From the June 2007 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

The New Recruiter

One of the toughest jobs in the financial services industry has to be that of the financial advisor recruiter. Typically, the FA recruiter is a true people person. He or she can strike up a conversation with just about anyone and feign genuine interest in the topic at hand. Until, that is, he or she finds out you don't meet the firm's minimum production requirements.

Not that long ago, Mr. Recruiter had one of the best jobs around. What other jobs do you know of where you get to travel the country, eat in the finest restaurants, and drink like Britney Spears -- all on someone else's American Express bill?

To continue being able to order that nice vintage Opus, all Mr. Recruiter had to do was occasionally bring a new high-producing financial advisor into his broker/dealer. If Mr. Advisor didn't rush to sign the papers after a scrumptious dinner and cocktails, Mr. Recruiter had a few more weapons in his arsenal to help finish the job. One grenade the recruiter could throw was the completion of client paperwork. He could also lob a few mortar rounds of free financial planning software or free marketing support. At any point in the barrage, Mr. Advisor could surrender and sign on the dotted line.

Occasionally, Mr. Advisor was simply dug in too deep for this small artillery. In these situations, the recruiter needed to break out the heavy-duty stuff. The tactical nuclear bomb of the recruiter's weapons cache was cash -- otherwise known as the five-year forgivable loan. These bombs would detonate as a percentage of Mr. Advisor's most recent year's gross production. Even the most dug-in advisor could be tempted if Mr. Recruiter bracketed the right percentage.

Of course, as we all know, all good things must come to end. In recent years, compliance concerns have all but wiped out the "I'll complete your paperwork grenade." This leaves the bulk of information to be filled out in triplicate by Mr. Advisor and his staff. You can almost hear him think, "Hmmm . . . let's see . . . 3,000 clients, times 5 different forms, equals . . . what, are you NUTS?!" Unless the five-year forgivable loan is equal to the gross national product of Mexico, Mr. Advisor says "no m?s."

So, what can Mr. Recruiter do to help lure these now reluctant advisors over to his side? While I don't claim to have the silver bullet for all recruiters, I can foresee a future where savvy recruiters will begin to think creatively and offer more nontraditional services. It is my contention that some of these out-of-the-box services may just provide the tipping point needed so all of our recruiter friends can continue to enjoy their T&E budgets and box seats.

What could some of these extra services entail? Most advisors I know are family men and women with 2.3 children, assorted pets, and a white picket fence. Here's how the new recruiter might close the deal with Mr. Advisor. Trust me, no recruiters I know are going this extra mile:

"Mr. Advisor, my firm is prepared to offer you a substantial five-year forgivable loan. I will also paint your lovely picket fence and personally babysit your 2.3 screaming, snot-nosed children. During this same term, I am also prepared to walk Fido twice a day. In addition, I pledge to remove all of Fido's poo from your yard on a weekly basis. Would you like to sign with my pen or yours?"

As successful financial advisors, you know your business is highly valued by many broker-dealers. If you have a need that isn't being met, ask your friendly neighborhood recruiter just how badly he wants you to join his firm. In addition to the usual perks, you just might hit the mother lode.

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Once a mildly amusing comedian and a recruiter for a top independent broker-dealer, Bill Miller now works as an industry wholesaler; reach him at writingbill@mac.com.

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