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Brett Davidson: Winning the war for talent

As problems around recruitment intensify, keeping your staff fulfilled is vital

The adviser recruitment issue is not going away, with pressure building due to the lack of fresh blood coming into the industry and a dearth of experienced and qualified candidates willing to move jobs.

And have you tried hiring a paraplanner lately? Not only are there not enough to go around but the outsourced paraplanning firms are growing and hiring, too. They offer some pretty attractive benefits, such as working from home, which might just help them edge it.

Attracting and retaining great people is one of the keys to building a successful business. The two go hand in hand. You are unlikely to attract great talent by accident; in most cases they will spot any over-promising a mile off. And if you do fluke a great hire, unless you can deliver an attractive work environment, you are unlikely to keep them.

Why? Because star performers have options. They can pick and choose between employers. Clearly, they want to get it right before joining, but if they do get it wrong they will not be hanging around for long.

So how do you retain talented people? It is primarily about fulfilment. Good people want to keep growing, learning and developing their skills. Generally, that is how they are wired anyway but it also keeps their working life fun and interesting.

Here are a few ideas on how to keep your team fulfilled:

1. Career path planning

It is important to have conversations about their future on a regular basis:

  • What direction do they want to travel in careerwise?
  • What aspects of the job are most interesting to them?
  • How could you get them doing more of what they love and are good at?
  • What areas would they like to develop further?
  • What parts of their job do they like least?
  • How could you get rid of some of those aspects of the job? Could you outsource, or move tasks to other team members who like to do them?

If high performers can see a future with you, they are much more likely to work hard and stay with you.

Make sure you are not making assumptions about the direction they want to go. Really listen. For example, do not assume all paraplanners want to grow up to be advisers. Some do not.

2. Use your coaching skills

When you speak to your clients, you ask lots of interesting open questions. This approach lets the client discover for themselves what an exciting or secure financial future might mean to them.

Why not apply those same skills to your staff? Ask them George Kinder’s famous three questions, or any other open questions you use with clients. The aim is to help your star performers uncover what ideal looks like for them. This might take many conversations over a number of months or years. As they progress, new exciting opportunities will open up for both them and you.

Using your coaching skills this way shows you care and keeps people engaged.

3. Progress them faster

I am an advocate of progressing people a little faster than might feel comfortable for the employer and employee. I do not mean throwing them in the deep end to see if they can swim but giving them more responsibility in the areas they want to move forward in, accompanied by a scheduled programme of training and mentoring.

Sometimes rapid progression allows both parties (employer and employee) to discover new talents and abilities. It is great to have people in their stretch zone.

Do not limit people unnecessarily and do not make any failures into a big deal. If they get stuck or it does not work, you will sort it out. No big deal.

The majority of life’s learning points arise from what might be deemed as failure. Do not let these situations go to waste. Stretch people, then use any challenges or mistakes as teaching opportunities.

4. Do not underestimate money 

Top performers know they are top performers and want to be recognised. That means paying them more than the rest.

If you believe someone is a star, be prepared to pay. Top performers are worth 300 to 400 per cent more to you than average performers. Paying at the higher end of the salary band for someone great is a smart investment. This could encompass salary and bonuses, unpaid leave options, home working or even equity in the business at some point.

It goes without saying that money alone will not keep a top performer, but it is an important issue to get your head around.

So make sure you have a talent management plan in place as part of your growth strategy. Get specific about what you can do to retain and develop the talent you already have.

Brett Davidson is founder of FP Advance

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