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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Talent Wars: Lessons From Leading Firms

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As part of our recruiting process, we periodically check in with candidates to gauge how they are acclimating to their new position. A new planner candidate we placed early last year mentioned to us that “the position has exponentially exceeded expectations.”

Given that this candidate started with high expectations, it is worth noting what makes an opportunity so compelling.

Trust and Collaboration

One of the most commonly cited attributes of a great” position is a role with clients early on. This provides the new planner an intimate view of how the firm makes clients’ lives better and sends the message that you trust them.

New planners need to earn that trust, but owners need to give them an opportunity to earn it. Stashing a new hire away for several years before introducing them to clients is not the answer.

Leading Firm Practices

  • Allow new hires to assist with annual client events and to participate in the recruiting process for other new hires.

  • Provide flexibility for new hires to pursue subject matter expertise, attend conferences, etc., recognizing that any advancements in their professional standing will benefit the firm as well.

  • Recognize and reward good deeds early to reinforce good behavior. When a team member works late, order dinner and write a note to thank them.

Emphasis on Team, Well-Being

With ensemble models, there is increased pressure to recruit a team player, someone who can check their ego at the door. Many recruits will say they can do this, but few actually can. There are many tools such as Profile XT, Strengthsfinder and Caliper that can help assess a candidate’s ego and overall fit within the personality framework of the existing team.

Also, consider the health and welfare of your team as well, to foster deeper interaction and higher learning.

Leading Firm Practices

  • Have a fitness facility on site or reimburse employees for gym memberships. (Again, their good health benefits the firm, too.)

  • Provide wireless headsets and standing desks for everyone in the firm.

  • Offer meetings with a psychologist to ensure continuous well-being.

  • Team members rotate choosing a team building activity, e.g., bringing gifts to a children’s hospital, going on hikes.

Compensation and Benefits

The nationwide average starting salary for a new college graduate with a financial planning degree used to be in the $40,000-$50,000 range. Now it is in the $50,000-$60,000 range based on the candidates we work with. Several of our candidates have received offers in the mid-$60,000 range, with one turning it down, opting for the “better training” opportunity that actually paid less.

Leading Firm Practices

  • Regular catered lunches

  • Charitable giving matching program

  • Fully stocked kitchen

  • Movie and sporting event tickets

Superior Management, Mentoring

Bringing on a new team member is similar to someone joining your family. Firms will get the most out of their new employees by providing a strong support system, especially if they are relocating.

Your team members want to know you care about their success and can get them where they want to go. If they experience success, the client experiences success, and ultimately the firm is successful.

Additionally, the firm owner should not ask someone to do something they would not do themselves. When the firm owners are faxing, copying, emptying the dishwasher, etc., it solidifies the everyone-pitches-in-to-get-it-done type of culture most firms are striving for.

Leading Firm Practices

  • Managers who are approachable, organized, calm and listen well know when to delegate, and value opinions.

  • Pair new planners with a mentor.

These suggestions aren’t just for large firms in high cost-of-living areas. We see these opportunities offered at firms of all sizes throughout the country. Turnover is low because the team is jazzed about the work they are doing. If you are not offering this, you will lose your top talent to competing firms that are.

— Read “3 Critical Steps to Groom Your Successor” on ThinkAdvisor. 


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