Are firms doing enough to keep top talent?

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In my conversations with advisors and firm owners over the past year, I’ve heard a repeated lament: There is too much competition for top talent. Rivals are snapping up the strongest candidates, offering more money or more flexibility. Sometimes firms lose out because they are too slow to make an offer.

“Advisors may still be getting phone calls from competitors long after they’ve made a career move,” says associate editor Jessica Mathews, who wrote “War of retention: Firms fight to keep advisors.” She adds: “Firms need to realize that they are competing for advisors every day. It’s not a one-time sales pitch.”

Raymond James has learned this lesson well. The firm lures top talent with home office visits designed to showcase its corporate culture and resources. Costing the company upward of $2,000 per advisor, the visits take prospects on tours of various departments and arrange meetings with executives. It’s worth it, the firm tells senior editor Andrew Welsch.

“Our job is to connect an advisor with everything Raymond James has to offer,” senior vice president Frank McAleer says in Welsch’s piece, “Secret Trips to Raymond James?

Connection is vital, Mathews tells me. In the battle for talent, firms must offer more than a strong compensation package. Michelle Cortes-Harkins and Rick Harkins, who were recruited away from LPL Financial, told Mathews they wanted a company that led the conversation with whether it was a good fit for their clients.

Perhaps the most important point: Successful recruiting efforts can’t stop when new hires show up. “Are you gauging employee satisfaction or assuming it?” Mathews says. “Firms should pick up the phone, call up their advisors and listen. Ask employees what’s missing before trying to hire new ones.”

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