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CISI financial planning boss: How to find the right person for the job

When it comes to employing people, it can be difficult to find the right candidate every time. While someone may well look like a good fit for a company at first sight, as the months go by, it could turn out to be a different matter entirely.

That said, there are many things we can do to improve the chances of a hire being successful.

Before you even think of starting the recruitment process with an agent, it is useful to list out all the tasks the person being replaced does. Then decide whether to put those tasks on the list for the potential new employee to do or whether they are more appropriate for others in your team. It is vital to have a coherent process of who must do what.

For the interviews, consider inviting some strategically important staff along who might be working with the new employee. This is especially important if you have a small team already.

There are some specific questions you can put to your interviewees that are a little out of the ordinary but which should help you understand your potential employee’s fit within your firm. If they are being considered for a client facing role, for example, you might ask them to give an example of the last time they put the interests of others ahead of their own and why. These questions can be changed for different job functions.

Another thing to consider is the length of the new recruit’s probationary period. Many planners are moving from three to six months, as they feel that longer timeframe gives the team a clearer indication of the value the new employee will bring.

Despite doing all this, you may still find you have the wrong person for the job, and you may want to consider taking steps to dismiss them. If they are inside the probationary period you can just give them notice without reason. However, for permanent staff, there are several things to consider.

The most important thing is to have a legal consultant you can call on for advice to ensure you progress matters in the proper way. You need to prepare a performance improvement plan for your employee. This generally lasts one month and makes them fully aware of the areas they need to improve on to meet the minimum standards required by your company. If, after this, things have not improved significantly, the first written warning can be given. This process is then repeated two more times, leading to a second written warning and then the eventual dismissal.

As the process takes time to resolve, it can be an emotionally difficult period for all employees. As an alternative, you could consider a compromise agreement. This is where both parties agree, sign a contract and, subject to specific conditions, make a payment in lieu of notice to leave employment immediately without potential for a future unfair dismissal claim.

That said, in a small financial planning firm this can be inequitable to staff who remain and continue to work hard and participate in future profits of the company. So, there are significant moral implications to consider.

Jacqueline Lockie is head of financial planning at the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment

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