Sometimes change just explodes all around us, like in Venezuela and the Ukraine. Other times it takes place much more gradually, but is real, meaningful change nonetheless.

In this month's cover story, we document a whole series of meaningful changes that are finally gaining traction across the wealth management industry. There's little argument anymore that the industry has no choice but to change. Among the acute challenges it confronts are:

  • A graying advisor workforce set to retire in growing numbers.
  • A serious shortage of younger advisors qualified to succeed today's veterans and ineffectual efforts to recruit and train new ones.
  • An aging clientele and a serious disconnect with the next generation of potential clients who will inherit their elders' assets.
  • A homogenous culture that has been resistant to change and fails to reflect the broad diversity of the industry's potential customer base.
  • Inconsistent and, at times, half-baked efforts to adopt important new technologies such as social media.

These trends have been accelerating for years, and at times it appeared that the top managers of the leading wealth management firms were simply too complacent — or too ossified — to respond. But as Ilana Polyak reports in this month's cover story, that has been slowly changing, and many of the wirehouses and large regionals are grappling with these problems with new urgency.
And they're not just making high-minded pronouncements. In many instances, the industry is finally putting its money where its mouth is, investing in new training initiatives, new recruitment efforts, new marketing efforts and new, innovative technologies.

It might appeal to our collective sense of the just and the dramatic if the big money firms would address all these matters at once, with finality, slicing through the Gordian Knot. More realistically, however, it will continue to take time and patience to unravel these issues. This month we drill down into two of them in particular:

  • In Mind Games, clinical psychologist and executive coach Denise Federer explores the psychology of the industry's human capital crises;
  • In Biz Dev, writer Richard Satran investigates how advisors can make better use of social media.

Change is rarely simple or easy; nevertheless, it can be most welcome.

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