Both recruiting and retaining talented advisors are two of a branch manager’s most important responsibilities. They’re also the most challenging. It can be hard for managers to see their methods objectively enough to evaluate them and, if need be, improve them. That could mean you are repeating the same costly mistakes, losing top prospects or simply hiring the wrong people.
We asked a number of recruiters what they feel are the most crucial things BoMs should consider when growing their teams. Here is a list of their top “Do’s” and “Don’ts” when it comes to recruiting—and retaining—the best advisors:
DO KNOW WHAT YOU WANT:
It sounds pretty basic. But when looking to hire an FA it’s important to sit down and determine what you really want and need in a recruit: Specific skill sets, expertise, personality types, product knowledge, etc… “Once you make these determinations, you’ll know precisely what to uncover during the interview process,” says Paul Werlin, president of Human Capital Resources, Inc., a Largo, FL-based financial services consulting and recruiting firm. While you may not find everything in a single candidate, you will be able to see if he has the skills that are most important to you.
DO SET REALISTIC STANDARDS:
Unfortunately, it’s fairly easy for branch managers to lose out on solid FAs by waiting for that ‘perfect’ candidate to come along “While it would be great to have a $500,000 producer with a spotless U4 who is bilingual and has a master's degree in finance,” Werlin says, you may wait a long time to find someone with such polished credentials. Of course, don’t hire someone you feel may not have a great chance of succeeding in the current market simply to fill a chair. “When a good solid candidate is available and interested, it’s usually a good time to just pull the trigger,” Werlin says.
DO STAY INVOLVED IN THE ON-BOARDING PROCESS:
Once a new FA is onboard, it’s not immediately back to ‘business as usual’ for the branch manager. “Every new advisor has a steep learning curve; your products, processes and just getting familiar with a totally new environment,” Werlin says. Having business cards ready and the phones and computers installed are important parts of getting a new FA up to speed as fast as possible, he says.
DON’T RELY TOO MUCH ON THE ‘ECONOMICS’ OF THE DEAL:
If managers rely purely on a financial incentive to persuade job candidates, they’re certain to overlook a lot of very desirable people, says Barbara Herman, Senior Vice President of Chester, NJ-based Diamond Consultants. “It’s natural to want to do that in such an aggressive recruiting environment,” she says. “But the ideal candidate is a seasoned and successful FA who doesn’t change firms every time he’s offered a nice check,” she says. “Or, someone who stayed put a few years ago, when going elsewhere would have been very tempting and easy.” This type of advisor is typically much more concerned with how a move might help him grow his business. “He’s part of a more thoughtful group who wants to know—deal aside—what moving to your firm will do for them in the long run,” she says.
Managers should customize their presentations to illustrate how they can meet the individual FA’s needs, Herman says. “Even the largest and most sophisticated advisors still want to grow their businesses. If you can show them how they can do that with you, you’ll be at a tremendous advantage from a hiring standpoint.”
DON’T LET THE HIRING PROCESS LINGER:
It happens all the time: Someone else at your firm must interview your candidate but is on vacation, then some paperwork gets lost, and a job offer is delayed. Managers should not to let more than 30 days go between an interview and an offer, Werlin says, or letting a candidate know he is no longer being considered. “Anything longer and candidates will begin to question your commitment to fill the position or your ability to make decisions,” he says. While no one expects instant decisions, dragging out the hiring process can prompt good candidates to seek opportunities elsewhere.
DON’T UNDESTIMATE THE APPEAL OF OTHER CHANNELS:
Successful wirehouse FAs and teams were once presumed to only move within the wirehouse world, Herman says. But, that is no longer the case. Managers must take all of an FA’s other options seriously. “Not every FA is looking for the largest upfront check,” she says. “And, we’ve seen, time and again, that advisors tend to want to move because they’re feeling frustrated. So, it’s important to try and determine what their frustrations are and specifically spell out what you and your firm can do to alleviate them.”
DON’T MAKE PROMISES YOU MAY NOT KEEP:
Nothing can destroy a new FA's attitude about his new job more quickly and easily than making him feel as if he had been mislead. “Don't promise sales assistants, discretionary bonus accounts, technology packages, etc. and not deliver,” says Herman. “When you bring a new FA onboard, you've made a verbal commitment to him,” Werlin says. “Don't break it. It's always better to under-promise and over-deliver than the opposite.”
DONT UNDER-COMPENSATE TALENTED ADVISORS:
Good FAs know their value. And, while you do need to consider how much of someone’s book is transferable, trying to save a few dollars until you know for sure is very shortsighted, says Werlin. “Top talent deserves top compensation,” says Herman.