Hiring staff to help streamline processes and handle the workload can lead to huge growth for financial advisors who are willing to take the plunge, says Chad Olivier, founder of The Olivier Group, a financial advisory firm in Baton Rouge, La.
Olivier said he hired his business manager in 2006 as part of an intern program. She joined the firm full-time after she graduated from college, and since then he has also added a full-time sales assistant and a junior advisor.
Hiring someone to manage his business allowed Olivier to him to systemize many aspects of the firm, improving the contact management of clients, setting up regular emails and newsletters, and generally making the back-office of the firm more efficient. That freed up time for Olivier to pursue new clients and grow his firm’s asset base.
Olivier then was able to hire and train a junior advisor, and transition smaller clients to him. Now that advisor is also building his own group of clients. Meanwhile, the sales assistant that Olivier hired is able to do a lot of the legwork of financial planning, as well as help out with prospective clients and referrals.
Having these employees has “taken a lot of pressure off me,” Olivier said, because they can take care of a lot of routine matters that used to take up more of his time. Since all the members of his staff are Series 7 licensed they are able to handle many questions and issues that come up even if he is not in the office, he said.
Olivier said he understands that many financial advisors are reluctant to hire staff because of the time and energy that it takes to manage people, but he said he feels that the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Olivier said his firm’s assets under management have grown 300 percent since he first hired his business manager and he feels that the improved processes are a big part of that growth. “It’s amazing, when I look back, how fast our assets have grown,” he said.
Solo practitioners who are interested in adding staff but unsure how to start may want to consider beginning with interns, Olivier said.
“I like the whole internship program,” he said, because you can really see how a person works. “It’s a continued interview for the job,” he said.
If an advisor finds an intern that is detail-oriented and suits the style of the firm, he or she can hire that person when they graduate, Olivier said. If that person is given the task of keeping the office organized and running efficiently, “all of a sudden you’re going to have free time – free time when you could be prospecting and bringing in more clients.”
Not only has the staff helped grow his firm, it has also freed up time for him to write a financial planning book and get started on a second one. His first book is called “What Medical School Did Not Teach You About Financial Planning” and it provides specific financial planning advice for doctors and dentists, who make up a large portion of his practice. While many doctors and dentists are in private practice, and in essence, small business owners, “In school they don’t teach you anything about running the actual business,” Olivier said. In many cases whether or not a doctor or dentist has a decent retirement plan will depend on happenstance, such as whether or not they joined a practice right out of school that had such a plan in place.
With these clients the finances of the medical practice are a huge part of their overall financial plan, Olivier said, so he often acts as a planner for either the doctor or dentist him or herself and the business as well. He said he likes to look at every component of a client’s finances, and will make recommendations such as a mortgage refinance if he sees a benefit in doing that for the client.