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Free services are just the job

Why would an IFA firm usea recruitment agency to find good staff and sales people when we have the free services provided by the nationwide network of job centres at our disposal?

I recently needed to recruit an administration assistant and our ad in the local job centre quickly generatedhalf a dozen applicants.I employed the second oneI interviewed and so far she seems to be turning out fine.

Yesterday, I received details from an agency of “a fantastic individual seeking a new challenge”. The only problem was this “fantastic individual” has no experience in finan-cial services.

Every month, I receive one or two calls from recruitment agencies trying to placea sales consultant. I used to say that we simply do not use recruitment agencies. One caller asked why. In response, I said: “Because you charge far too much for doingfar too little.”

This prompted an audible intake of breath but no attempt to justify what they charge for what they do.

In response to the last couple of calls, I have asked: “What does your candidate have to bring to my business? Do they have an existing client bank?” Although such conditions are effectively unenforceable, all contracts of engagement include clauses sternly forbidding the poaching of clients after a consultant has left, so the answer to this question, so far, has always been no.

“Does your candidate have professional connections for future referrals to wherever they may be working in the future?” The answer to this question is also always no.

“Does your candidate have any sources of business other than those of whicheverfirm they may be working for at any given time?” Again, the answer is no.

The following questions are also all rather awkward for recruitment agencies:1: How can we have any confidence in your candidate’s prospecting abilities, as a salesman, when they cannot even be bothered to prospect fora job for themselves?”2: Is your fee negotiable?3: Can we arrange to payyour fee by instalments over 12 months, so that if the candidate should turn outto be no good, we won’t have to fight to get back at least part of what we will have paid for them?

How can these outfits believe that a candidate unwilling or unable to prospect can possibly be worth upward of £5,000to a potential employer?

Many years ago, we once paid an agency £5,000 fora consultant who then left after two months, having had no intention of staying with us once he had found the job he had really wanted all along, namely one witha salary working from home.

Several years ago, I found myself unhappily between engagements, as they say, and the recruitment agencies with which I registeredwere virtually all totally and uniformly useless. I gradually realised that the only way that I was going to finda suitable opportunity wasto sit at a telephone with the Yellow Pages in front of me and do the work myself,by which method I did eventually find theright opening.

In fact, if a recruitment agency had made those calls for me, I would never have found the opportunity that led eventually to me now having my own business, because the small firm that took me on to set up itsIFA division would almost certainly not have been willing to pay an agency several thousand pounds for little more than having putus in touch with each other – and that is about all that most of them do, isn’t it?

From the point of view ofa prospective employer,a candidate who has had the initiative to do their own job prospecting and will cost nothing in agency fees is likely to be considerably more attractive than onewho has simply delegatedall prospecting to a costly agency.

So why do IFAs, whetherwe are looking for a job or for the right person to fill a job, bother with recruitment agencies?

I just don’t see it.

Julian Stevens
Harvest IFM


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