Looking to expand your team and boost performance? Executive search veterans Kathy Freeman Godfrey and Jeff Warren have a few suggestions for recruiting and hiring financial advisors.
Both in recent conversations and during a presentation this fall at Echelon Partners Deal Makers Summit in Santa Monica, Calif., the pair laid out a step-by-step game plan for advisors trying to bring on new talent. Here are seven of their suggestions.
1. Dont confuse your target market. Advisors too easily forget that theyre addressing a potential recruit, and not another prospect, says Godfrey, who runs her eponymous firm in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Dont talk about open architecture and how great your performance is, she says. You want to articulate your value proposition specifically to your buying audience of talent, not a high-net-worth client. Describe why the firm is successful, what makes it different and why its growth prospects are good.
2. Explain how the hire will make a difference to the firms success going forward. Research what is motivating the recruit to make a change -- and describe how they can make a difference in your organization. Remember that people are not just motivated by money, Godfrey says. Executives at a leadership level usually want to play a meaningful role in shaping and building an organization.
3. Identify why the recruit is uniquely suited for the job role. Find out whether the recruit has the right skills for the job -- and then explain why there's a good fit. Whats special about them? A lot of peoples careers got blocked during the financial crisis and they will be eager to respond to an opportunity that theyre convinced is right for them, Godfrey maintains.
4. Fix your interview process. Plot out the interview's structure, timetable and format in advance, both recruiters suggest. Most candidates are great at telling an effective story about their career and the reasons for their transition, says Warren, a managing director at Russell Reynolds Associates in Los Angeles. But thats not what you want to spend all your time on. Limit their time and make sure you include time to discuss requirements for the position, their skill set, potential red flags, previous work situations and their insights on your organizations strengths, weaknesses and culture.
5. Get smarter about references. Take a 360-degree approach that includes supervisors, peers and direct reports, with both direct references from the recruit and indirect references obtained separately, Warren says.Dont just be linear, he says. Be comprehensive. Look at everyone in the recruits network and consider every angle. Try to talk to references in person. Youll learn more from body language and facial expressions than you will over the phone.
6. Ask references open-ended questions. Prepare and develop a checklist of key questions for references. Good open-ended questions are critical and yield valuable underlying information, Godfrey says. If you ask, Whats the biggest impact the executive made in your organization? and they have trouble of thinking of something, thats a red flag. Warren suggests asking about how a candidate handled a specific project, or for advice on how to work with the candidate.
7. Calibrate compensation realistically. Align what the firm needs and can afford with what the recruit wants -- and what he or she can wait for. You dont want them to come over just for the money, Godfrey says. Smaller firms who attract a candidate by offering a lot of cash usually lose out. Compensation should be fair but not outlandish." Think about balancing upfront compensation with a longer-term payoff, she says: "Consider an equity stake so they have a stake in the business becoming more valuable.
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