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The Unintended Consequences of Growth: Why Elite Advisors are Always Recruiting

By Ray Sclafani | February 18, 2022

Pick up any trade journal these days and you’re bound to see at least a couple of articles about the current ‘Great Resignation’ taking place in our industry. It’s one of the unintended consequences of the COVID fueled work-from-home phenomena combined with an unprecedented, extraordinary rate of business growth over the past two years.

We tend to downplay the capacity restraints that come with accelerated growth—as our teams feel compelled to do more and more as they onboard new client after new client. Stress among team members can gradually begin to boil over; far from an ideal situation amid this ongoing advisor migration towards perceived greener pastures. 

So, what’s the solution? What do you do if you’re an advisor in Kansas City and now (because of far greater mobility of advisors to work remotely) you’re competing for talent against firms in New York City or Los Angeles?

To paraphrase Alec Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross—always be recruiting! Yes, recruiting in today’s market environment can be challenging. But it can be a powerfully winning strategy if you’re able to create the right culture that attracts the right people to your firm.

Recruiting is prospecting; treat it that way

You have to approach the process of recruiting the same way you approach prospecting for your next best client. You don’t turn prospecting on and then off and then on again. The best in the business are always growing and always networking and prospecting in search of new clients. Looking for talent in today’s hiring landscape requires the exact same commitment. You should:

  1. Be constantly networking and consistently building a list. Since I started ClientWise 16 years ago, I’ve always maintained an up-to-date list of people I hope to hire someday.
  2. Use real industry benchmarks. Make sure you accurately understand exactly what role you are hiring for and what that specific job is worth in today’s marketplace. Make sure your firm’s compensation philosophy reflects a commitment to pay people ‘above market’ rates if you’re really committed to attracting the very best talent.
  3. Recruit ahead of capacity concerns. Avoid the mistake of falling into the all-too-common trap of stressing your team out just to incrementally improve the bottom line. Not only will hiring in advance of need enhance team morale, it will allow new hires to fully integrate into the enterprise before diving into the deep end.
  4. Think culture, career path, and clear vision of your future firm. You need to be able to paint a picture for potential candidates of a firm where they can grow as a professional, to evolve their career, and to be part of what you’re building as a partner or leader in that future firm.
  5. Make sure each employee has a written career plan. Just as important, make sure they understand what that path looks like. Keep in mind that not everybody will seek to ‘level up’ to the next role in the firm. Some people enjoy the role they have and simply want to get better at what they love doing. So, be clear that you understand their long-term desires.
  6. Recruit for enterprise value. Remember to not look for just another employee. You need to recruit people who want to be a part of and grow the value of the enterprise you’re building; who want to make a meaningful impact on the organization by increasing the value you deliver to clients.

It’s the advisors, CEOs and leaders who have a consistent talent recruiting focus and dedicated recruiting resources (either internal or external), who are consistently attracting and retaining top talent. They’re able to paint a picture of the future firm, and then partnering with potential candidates to better understand what each individual wants out of his or her career and work. If you can effectively match those two up—where the firm’s headed and where the individual is headed—you’ll enjoy tremendous recruiting success.

Lastly, now’s the time to be increasing the frequency and level of communication with your team. Integrate more one-on-ones with team members. And strange as it may sound, try to inject more fun into your team meetings and daily interactions. We conducted an extensive survey of advisory team members late last year—asking people what they were most looking for in their workplace (Click Here to download a copy of our Defining Your Future Team survey results). Consistently, after a year of working remotely, ‘fun’ was one of the things employees seemed to value most.

Coaching Questions from this article:

  1. Ideally, what do you want the team you have built or are building to truly accomplish and what characteristics/qualities are most essential to achieve that objective?
  2. In order to have a truly high performing team, what are your firm’s most pressing hiring needs?
  3. What actions do you plan to take over the coming year to ensure that you stay ahead of capacity concerns?
  4. What actions do you plan to take over the coming year to instill in your team the qualities/characteristics you most desire?

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Topics: human capital recruiting

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