Playing out of position is something that rarely works out long term — it's true in sports and it's true for financial advisory teams.

Pressing a baseball catcher into one-time duty at first base, or turning a quarterback into a receiver for a play or two might work as a gimmick, but with few exceptions, that's the limit of such strategies' success.

This analogy does not strain when applied to the financial advisory business. Promoting a sales assistant to broker or giving full-blown advisory duties to a junior team member might seem like a good way to reward strong performance in those roles. But before such a reward is extended, determining the team member's ability to handle the new job is of paramount importance.

The costs of a bad hire are staggering. For starters, there's the direct costs, which can exceed three times the person's annual salary. Then there's the potential disruption of team chemistry, which can end up costing a practice even more.

Here are six steps to avoiding such troubles:

Step 1:

Clearly define the role

Having worked with junior financial advisors on numerous teams over the years, I am aware of the many different roles they can play. It is important to determine both the areas of the junior rep's responsibility and the specific tasks required for excellent performance.

Step 2:

Develop a metrics system for the role

Without a system for measuring performance, you will not know if the person you hired is performing well until you have wasted a lot of time, effort and money trying to figure it out. Every new hire, whether a support person or a junior financial advisor, should be held accountable to a set of defined expectations from the very beginning. Otherwise, a bad hire can go six months (I've seen them last for years) before corrective action is taken.

Step 3:

Perform a street-smart background check

In today's litigious society, nobody is going to say anything negative about anyone. It's your job to uncover the real story. Beware of job-hoppers. Experience is good, but you can also be hiring bad habits and a sour attitude. Work to uncover your applicant's real dreams, desires and specific goals.

Step 4:

Benchmark the job and assess the candidate

Though most people are familiar with assessment tools like DISC profiling, rarely are these used properly in the hiring process. A behavioral profile by itself will not determine if and how someone will perform the job you have in mind. You need to also assess their personal values and motivations — and then match those to specific job requirements. Most people don't fail because they lack skills or knowledge. Most often it's because their personal skills are not appropriate for the job. First, benchmark the job to determine the personal skills required for job success. Next, determine whether each candidate's personal skills match those required by the job.

Step 5:

Expand the interview process

Have you ever encountered someone who interviewed extremely well, but turned out to be the polar opposite of his interview persona? I have, and it's painful to experience. One way to avoid this is to present the candidate with a real-case homework assignment. Also, try to meet his family. You'll be amazed what you can discover when someone is interacting with their family.

Step 6:

Commit time and energy to train and develop your new hire

No new hire comes pretrained to your business needs and your team dynamics. Imagine the dollars lost when a senior financial advisor won't devote adequate time to developing a new hire. Even if the first five steps are followed and you hire right, you will multiply the newbie's value significantly by bringing him up-to-speed quickly.

To learn more about hiring the right people, send an e-mail to, and we will send you a free eBook titled, Hiring Right.