Hilliard Lyons last month launched a new training program for the firm’s 400 financial advisors.
The training, aimed at helping a cadre of advisors that historically has offered mainly brokerage services, is meant to jump-start the firm’s shift from a primarily transactional-fee base to one relying more heavily upon advice fees. For the launch, 60 Hilliard branch managers attended sessions last month and will continue the training over the next five months or so.
Hilliard advisors “are generally receptive to it,” says Tess Kristensen, who last month stepped down as director of learning and development for Louisville, Ky.-based Hilliard — which has offices throughout the Midwest and Southeast. “They have been doing business in a certain way for a long time,” and the training is helping them “speak the language” of financial planning to their clients and prospects, she adds.
David McDonald knows firsthand how slow such transitions can be. A Hilliard branch manager in Louisville, he oversees 26 advisors who manage more than $4 billion. About half of the branch’s revenues flow from commissions — and the rest come from what he calls “reoccurring” sources, including advisory fees. But he and his colleagues recognize that advice fees create more predictable revenue streams and offer more potential for growth than transaction fees, and they align advisors’ interests with the clients’, he says.
That’s why McDonald appreciates his firm’s patience. “Hilliard Lyons has been very good at saying we want to do this, and — at the same time — they will still work with people who want to run a business in another way,” he says. “You can’t go in there and say you must change your business or you won’t make it, because that’s the way they have done for 30 years and they are making it.”
Ricki Hobgood is a branch manager for Hilliard’s office in Owensboro, Ky., who supervises 18 financial consultants with $1.3 billion under management. “I saw the writing on the wall in the ’80s,” he says of his employer’s transition to a fee-based business model. But he also expects the transition to take time, with “new folks” more likely torch bearers than the firm’s old hands.