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Hire new advisors before you can afford them. Crazy or brilliant?

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NASHVILLE — Want to grow your practice? Try taking this uncomfortable step: “Hire before you can afford to and before you need it," says Carol Rogers, a financial planner with HighTower Advisors.

It may sound reminiscent of the 1989 Kevin Costner film “Field of Dreams,” famous for the line "If you build it, they will come." But Rogers' point — which she made at Investments & Wealth Institute's annual conference — was about how critical talented team members are and how hard it is to find the right fit when you really need someone.

As an example, she recalled a 2009 meeting with a young financial planner looking for work.

"I told him, 'We don't have a job, but let's talk back and forth about what you want to accomplish and what your skills are in,'" Rogers says. "Afterwards, I went to my partner and said ‘go talk to this young man because we cannot let him go.’"

"When you find the right person, you cannot let them go," she added.

Rogers spoke as part of a panel at the Investments & Wealth Institute conference (the organization was formerly known as IMCA).

Her approach has helped grow her practice during her roughly 40-year career. After merging her practice a year ago with another advisor, Rogers' firm has a dozen employees and approximately $650 million in client assets.

But her approach also isn't one a lot of advisors follow, says Beverly Flaxington, a consultant and author. "We often see advisors make a decision that 'This is coming out of my pocket and I will wait until I have the need.'"

Of course, no new hire will be a perfect fit from the get-go, either.

"I think there is a recognition that there are a lot of younger folks craving coaching and mentoring and figuring out where they fit. It's different than when we started, when it was 'Go do this thing,'" she says.

The importance of good coaching for next-gen hires can't be underestimated, Flaxington says. "Most of the time you have to do some work to make sure they are a fit."

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