When I came out of the financial planning program at Kansas State in 2000, my classmates and I went all over the country to find jobs. We had people going to New Jersey, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Texas, and St. Louis. I took an internship in Charleston, South Carolina. Yet within the past couple of years, the demand for experienced young professionals has become so strong that we all realized we could live anywhere we wanted. Virtually all of us have since moved back to Kansas and the Kansas City metropolitan area.
The challenge of recruiting advisors today has crescendoed to a whole new level: The demand for young professionals is so strong that the game has really changed. For advisory firms looking to hire–and who isn’t, these days?–this new environment raises a whole host of issues that go far beyond higher salaries and formal career tracks.
Many practices face the very real prospect of taking far longer to fill jobs while spending much more time and effort to do so, taking less qualified prospects, and possibly not getting anyone at all. Here are some strategies that we use to mitigate today’s recruiting pain, and position advisory firms to successfully compete for young talent.
A Lack of Courtesy
Consider a few experiences I’ve had this fall recruiting for advisory firms: One announcement for a support advisor position received 250 responses, but only two of them had their CFP education requirements. The rest were truly entry level, and most firms–including that one–don’t want to train someone from scratch. So we called the two potential CFPs within a week of when the announcement was posted: both already had jobs.
For another client, our posting for a lead advisor position received some 30 responses. Of those, 15 were qualified, and they were only interested in talking about the starting salary, the career track, and the firm’s culture. But this job was the first lead advisor for the small but growing practice, and no one wanted to blaze that trail. We’re now on our sixth job offer. Finally, at a firm in a small town in the Great Plains region that recently retained us, they’ve had a support advisor position open for a year and a half.
Equally as annoying these days, thanks to their new-found advantage, courtesy from job applicants is out the window; no thank-you notes, turned down second interviews with no explanation, rescheduling interviews, and late cancellations, sometimes a few minutes before the appointment. I had one job applicant reschedule an appointment minutes before it was scheduled, because he wanted to take a long weekend in San Diego. The next week, he called to say he had accepted another job he just interviewed for in southern California.
Screen Out Comp Shoppers
In addition to the stiff competition for–and high demands by–prospective employee advisors, the recruiting process also is being bogged down by a current wave of compensation shoppers. After reading the myriad studies and articles reporting how compensation for young advisors is skyrocketing of late, many of today’s applicants are simply looking for a high job offer to show their current employer as a negotiating ploy. Not only does this waste the time and effort that the prospective employer spent in interviews, offers, and negotiations with them when they never intended to take the job anyway, it can greatly draw out the time it takes to fill a position. In my view, such bad-faith tactics should be a red flag to these advisors’ current employers: If they’ll treat someone else that way, chances are that sooner or later, that’s how they’ll treat you as well.