It’s a familiar trajectory for many high-potential advisory firms. An entrepreneurial advisor strikes out on his own. With hard work and long hours, assets under management grow along with the business. Management makes strategic investments, including a practice management system, marketing programs and perhaps upscale offices.

And then a few key people leave. Quality candidates are harder to find. Employees show up at work without enthusiasm or focus. And bold business strategies fade on the white board.

Advisory firms lose momentum two ways – gradually, and then all of a sudden. Often, you can point the finger in a particular direction: leadership undervaluing human capital and the strategic role of human resources.

With three decades of HR management experience, I can tell you that organizations that fail to realize their full potential or lose marketplace momentum are often those that have not invested in a talent strategy to drive business results. HR can play a critical role in driving growth of your firm if it is incorporated strategically, sitting at the table for all important business discussions.

People are every firm’s competitive advantage – particularly in our industry in which client service lies at the heart of what we do. Whether your firm is at the apex of its growth or just gaining a foothold in the market, it’s vital to invest in a fully-faceted HR role.

A fully engaged HR function can give your firm new traction across every sphere of its business – from culture and productivity to client satisfaction. Investing in an HR program can help you:

  • Attract and retain the best talent
  • Align employees with business strategies and leadership goals
  • Enhance the performance culture

Simple, but well-executed tactics can have a transformative effect on your firm’s performance. Here are a few to consider.  
Attract and retain the best talent

Employing the best talent – from your office support staff to advisors – will have a direct impact on your business results. To keep top talent, particularly in a competitive marketplace, you need to stand apart from other financial services offices.

There are simple ways to demonstrate that your employees are your most valuable asset. One way is to offer competitive compensation. Layer onto that employee appreciation events, then work toward creating an enriching and innovative workspace that fosters employee well-being and provides unique benefits, such as paid time off to volunteer.

To keep quality employees, it’s important that you offer a clear understanding of career paths within your firm and definitions of success for each role so employees understand how to chart success for themselves.

Align employees with business strategies and leadership goals

When employees buy into your mission and understand your business decisions and goals, your firm can move together in the right direction. Communication is the key to accomplishing internal alignment. Your communication approach should include internal communication channels, open dialogue and transparency from leadership. Provide leaders with the tools and resources to be effective managers and communicators.

Enhance the performance culture

From the smallest start-ups to multinational giants, companies thrive when their employees are happy and engaged. Satisfied employees will serve your clients better and strive to achieve more for themselves and the firm.

When it comes to employee satisfaction, you can’t rely on random feedback or make assumptions. Launch an annual employee satisfaction or engagement survey to create a baseline, then continue to improve on it.

Learning and development opportunities are also key to improved performance. Internal and external training and education, including earning industry designations or certifications, provide employees the skills and credentials they need to succeed.

I can’t think of any fundamental business goal –- from stronger financial results to improved operating efficiency – that’s beyond the scope of a quality HR program. By committing to making an investment in HR, good things will happen because you invested in your people.

Sallie Larsen is the chief human capital officer at LPL Financial, the nation’s largest independent broker-dealer and a member of FINRA/SIPC.

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