One of the most difficult challenges for independent advisory businesses is finding and retaining the professionals they need to service a growing client base and perpetuate sustainability. The talent pool is extremely competitive, especially in the financial services industry. The value of a strong team and integrated business is ever increasing, and the number of new advisors coming into the profession is still relatively low. To be successful in building the right team, you’ll need to be strategic in your efforts and focus on the people that best align with your business priorities and your plans for growth.
The first step to building your team is to identify the type of talent you need. Benchmarking analysis can help you understand business KPIs and limitations that will allow to you create a strategic growth plan. A strong team is critical for addressing your goals to:
- Improve capacity and attract more clients
- Expand service offerings
- Diversify your client base
- Create improved operational efficiencies
- Secure continuity of client service
- Prepare for succession of business ownership
Knowing your business better and how you intend to elevate it will help you recruit the right talent to support those efforts. As you craft your recruitment strategy consider your onboarding and compensation budgets, current and planned capacity, operational needs, gaps in business offerings, and plans for internal succession.
There are two general areas of talent you can target–seasoned professionals vs. newer, younger advisors–each has its benefits and challenges. Depending on your stage of growth, recruiting talent from both groups might be a good strategy.
Onboarding Seasoned and Established Professionals
It almost goes without saying that experience is an asset when hiring for any industry.
Professionals who have been in the industry longer and have more experience–and perhaps a greater variety of accreditations–than other advisors bring so much with them to your team. In addition to knowledge you’re often gaining industry connections, extended skill sets, and potentially a group of new clients. If this investment is available to you, it’s a good one.
Recruiting more experienced advisors is especially attractive for businesses who are looking to expand services, reduce training time, leverage new systems, and establish internal succession in the near future.
The competition to recruit established top talent is stiff, you’re likely not going to be the only owner familiar with a particular candidate, especially if they’re being active in their search. This is where a strong compensation structure and clear equity pathways are going to be key to your efforts. You’ll have to be on your game in communicating what you have to offer and in answering all their questions.
There are some other potential complexities to navigate when it comes to hiring more experienced advisors. There is the possibility that a new advisor will come to the table with some number of established clients. This means immediate growth, but it also means navigating the integration of clients into the existing base and service flow. How will this affect onboarding agreements and compensation? Will there be any sticking points when transferring them from another firm? How will you work together to ensure retention?
Aiming to recruit professionals that have much more industry experience and perhaps more credentials might seem like a no-brainer. But what if your business is in earlier stages of growth? You may not have the available compensation budget to be as competitive in your recruitment efforts. Younger advisors have lower salary expectations and may be more accessible for your current plans.
The Benefits of Fresh Talent
Newer and younger advisors are just entering the industry–or only have a few years under their belt. These advisors are less likely to have started their own book of business and are more likely to be looking for a spot on a successful team. Recruiting from this pool gives you the chance to nurture someone in their career and help them blossom into the type of leader you envision for your firm. This is especially applicable to succession-minded owners who have a longer timeline and would like more control over the future ownership of the business–and the future of the profession as a whole.
Younger professionals are able to connect better with younger generations of investors–including the heirs of your current clients. The world looks a lot different than it did for you when you started building wealth, certainly from the world in which some of your more established clients started in. Younger advisors can relate to the perspectives of younger clients and are able to understand their different priorities and challenges with financial health and wealth management.
New voices also mean new ideas that can help to invigorate the firm and spark growth you never even considered.
The challenge of onboarding younger advisors is that it will require more from you in terms of training and facilitating client relationships. There’s also more of a possibility that as these professionals evolve, you might discover they are not a good fit after-all. Fresh talent comes with more risk and time, but the return on your investment has incredible potential.
Advisors produce revenue for your business and they hold the credentials and client relationships that are the business. To do their job more efficiently, they need the right team to support them. The makeup of your non-producing team is going to depend on the size of your business, its available budget, and its stage of growth.
A good place to start is your client service team. These are the folks who are interfacing with clients and fielding communications. They’re developing systems to help the others in the office–including you–move efficiently through the day-to-day. They’re handling paperwork, phone calls, research, and making sure everything is getting where it needs to go. Good candidates for these roles might include professionals who have aspirations to become advisors.
As you grow into an enterprise and begin to realize the cashflow to support more significant investments in human capital, there are organizational responsibilities that can be improved by hiring experts. These roles include accountants, executive assistants, lawyers, marketing strategists, and HR professionals–to name a few. These are specialists specifically focused on the business rather than in it. Choosing to fill any of these roles on your team should depend on their growth impact potential in alignment with your business plan.
Non-producing professionals can make massive contributions to the efficiency and capacity of your producing team, as well as affect greatly affect growth by focusing efforts in specialized areas.
Where to Look
Knowing the type of professionals you’d like to recruit is only half the battle. Knowing where to find them is another challenge altogether. Below you’ll find a good list of places and resources for your search.
Networking – This is one of the most powerful strategies for finding potential talent. Engage with other industry professionals on LinkedIn, whether you’re hiring or not. Get to know other advisors in your area. Leverage your memberships with professional organizations to make connections. Maximize your time at conferences and other events. This strategy is useful for any role, but is perhaps the most effective way to find more established professionals who may not necessarily be actively looking to move businesses. Through organic conversation you may discover captive reps ready to move to an independent office, or other independent advisors who are not being offered the right career growth opportunities in their current position.
Talent Acquisition – Build your talent expansion priorities into any plans for acquisition. The purchase of a business with an established team interested in remaining under new ownership is a fantastic way to cultivate an experienced team–not just in the industry, but with those specific clients.
Industry Specific Job Matching – Organizations like CFA Institute, NAPFA, and FPA all have areas to post and find jobs within the financial services industry. It’s worth exploring other professional organizations you’re a part of for similar resources, especially with local chapters.
Generic Job Listing Sites – Indeed, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, etc – A good place to post open positions for advisors or non-producers of any level.
Universities–especially those with financial advisory programs–are a good place to find brand-new professionals. Consider recruiting from recent grads, or even establishing relationships prior to graduation by setting up an internship in your office.
Campus Placement Agencies – like universities, a good place to find new talent is through an agency that specializes in helping new graduates find jobs. These organizations are also great for finding candidates for non-producing roles.
Head Hunters – not a commonly used strategy, but if you have a specific type of recruit in mind for either a seasoned advisor or even a C-Suite non-producer, enlisting the services of a head hunter could help narrow the search and facilitate connections.
Once you’ve started your search for talented professionals, understand and maximize what you have to offer to recruit and retain the team you’re building. Consider how you will not only attract talent but keep them on your team as they grow and potentially elevate them to leaders and owners in the firm.
Your greatest recruitment and retention tool: well-structured compensation. Balance salary, bonus, and equity potential create a package that serves your team as well as encourages overall business growth. (Re)structuring your compensation for growth is fodder for a whole other conversation, which you can find over here.
A talented team of professionals at any level of expertise is essential to supporting the growth of your business and establishing sustainability. A team built with the big picture in mind can elevate and expediate that growth.
As with every decision you make, be strategic in your recruitment efforts and use business insights to guide you. FP Transitions can help you evaluate your business and choose the right recruitment targets, understand the cash flow you have to leverage in your efforts, and build a powerful compensation package to keep you competitive in the battle or talent. Let’s make a plan!