Can You Feel The Power Shift?
Jennifer Wilson

78 million Baby Boomers, born from 1946-1964 need to transfer responsibility, wealth, and assets over the next 12-15 years. It might be easy to lull yourself into believing that the impact of this is a ways off. But studies estimate that 10,000 to 12,000 people are retiring every day and the impact in firms (and in clients) is being felt.

Baby Boomers need leaders to transfer to — those entrepreneurial enough to keep a practice thriving, those with the respect and trust of others and above all, those willing to step up. If you look around the profession, truly capable successors are in pretty short supply, which means they are – or will be – in high demand. Following simple economics, when demand is high and supply is short, the asking price goes up. And in this case, the asking price isn’t just financial, it’s also cultural.

Millennial and Generation X up-and-comers envision a firm of the future that is much different from the firms we see today. They want firms that:

  • Are diverse
  • Offer genuine work/life integration and flexibility
  • Have given up their attachment to mandated “office hours” and work taking place at a specified location
  • Use technology maximally and constantly implement new and smarter systems
  • Provide challenging work opportunities
  • Reward performance fairly
  • Are open to change
  • Make a difference in the community

Many mature leaders don’t want changes made until they retire – and they are working hard to defer these discussions. But firms that understand that talent trumps all other critical success factors know they have to engage in the dialogue of change with their young up-and-comers, allowing them to be meaningfully involved in pilot initiatives to improve the business model and embrace the values they hold dear.

Without these young, talented up-and-comers in our profession and in our firms, sustainability is not assured. They have many options and the demand for their talent – which comes with “change strings” attached.

Secure your firm’s future. Acknowledge this shift in power and facilitate your young people sharing and then testing their ideas for change.




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2 Responses
  • Lana on March 7, 2014

    What an insightful + inspiring post! From what I’ve seen in practice, many firms are experiencing growing pains due to the challenges of bridging these generational differences. Even the most progressive firms who excel in branding themselves as such often fall short on execution. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, “Many mature leaders don’t want changes made until they retire – and they are working hard to defer these discussions.” Change is hard, especially when it impacts a business model that’s been in place for years. But as an avid runner, I always draw the parallel fitness goals: Only when we push beyond our comfort zones do we begin to see results.

    • Jennifer Wilson
      Jennifer on March 10, 2014

      Love it! I am a runner, too and am wrapping up a 108 straight day running streak. Changing my habits and the schedules of those around me to fit my runs in every single day for over three months has been a challenge. Communicating my needs and the benefits of the changes were critical to getting buy-in and real support. But supporting my running streak required my family to, at times, be truly SELFLESS. Just as changing an organization to attract, develop and retain the very best minds and leaders in the profession also requires incumbent leadership to put away short-term selfish interest for the greater good — and ultimately it enables them to secure their longer-range selfish interest – -their buy out and their legacy!

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