The competition for talent in the financial advisory space is strong and Cannataro Park Avenue uses a homegrown approach in retaining advisors.

New York-based founder and partner Louis Cannataro says the firm’s strategy is to build advisors from scratch – hire them and then have them undergo a four-year advisor training track. This helps manage costs while ensuring that advisors are well-entrenched with the company’s culture, he says.

“Our biggest concern or cost is really human capital,” Cannataro says. “As our practice grows, we need to keep providing good advice and service to our growing number of clients, so we simply need more people.”

Cannataro Park Avenue, which is in its 28th year, has around 20 employees and four “full-pledged senior advisors” or those who went through the four years of training. Among them are Cannataro, who founded the firm 28 years ago, Bradley Bedell, Aaron Bell and Robert Reni.

Next to complete the advisor training program is Louis James Cannataro.

“What we’re doing on the advisor level is we are home-growing our advisors internally because then they’re steeped in the culture of how we approach the planning,” Cannataro says. “No matter which advisor you speak with, you’re going to get quite similar advice and focus.”

When Cannataro Park Avenue looks for new advisors, the firm seeks people who are long-term thinkers and are willing to go through the four-year advisor training track.

The training track involves spending time in the firm’s financial planning, insurance and investment divisions.

“Someone will come in and start in one of those desks, learn that desk, get the credentials from that desk and then rotate to the other desk,” Cannataro says. “By the time someone is four years into it, they have rotated through all those desks, they know all the phases of planning, tools and products.”

At the planning desk, the advisor-in-training learns how to conduct retirement planning.

“Planning is really the key because our first goal is to focus on our clients’ goals, their mission, what they are trying to accomplish in life,” Cannataro says.

At the insurance desk, the advisor-in-training learns to handle the life, disability and long-term care insurance needs of clients.

“That’s all of our clients’ defensive planning needs,” Cannataro says.

At the investment desk, the advisor-in-training learns to work on the analytics, execution and servicing of investments.

Cannataro says it’s not always easy to find a potential hire who’s a long-term thinker and going to fit in the culture of the firm.

“I think it’s tougher for the younger generation to think long-term. They tend to want to have instant gratification, and you know what, it just doesn’t happen, especially in this business,” Cannataro says.

And sometimes it doesn’t work out. One advisor-in-training left before completing the four years, for example.

Louis Cannataro

“We had one person leave in 2017. It took us by surprise and we almost couldn’t understand it because the person was already in year two-and-a-half of the rotation. This is the nature of the business. People will leave, especially the younger generation,” Cannataro says.

“It was better we found out sooner rather than later because we’re like a family here and you’re always disappointed when a family member leaves,” he adds.

Cannataro is among the 2018 Financial Times Top 400 Broker-Dealer Advisors. To qualify for the FT 400 list, advisors needed a minimum of 10 years of experience and at least $300 million in client assets. Qualified advisors were then scored on six attributes: AUM, AUM growth rate, compliance record, experience, industry certifications and online accessibility.