The Expert, Simon Olive
Searching for the right calibre recruits is one thing but businesses must first ensure that they have the capability to develop their potential and capitalise on it.Despite current educational initiatives to enhance and certify the calibre and capability of advisers, my experience suggests the number of high-calibre active advisers is decreasing while their average age increases. To firms with a strategy that requires growth in distributive capacity, this demographic Molotov cocktail presents a real threat. Introducing a graduate entry scheme is one way to repopulate and rejuvenate the adviser pool but serious issues need to be addressed to create conditions for the sustained success of such a strategy. Businesses must have the right business model and proposition to attract the right people and support their development. There are a number of things that business owners need to do if they are to recruit the right people and instil confidence in them that they can succeed. A clearly defined way of doing things and streamlined processes that the new adviser can understand is an important starting point. There are also the basic considerations such as a salary and benefits package commensurate with their experience and track record, clearly defined benchmarks to enable them to see how they can improve their package and a realistic development programme designed to run for months or even a couple of years. Providing a day-to-day mentor to manage and coach them can bring benefits both to the new recruit and to the person doing the mentoring. Finally, a big enough good-quality client base that they will be expected to advise once qualified will show a good recruit that the prospects are positive. An inexperienced person will not, as a rule, generate industry-leading revenues quickly. However, it is not unrealistic for them to provide support that helps to improve the productivity of others. This provides an opportunity to acquire insight into the skills and habits essential for the modern adviser. New recruits can add value to a business quickly through ways other than advising clients by helping an existing adviser become more productive. They could, for example, be supervised to conduct a client bank segmentation exercise and implement a client bank management system. This should significantly improve productivity for advisers and can identify clients suitable for the new recruit to deal with once qualified. Having learnt skills and habits by observing an adviser appointment, new recruits can also undertake follow-up activity on that adviser’s behalf. This might mean completing the application/paperwork, enabling the adviser to move on to another appointment and hold more meetings. Undertaking market research and other marketing exercises is another area where new recruits can add value. They can set up and organise campaigns and events. This will help them understand how the business adds value and how campaigns need to be planned, monitored and reviewed. Big corporate entities often place graduate recruits on a rotation programme, during which recruits spend time in various jobs before settling into their career role. These days, I do not think many businesses experience problems finding clients to see. In the main, they struggle to see the right clients at the right time. A new recruit engaged in the kind of roles outlined will become very familiar with the client base, get to know it better, start to meet clients with existing advisers whose client base is too big to manage and start to take some on themselves at the end of the process. The growth of high-quality financial advisers depends, among other things, upon formalising or “systemising” business practices and running a comprehensive and relevant development programme. It also requires the time, attention and focus of mentors/coaches able to instil company practices, standards and ambition into the new breed of adviser. Identifying people with the attributes, appetite and ambition to make the most of the opportunities and rewards your firm can provide is, of course, the other side of the equation.
Simon Olive is a senior business consultant at Axa