Skylight’s Holistic Training and Development Program Sets Financial Planners on the Road to Success

Katy Bryan, Senior Associate, and Financial Planner has recently taken over the reins as Skylight’s Training and Development Manager/Director.  Here, Katy talks about her new role and how Skylight’s holistic training and development program will help financial planners to build their career and take their business to the next level.

What attracted you to the role of Training and Development Manager/Director?

Training is something I really enjoy doing.  I was a postdoctoral research fellow for several years before

becoming a financial planner and in this position, I gained lots of experience putting together and delivering training courses.  So, it seemed like a natural fit to combine this experience with my experience as a financial planner.  I want to help people learn and see them succeed.

What’s Skylight’s vision for training and developing its financial planners?

I’m heading up the training and development of financial planners with less than 7 years’ industry experience and our vision is to provide a supportive structure and a holistic approach.  Continuous support is available and we are always looking for ways to help our planners grow. I’ve heard that other firms invest considerable time upfront with training but then this isn’t sustained. We offer ongoing support as our planner’s business evolves over the 6 years, and offer training opportunities suited to their stage of development.

It’s also holistic as everyone contributes to the training and development – from marketing to our experienced planners and partners, to members of our Case Design Center, New Business Department, accountability managers, right to our Chief Operating Officer, Dan Brennan, who has vast life experience within the financial services industry. This way we can tap into the wealth of experience of our in-house team and supplement with external trainers who we identify as adding further value.

Since taking over the reins six months ago, I am building a greater structure to the program which is always evolving. We will continue to look at ways to improve the program in response to changes in the industry and the needs of a new generation of financial planners and how they best learn.

What kind of training and support do you provide for a financial planner starting out in the industry?

We start with a 3-day boot camp which is designed to provide enough information so that our new financial planner can learn the business right away and get off to a fast start.  We teach them what it takes to become a business owner including how to sell, how to market themselves, how to use technology to enhance their practice, how to track their success and client acquisition strategies, and how to build a strategic financial plan customized to fit our client’s needs. We also provide financial planning and product training using real-life scenarios to emphasize how important their job is and how instrumental they can be in helping clients at some of the most critical times of their lives.

The training is delivered by a combination of internal (including my good self!) and external trainers such as the American College of Financial Services and renowned national training firms.  Learning takes all forms from group sessions to online product learning with MassMutual.

Basically, we run a program that lays the groundwork for new financial planners to be able to run a successful business and goes well beyond offering solely product-focused training.

How does the training program evolve after the initial boot camp?

Support is ongoing and our financial planners have regular access to product, marketing and sales training, case design and mindfulness delivered by internal and external trainers.  The training is tailored to match the planner’s stage of development, teaching more advanced skills as they progress.  There are also opportunities to be educated on niche markets such as LGBT, Special Needs or Business Solutions which takes a greater teaming approach.  What’s great is that training continues to be available in a range of formats such as one-on-ones, mentoring, group workshops and role-playing with peers, senior partners or our Accountability Directors who are best placed to help with a quick fix.

As our financial planners become more experienced, the emphasis shifts to getting them to think more for themselves, so interactive workshops and case study training courses are more common.  For example, we run a partner-led workshop where our financial planners are presented with a case and they work in groups to come up with recommendations.  This is then compared with what the senior planner would have done to identify and discuss areas of difference and how the less experienced planner can learn from this.

Ultimately, we want to provide training that is comprehensive and ongoing but also provides real-life scenarios and taps into the vast experience of your in-house team.  We believe these elements are essential in helping our financial planners advance their knowledge, develop their skills and greatly helps them to build a successful practice.

Thanks Katy for sharing with us.