Ultimately, owners and managers have huge responsibility in making sure their firm moves forward.  Often, the choices they make around their staff are the biggest factor in whether they are successful or not.

Dr. Jeremy Wortman, a director at TD Ameritrade, shared how having the right employee in the right job results in happier and more productive employees, higher client satisfaction, a leaner staffing structure, less turnover and ultimately lower operational costs.  The following are points he shared at the TD Ameritrade Institutional’s 2011 conference.

Begin at the Top

To build a high-performing team, the advisor should start with a strategic approach.  Organizations that have firm vision and mission statements have higher performance than those that do not.

As a whole, firms that stand out from the rest have certain consistent habits, such as

  • Clearly putting people first
  • Investing more to retain the best people
  • Utilizing performance management systems
  • Implementing significant incentives on top of normal salaries

Engaging Talent

Bringing on the right individuals come done to them being attracted to the firm’s values and personality.  A firm needs to first determine its values and culture.  It can start this process by surveying the key players or maybe the entire firm.  Once in place, the organization needs to communicate that brand to all.

Next, identify the management philosophy of the leadership team and be sure it it is clearly communicated to all.  The more you share, the harder they will work for you.  Certain performance in management activities should be in place, like equitable pay and regular feedback.

A personality assessment is also helpful to know how people fit and will interact with others.  It is not just all about previous experience.  Good social skills are needed, which can help avoid personality issues.  By assessing group dynamics you can learn where are potential conflicts, where can team members be best utilized and where is there a need for better communication.

It is important to know, changing someone is hard to do.  After the age of 20, our personalities are stable and enduring over time.  They can only really change if one has a life-changing event.

Building Talent

When it comes to building talent, advisors know it is important but most believe it is distracting from running a business.  They also know that high turnover rates can be very costly to a firm.

Each individual should have a unique development plan, including those at the top of the food chain.  If individuals know what they want to become, the right training can be identified.  Once that is all in place, they will work harder.  They should also get ongoing feedback on their performance, both positive and negative.

One great question to ask, “How are you adding value to the mission?”  This helps them connect their day-to-day role with the larger direction of the firm.

Keeping Talent

When it comes to retaining good talent, here are the factors that rank the most important.  Note that pay is not at the top of the list.

1. Collaborative involvement

2. Intellectually challenging

3. Healthy balance between work and life

4. Understanding vision and strategy

5. Well compensated

A succession plan is just one of the talent management activities that can take place.  It is also important to connect key business performance measures with the team.

Attaining Business Goals

The strengths of leaders should be identified and improved.  By creating great managers, you can then engage employees at a much higher level.  This results in happier clients, organizational growth/efficiency and increased profits.

On average, compensation is 75% of the total spending by advisory firms.  It is also very expensive to replace an employee.  Clear evidence of why advisors need to focus more attention on their staff.

If there was one thing that Wortman was clear about it was that good owners and managers make their employees their top priority.

Mike Byrnes founded Byrnes Consulting to provide consulting services to help advisors become even more successful.  His expertise is in business planning, marketing strategy, business development, client service and management effectiveness, along with several other areas.  Read more at www.byrnesconsulting.com.