I Hired My Sons. It Isn’t Working

Beverly FlaxingtonBeverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

My two sons recently joined my 19-year-old practice. One is 28; he had a different career out of college and then decided to be an advisor. He obtained his CFP® and has been a very aggressive business developer for me in his first six months. The older son, now 32, has been in finance his whole career. He was on the institutional portfolio side, and I coaxed him into joining the firm about nine months ago given his depth of knowledge.

While the transition took place effectively at the same time (one nine and one six months ago) the results and experience has been nothing alike. My younger son is truly a go-getter – he will attend events, follow up with prospects, sit in on meetings and is hungry to learn more. My older son is complacent. He believes his knowledge of investments and his masters in finance is enough to qualify him for whatever pay and position he desires.

I’m finding it hard to reconcile this.

As you can imagine, there is some bad blood. Growing up, these two were always extremely competitive – both played sports, often went after the same girlfriend even with their two-year age difference, and both jockeyed for my ex-wife’s attention regularly (and still do). My ex-wife has an opinion that “equal is equal,” and they should be treated the same because they are both my sons. I’m running a successful business (we have seven other team members) and I don’t believe in nepotism. My sons will inherit plenty when I am gone, they are my only heirs. My focus is on making this business as successful as possible to leave a good legacy for them.