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Last month, we examined the importance of building a great staff family with incentives. But how do you get those exceptional employees in the first place? Remember, their deliberate attentiveness when your office hosts a new prospect, and their ability to recognize that person’s unique value and life experience and empathize with their successes and losses, is ultra-critical to establishing deep, lifelong client relationships.

Q: So where does one find employees like that?

If your specialty is assisting risk-averse retirees, would you market yourself in advertising targeted to young people? Of course not. Then why run an ad in the newspaper casting so broad a net that hundreds of people respond to it? Your time is valuable; spend it in front of applicants you know are a pre-qualified fit for you.

I believe in using a staffing service because you tell them specifically who/what you’re looking for as a person, and they send you two to three candidates to interview, people they’ve already spent hours vetting, background-checking, skills-testing and assessing for compatibility with your corporate culture. Yes, the firm gets a percentage of first-year salary as its finder’s fee, but you spent 10—not 200—hours finding another corporate teammate who may well be present at your retirement party in 25 years. How much money does turnover cost you—not just in re-training hours, but in the eyes of your clients who may wonder why you can’t seem to keep staff around for very long?

Another area where many advisors miss the mark is in favoring skill sets over temperament and judgment. Does it matter if someone is a genius with a computer, if they’re insensitive, moody, lacking in discernment, and aren’t someone you’d trust to interact with your best clients, making them more of a liability than an asset? I can train a novice to complete most tasks—it’s a lot harder to teach integrity, discretion, and a sense of the appropriate in personal interactions.

Is this person an entrepreneur?

A key question in any hiring decision is “Is this person entrepreneurial—will they treat my business like their business—anticipating problems before they occur and taking responsible ownership of problems after they occur?” A clock-punching task-doer doesn’t see the bigger picture. An entrepreneurial teammate will have your back, blend seamlessly and respectfully into your existing staff family.

When your teammates understand their unique and important roles—and you appreciate them with both words and dollars—the strength and depth of your relationships will be visible to all.

Next month: Branding your firm

“An entrepreneurial teammate will have your back, blend seamlessly and respectfully into your existing staff family.”

Thomas K. Brueckner is president and CEO of Senior Financial Resources, Inc. in Nashua, N.H., and Strategic Asset Conservation, Inc. in Scottsdale, Ariz. He is a Senior Market Advisor 2011 Advisor of the Year Finalist.