Growing a financial advisory practice comes with many challenges. From bringing in new assets to finding a work-life balance, these challenges consume much of an advisor’s time and attention. However, a challenge many advisors seem to ignore is also one that offers the most opportunity - hiring an associate wealth advisor.

The process of searching for, qualifying, and selecting a perfect candidate can be the most time-consuming project an advisor takes on. So, if you are looking to hire a new wealth advisor for your practice, here are four factors to consider before beginning your search:

  1. First and foremost, why are you hiring an associate wealth advisor? Think carefully about what you want the new advisor to do. Generally, there are three types of positions to consider:
    1. The Rainmaker - an experienced rainmaker or likely to become a strong rainmaker.  This person might ultimately become a partner in your business.
    2. The Relationship Manager - an advisor who is not a strong rainmaker, but would give excellent service to the clients assigned to them. This is a great model for a successful, rainmaking advisor with too many clients and a need to have someone else service them.
    3. The Planner - an advisor such as described in “b” above, but who also has the skill set to do internal work, such as financial plans for your firm or do the legwork on investment research for you and, perhaps, execute the trade.

    2. Analyze what type of personality and experience is best-suited for the position.

    1. For instance, any advisor you hire should have excellent interpersonal skills. They must have a strong understanding of, and be very committed to, providing outstanding client service. They should be a strong listener and communicator, be committed to always doing the right thing for the client, and realize the importance of prompt responses and accurate answers to client inquiries. In addition, they must have strong organizational and time management skills
    2. If you want an advisor to be a strong rainmaker, they should also be excellent at networking with the types of people you would most like to have as clients. They must truly enjoy socializing and meeting new ideal prospects.
    3. Alternatively, if you want to hire someone to also help you with financial planning or investment research, they must truly enjoy deep thinking, quiet concentration, and attention to detail. It can be very difficult to find a candidate who is truly strong in both the networking/rainmaking skills and the internal, detail processes, as these are very different skills.

    3. Is it important that an incoming advisor bring with them a book of business? If so, will those clients belong to the firm or continue to be owned by the incoming advisor? Are you willing to pay for this incoming book, or do you expect the new advisor to turn them over to you?  Do you want this advisor to be a W-2 employee or a 1099 contractor? Be sure you have thought through all of these things.

    4. Think carefully through compensation structure. You want to appropriately incentivize the new advisor to do what you want them to do. For instance, if you want this new person to focus part of each week on internal functions, such as financial plans or investment research, it may be good to provide some base salary for the time dedicated to those activities. Additionally, if this person is expected to provide outstanding client service to the households you assign to them, you may consider paying the advisor a portion, or a split, of the revenue generated by the assigned households. Finally, if you expect the new advisor to personally bring in new clients, will you allocate to him/her the same percentage of generated revenue for those clients versus the clients you assign internally? There is no right or wrong answer. You simply want to create the appropriate incentive compensation.

So, before you begin talking with advisor candidates, be sure to carefully identify the talent you wish to bring in to your firm. Then, set up a job description and compensation structure that will support and foster the behavior you want to see.  To help you clarify what you want out of an associate wealth advisor, go to and click on the Free Tools tab. Enter the code “AWA” in the appropriate field and receive a sample job description for an associate wealth advisor.

Remember, there are many ways to structure your practice and your staff so take this job description and mold it to fit your own specifications. You simply want to think it through first, and then hire the right person!

Ron Carson is founder and CEO of Carson Wealth Management Group, a comprehensive wealth planning firm, and founder of Peak Advisor Alliance, the largest advisor coaching program in the country. He also co-authored the practice management book Tested in the Trenches: A 9-Step Plan for Building and Sustaining a Million-Dollar Financial Services Practice and its revised second edition Tested in the Trenches: A 9-Step Plan for Success as a New-Era Advisor.

Ellen Konsdorf, an Executive Business Coach at Peak Advisor Alliance, contributed to this article. She consults and coaches financial advisors across the country, and helps them implement the proven tactics and strategies taught by Peak Advisor Alliance. With her extensive corporate finance background, Ellen specializes in helping advisory offices tackle the human capital challenges they face on a daily basis.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Financial Planning content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access