November 21, 2016 9:27 AM

The nomination period for 2016 has ended, and will reopen for 2017 nominations in late April.

2016 Millenial Advisor Award Winners

The Board of Trustees at The American College of Financial Services determined this past year that The College – and the profession itself – could benefit from some fresh ideas from some fresh voices. Thus was born the Millennial Advisory Task Force, a group representing some of the top young minds in financial services.

One of the group’s first recommendations was to launch the Millennial Advisor Award, to recognize outstanding young financial professionals who have made a significant impact in their field. The five recipients of the inaugural award (see the list below) were announced recently at The College’s annual President’s Dinner.

As he recognized the winners, Dr. Robert Johnson, former President and CEO of The College, said to the audience, “The future of our profession rests in very good hands.”

So, no pressure, young advisors.

When The College first reached out to the winners, we of course wanted to congratulate them on receiving this honor. But we also wanted to pick their brains – to get some insight into the financial services profession from the perspective of the under-35 advisor. We asked this talented young group a series of questions about themselves and their chosen field. From their responses, two clear takeaways emerged: the need to attract new talent, and the correlation between continued education and success.

Chiefly, the millennials acknowledged a looming crisis in financial services – a rapidly aging workforce. According to some recent surveys, the average age of a financial advisor these days is 51, and 43 percent are over the age of 55. Furthermore, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day until 2030. Inevitably, that generation’s lot of advisors will soon begin to retire at an alarming rate.

“We must consider who will steward the financial plans of older clientele if their advisors are retiring as well – and at a time when, frankly, they need the advice the most,” said Mark Perrault, a field director at Northwestern Mutual, and one of the five advisors honored with the award.

Another award winner, Adam Paoli, a financial strategist with The Heartland Group, said he expects millennial advisors to impact the profession. “Millennials will carry the torch and replace the void being left behind by the baby boomer generation," he said. "We will have our biggest impact by helping members of this generation safely navigate the distribution phase of their financial life and help them best transition their wealth.”

Brandon Levithan, a Financial Advocate with 1847Financial said he is up for the challenge. But stepping into the shoes of retiring advisors will require a learning curve for both advisor and client.

“Millennials will be utilizing new technology and cutting-edge strategies which may be unfamiliar to many baby boomers and other generations,” Levithan, who also earned the award, told The American College of Financial Services. “It will be a challenge for both sides to communicate cross generationally, but ultimately it should create a breath of fresh air once everyone understands each generation’s values and thought process.”

Ultimately, if the financial services sector does not take steps to attract young employees, a crisis awaits.

“This is an aging profession,” said award-winner Brandon Turner who, as part of his job at Ameriprise Financial Services, enjoys guiding and mentoring young advisors. “We need goal oriented and hardworking individuals to step up to help the next generation through retirement.”

To be sure, the impending talent crunch will demand great responsibility, but also create opportunity. It is a unique time in financial services when, these Millennials say, continued education is more important than ever.

“The financial markets are a living, breathing animal,” Levithan said. “The only thing we know for sure is markets will continue to fluctuate and we will remain in need of strategies for growing, protecting, and transferring wealth. The only way we can stay at the top of our profession is through education.”

Here is a little more information about the 2016 Millennial Advisor Award winners, including the designations they have earned. Congratulations!

Clarisa Hernandez, CFP®, ChFC®, is a financial advisor with North Star Resource Group. Hernandez, a graduate of Arizona State University, belongs to many organizations, including Social Venture Partners, and Brophy Community Foundation.

Brandon Levithan, CFP® ChFC®, is a financial advocate for 1847Financial. Levithan is a member of NAIFA, and founder of the Shirt for Shirt charitable organization. He graduated from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business with a degree in finance. Levithan ran an international equity portfolio for First New York Securities, a hedge fund in New York, for six years before moving over to the individual planning side.  

Adam Paoli, CLU®, is a financial strategist with The Heartland Group (HTK Broker Dealer). A graduate of Northwestern University, Paoli is on the executive board of the National Advisors Council for Penn Mutual and Co-Chair for the practice management sub-committee for the Penn Mutual National Advisors Council. He is also a member of AALU and an 11-year member with NAIFA.

Mark Perrault, CFP®, CLTC, MBA, works at Northwestern Mutual. After graduating from the University of Colorado Leeds school of Business, he joined the United States Air Force as a captain. While in the Air force, Perrault earned his MBA with a focus in finance from Gonzaga University. He began working at Northwestern Mutual in August of 2009. Since 2011, Perrault has been a field director. The winner of numerous awards, Perrault is also a qualifying member of the Million Dollar Round Table and NAIFA.

Brandon A. Turner, CFP®, is a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services. Turner serves on a committee charged with guiding and mentoring up-and-coming advisors.

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