The first few years of a financial advisor's career can often feel like a "sink or swim" situation. Generating new leads while undergoing compliance and product training presents tough challenges.

Partnering with a senior advisor is one way for rookies to bypass the stressful start-up phase of building a new business, says Larry Distillio, assistant vice-president of practice management at Mackenzie Investments in Toronto.

An experienced advisor can fill a mentorship role and help rookies overcome some of the hurdles that arise when they are trying to get their business off the ground. Many firms offer at least some succession- or continuity-planning resources, and may offer support in pairing rookies with senior advisors.

However, if you're a new advisor seeking alternative ways to connect with a mentor/partner — or you're not associated with a firm that carries a robust mentoring or succession program — here are three ways to meet potential business partners:

1. Network at conferences
Attend conferences that offer opportunities to network with other advisors, Distillio says. At these conferences, advisors typically ask each other: "How is business?"

Most advisors reply that "business is good" or "we're really busy right now." But these responses aren't really catalysts for collaboration.

Distillio suggests that you talk about the work you're doing with clients, and then say that you're looking to form a partnership within the next 12 months. Even if the advisor you're talking to isn't in a position to work with you, he or she might be able to recommend someone or even make an introduction.

2. Explore online platforms
The web can be useful in helping you find advisors who might be interested in partnering with you. LinkedIn, for example, can help you connect with advisors who share your interests and objectives.

Website FindBob (www.findbob.io) primarily helps insurance and financial advisors find potential partners and successors, and buy or sell books of business. Distillio says this site can be effective in matching advisors, but he doesn't recommend using it as your only strategy.

"FindBob can be part of the puzzle," Distillio says. "But not every advisor looking to partner is going to be on it."

3. Talk to wholesalers
Wholesalers of financial products speak with advisors across all distribution channels on a daily basis while representing their firms. As a result, Distillio says, they often know what plans many advisors have for their businesses.

"They know whether or not someone is looking for a junior advisor," he says, "or whether a junior advisor is looking for someone to partner with."

Don't be afraid to ask your wholesaler: "Do you know anyone looking for a partner?" Your wholesaler might be able to provide introductions or recommendations.

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