The institutionalization of larger advisory firms gives smaller firms a tremendous recruiting advantage–and opportunity. The hardest part of bringing a young advisor into a small firm is the time and effort it’s going to take in the first year or so to bring them up to speed. The good news is that the larger firms have already done that for you, and they’ve done it with the best young candidates that money can buy. Here are a few suggestions on how you can successfully compete in what’s quickly becoming a very hot recruiting market for these blue-chip prospects:
o Be flexible. If you want to run your business like a Nazi, go work at a bank. One of the biggest advantages a small firm has is that it’s not institutionalized. Don’t lose that. No time clocks, rigid rules, or other inflexibility. Your pay scale won’t be as high, benefits won’t be as good, and they won’t make as much as a partner, later. They know that, but are willing to trade it all for a better job in a better environment. Make sure that’s exactly what you’re offering.
o Don’t be cheap. I know it’s hard to believe, but there are some advisors who will see this as an opportunity to get a great deal on an experienced advisor. Resist the urge. Even in this environment, you won’t get a superstar at a bargain. What you will get is a good, experienced young advisor at a very fair wage. That’s more than enough. Just count your lucky stars, and don’t blow it. These kids won’t be as unsophisticated as you might want to believe. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot with a low-ball offer. Would you work for someone like that? Just be fair: it’s all they want, and what you should want to be.
o Make it clear you value what they have learned. When you’re hiring experienced professionals, even junior professionals, you’re hiring that experience. Be sure you get the maximum benefit from it. At a large firm, they have systems and procedures that would make you better, more efficient, and run more smoothly. Take advantage of that. Who doesn’t want to hear that you value their experience and are looking to them to help make your firm better? Value them, and you’ll get more than that value back in spades. I promise.
o Give them a real job. These folks just quit a great job at a great firm because they weren’t happy. How long do you think they’ll stay at yours if you don’t live up to your promises? Whatever you tell them about their job with you make sure you mean it. What they’re looking for is an opportunity to use the planning skills they learned in school and at their old firm, and of course, to work with clients. If you don’t think they’re ready to meet real people, tell ‘em. But also tell them why, what you’re going to do to help them get ready, and how long it should take. The bottom line is that these are serious young advisors, who want a serious job. Do both of you a favor: Be just as serious as they are.