By Morey Stettner
After launching their own firm, advisors at some point often come to a stark realization: I can’t do it all myself.
Despite their best efforts to outsource various aspects of the business, from compliance to marketing to tech support, they may conclude it’s time to hire their first employee. Soon enough, the challenges of hiring and retaining people take center stage.
As a practice grows, so does the need to assemble a great team. But advisors who excel at managing money and providing comprehensive financial planning may struggle to master the art of recruiting winners.
“Early on, you learn that you need to build a process for hiring people,” said Michael Krol, a certified financial planner in Bridgeville, Pa. “Having a process, and following it, is really important.”
Krol, 38, oversees the hiring of advisors at Waldron Private Wealth. Over the 10 years that he’s worked at the firm, he has sought to balance the need for adhering to tight hiring processes while showing flexibility when necessary.
“At first, I was too strict,” he said. “I didn’t recognize when flexibility was called for. As I got more experienced, I began to understand when to be more flexible and when to be more strict.”
For example, your process may involve interviewing a set number of qualified candidates for a particular job. But if a potential star walks in the door, you risk losing that individual if you insist on considering more applicants before making a decision.
“Great candidates require flexibility,” Krol said. He cites an outstanding person who was exceptionally impressive in interviews. But following his process, Krol talked to nearly 10 other job seekers.
“Only then, about a month later, did I make him (the outstanding candidate) a job offer,” he recalled. “Luckily, he joined us anyway. Now, I’d just hire him” without interviewing others.
A Three-Step Process
Nevertheless, Krol argues that a reliable process can boost the odds of successful hiring. Because the firm has tripled in size over the last decade, he says that following orderly, sequential steps when vetting candidates creates more consistent results.
Krol helped refine the firm’s hiring process about seven years ago. Thanks to input from outside consultants, Krol and his colleagues established a three-step approach to identify top advisors and other professionals that they wanted to bring aboard.
First, they conduct brief phone conversations with 20 to 50 applicants. Each call lasts as long as 30 minutes.
Krol estimates that about one-fifth of those candidates typically advance to the second round: a lunch meeting.
“You learn more about someone breaking bread in a social environment,” said Krol, who generally spends two or three hours dining with each individual.
The most promising candidates — two to five finalists — visit the office for a series of interviews with the firm’s managers and staff. Krol and his team don’t just pose questions; they also explain how they define excellence for that role and what skills they seek.
Aside from discussing positive attributes, Krol cites red flags to test one’s mettle. He likes to raise concerns and see how candidates react.
“I may focus on challenges you’d face to see if those downsides would scare you away,” he said. For instance, he might say, “You need to develop a couple of skills before you thrive here, such as technical proficiencies. How would you propose that you address that?”
Finally, Krol confers with the receptionist to get her input. He notes that some candidates might let their guard down when they don’t feel a need “to be on, and that’s when you see their true colors.”
Put Candidates To Work
Hiring often comes with considerable guesswork. While you can evaluate applicants’ credentials and experience, it can prove tough to predict the quality of their work if they were to join your organization.
Remove some of that uncertainty by inviting candidates to demonstrate their abilities.
When Sophia Bera, a certified financial planner in Austin, Texas, sought to hire a content manager, she asked job seekers to create five sample tweets for her firm.
“You can just tell who really understood my brand,” Bera said. “You could see who linked back to my blog posts and who referred to studies relevant to my followers.”
Referrals from individuals who are familiar with your firm can also help you identify strong candidates. By harnessing your professional network — and alerting clients and other fans of your practice about job openings — you might land highly coveted stars.
Bera writes a newsletter to about 1,500 subscribers. When she needed to hire an employee, she described the position in her newsletter and received about 25 responses from candidates.
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This content was originally published by Investors Business Daily. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Investors Business Daily