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Damian Davies: Turning paraplanner recruitment on its head

Damian-DaviesGambles have been taken, including
saying goodbye to recruitment consultants

As the first article from me in 2019, I should pick a subject that will really grab your interest; something exciting and inspirational. Instead, I have decided to write about recruitment.

I wanted to tell you about two big changes that we have made to the way we are engaging with candidates. Hopefully, they may be useful to you.

Firstly, we have changed the timing of our recruitment. To date, recruitment has been reactive and driven by workload. We work with clients on a retainer. Not only that, but our clients determine the amount they want to pay as a retainer. The reason for this is it helps us understand what the expected flow of work will be. This, in turn, helps us understand the likely level of work needed.

Nick Bamford: Problems with paraplanner recruitment

As such, we can easily predict when we need more resource and therefore go about recruiting. We might go a few months without recruiting or we may need a couple of candidates in one month.

The problem with this is that we are only able to pick from the people who are available at the time of the resource pinch.

More often than not, you are hoping those leaving a position at that time are perfect for your needs. This, in turn, has sometimes meant we have had people in the team that do not directly reflect our culture. The upshot of this is that, at some point, they are going to leave.

So why take them on in the first place? We have been pretty lucky with staff retention but have not always got it right.

Taking a gamble

We are now going to move to a more proactive basis, opening recruitment once a quarter rather than when we have a need.

Instead of the increase in clients driving the increase in staff, this means we will engage clients to match the number of staff we have in the team. This is a bit of a gamble, as we might sometimes be over-resourced, but it means we can focus on having the most appropriate people in our team.

If we do not meet any candidates that we feel match our culture in one quarter, we know we cannot take on any more commitments to work.

Likewise, if we meet three people who really match our culture, we know we can happily welcome in clients that match the resource.

The other big change is that we are no are longer going to work with recruitment consultants.

This is a big gamble, as recruitment consultants are excellent at controlling distribution.

They do this by making the candidates feel they are working for them rather than us.

Damian Davies: How failing to prove ongoing advice could cost you fees

Incredibly, candidates believe they stand a better chance in a role if they come through a recruitment consultant.

I have had people I know come to me through a consultant rather than directly for exactly this reason.

Maybe it is just the firms I have dealt with that have resulted in a poor experience. I know there are good recruitment consultants out there; it is just that the bad ones really drag the reputation of the rest of their industry down.

Greedy recruiters

The biggest problem I have with recruitment consultants is that they forget who their clients are.

The very thing that makes them so successful at controlling distribution is the one issue that drives me away.

The employer pays the fee, which is usually a percentage of the salary, i.e. a lot of money.

Nevertheless, recruitment consultants always start their messages with things like, “I am representing an excellent candidate…”

If you are representing the candidate, why am I paying your fee? Surely you should be learning about what I am looking for and finding the right candidate?

I have had incidences in the past where recruitment consultants have contacted the person they have placed with us six months and a day later, telling them about the next exciting opportunity. This timescale is significant, as it is when their indemnity period to repay fees if a candidate leaves expires.

How to attract and recruit the best advisers

Recruitment consultants are also not doing much to help improve the perception of paraplanning in many adviser business owners’ eyes.

There is a sparsity of paraplanners, so recruitment consultants are encouraging individuals to bounce around firms chasing higher and higher salaries just to generate fees for themselves.

These kinds of changes come about as you realise there is no one right or wrong way to do things.

We will have to put a bit more work into our recruitment process, and I imagine it will be a slow build, but we feel this is more beneficial for us.

The cosmic joker was having a field day when he managed to manipulate it so that some of the greatest responsibilities we have in life, such as having children, taking in animals or running a business, do not come with a guidebook.

Just like parenthood, running a business is a hard thing to get right, but we are constantly learning things and tweaking what we do to keep adapting.

Damian Davies is director of The Timebank

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