced my career.”
Meet Sheila Jacobs, complex manager, Hickory, North Carolina
Jacobs is the first female African American complex manager at Wells Fargo Advisors’ Private Client Group traditional brokerage channel, a position she’s earned by graduating from the Next Gen branch manager leadership program. She now oversees teams at six branches in western North Carolina.
“The most important thing I have learned is how much people appreciate when you show that you care and work hard,” Jacobs said. “My primary role is to help advisors build, manage, protect, and transition their practices and succeed by helping them and their clients as they seek to realize the hopes and dreams they have for their families, children, and communities.”
Meet Kelly DeCourcy, financial advisor, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
DeCourcy, who has worked in the financial business for 36 years, says the Next Generation Talent training program helped her create structure and enhance her own ability to serve clients.
“By creating an advisor position that is salaried, Next Gen has cultivated an environment where both advisor and client can take time to build deep financial relationships. I believe this is beneficial for the advisor, the firm, and most importantly, the client,” DeCourcy said.
Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. CAR-0319-03867