I’m frequently asked how to recruit good young advisors. This is a problem for many advisory firms because it can often be a lengthy and time-consuming process starting with how to simply get the word out, then sifting through dozens (hopefully) of potential candidates, and finally dealing with the time and expense involved in meeting face-to- face with the top choices. Altogether it can often take up to year to find the right fit for a particular firm. 

Of course, we still do a lot of recruiting projects this traditional way, but all my ongoing consulting clients have been taking a different approach that can not only shorten the hiring process, but also greatly increase their chances of finding the right advisors for their firms: speaking at local (or not so local) college financial planning programs. Through my own experiences on faculty of the Kansas State University program, I know firsthand that most course teachers welcome knowledgeable outside speakers to both give the students a different perspective and themselves an occasional break. The students are usually more than a little excited to hear about the real world of financial advising and interact with experienced advisors. 

From a recruiting perspective, speaking to groups of planning students is the best way I know for owner-advisors to connect with young advisors, in a setting that’s more relaxed than an emotionally charged job interview. Interacting in a classroom setting certainly affords the opportunity to gauge students’ knowledge, level of interest and overall personalities, but it also goes far beyond that. Spending time with young advisors—listening to their questions, talking about their goals and plans—helps older advisors to understand this younger generation better, and consequently, makes them better employers. 

At the same time, the students have a chance to get to know the older advisor, too: to hear about their advisory philosophy, their approach to serving clients and their firm. Most important, the students get a sense of how an advisor’s firm works with young advisors. This is extremely important, and we coach our advisors that before they “go to class” they should get their training program and career path firmly in mind, so they clearly talk about what a young advisor’s experience will be like at their firm. 

In addition to having a day out of the office, where they can talk about some aspect of how they deliver financial advice to their clients and about their firm, advisors get a chance to know potential job candidates at a depth they couldn’t get any other way. Because the students get to know them, as well, when they do apply for a job, they already have a high level of interest.

It literally takes the recruiting out of recruiting—and many of my clients find they enjoy interacting with the students so much they sign up to teach financial planning classes themselves.