The Hunt is On For Associate Planners and Wealth Management "Tuck-Ins"

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At the annual meeting of the Financial Planning Association in San Diego recently, recruiter Caleb Brown made a presentation on how to hire new planners and integrate them successfully.

More than once, firm owners in the audience raised their hands and stood to announce they were actively hiring, encouraging wealth management candidates to call if they were interested.

The fact is that for those just starting out in financial advice space-as well as those with a track record of more than five years-the environment is ripe with opportunity right now.

"My clients call me because they have plenty of prospective clients in the pipeline, but if all of that came about, they'd need associate level advisors to provide the planning advice and support that business," Brown told eFinancialCareers.

A lot of firms frankly have "been putting potential clients on hold because of the amount of work it takes to bring on and service new customers," added the Certified Financial Planner and partner with New Planner Recruiting in Tallahassee, Fla.

Which is why these days, Brown is placing many Associate Planners. His firm tends to work with candidates with five years of industry experience or less and the following qualifications:

· They're most likely on a CFP certification track

· They're familiar with the SEP, SIMPLE, 401(k), ROTH 401(k) and other retirement programs

· They have exposure to independent advisor trading platforms

· They are well-versed in industry -specific software such as Junxure, Redtail, Moneyguidepro, Naviplan and Moneytree

· They are comfortable with tax, estate, and insurance concepts and are able to determine client risk tolerances and corresponding asset mixes.

"Tuck-Ins" Flourish

But it isn't just newbies who are sought after right now.

There's also been a proliferation of something called "tuck-in" agreements, where established advisory firms are seeking to join forces with other independent advisors or to merge with other firms to significantly bolster their capabilities at the lowest possible cost.

A firm that "has the platform, the office and the technology," might want to partner with someone else-either a company or a single individual-and be able to piggyback on those capabilities, says Brown.

One case in point: Robert Wolfe, Managing Director of United Capital Financial Partners' South Florida Region, says his firm is currently in the process of recruiting individual advisors as well as fuller-scale businesses and bringing them under his company's wing.

This is one of the best ways to grow top-line revenue in a tough competitive atmosphere, where the pricing of fee-based investment advisory services has come under more and more pressure, Wolfe says.

"Right now we are in 30 cities nationwide," he notes, adding that the company is now either negotiating deals or proactively searching for advisors and advisory practices in Atlanta, Phoenix, Seattle, Charlotte and Denver.

Ideal prospects will have been in business for at least five years with mass affluent clients with at least $250,000 in investable assets. They will also:

· Have a minimum of $30 million to $100 million of assets under management;

· Have clean compliance records; and

· Will make for a good cultural fit with a team that emphasizes a planning approach to investment advice as opposed to being "stock jockeys" with a fee-based model, says Wolfe.

"In South Florida right now, we would like to identify and bring on board at least four people who fit the above profile," says Wolfe, who is based in Fort Lauderdale.

The right candidate will typically earn a minimum 40 percent payout annually, adds the executive, which means an individual earning $500,000 of revenue every year would receive $200,000 in compensation.

"The larger the practice, the larger the payout could be," Wolfe says, adding that larger-scale practices that merge with United Capital will sell all or a portion of their revenue streams for a combination of stock and cash. They have tended to see their revenues increase 40 percent following such a "tuck-in," he adds.

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