The challenge is not just about getting the right people, but keeping them interested
The success of advice firms has presented them with something of a dilemma. Many have grown their client banks significantly, which they now need to service and retain, while at the same time looking after the needs of new customers. And in the wake of greater pension freedoms, the demand for professional advice has never been stronger.
As business owners look to the future, who is going to continue to manage these relationships when they decide to hang up their boots?
The question is made all the more puzzling against a backdrop of a lack of quality candidates in the market.
Just recently, a report by KPMG highlighted a narrowing talent pool for UK financial services, with 65 per cent of people saying they would never consider a role in our industry.
This, combined with the significant investment of time and resources required by firms to bring new people on board and get them up to speed, means a properly planned recruitment and retention strategy is more important than ever.
So what steps should those firms that want to do something about it be taking? Well, the challenge is not just about getting the right people – be they advisers, paraplanners or administrators – but keeping them interested with sufficient career progression and opportunity.
Managers must be clear about the skills required in the business – and not just the skills for today but also those for tomorrow.
A lot of this comes down to having a real sense of purpose and clarity around your recruitment activity.
What are you trying to achieve? What activities will the new recruit be undertaking? This all requires careful thought and planning.
From the prospective candidate’s perspective, it is also important for them to understand the career path and strategy in place to move forward.
Helping people to grow takes time, money and effort, but investing in this brings loyalty in return. It is human nature for people to want to be part of a high-performing team but achieving this becomes easier if they can understand their role.
An element of creativity is also required to ensure people are not shoehorned into roles not right for them or the wider business. This means developing the individual as well as the role, which might require flexibility to understand the type of person you want to bring in and how they will complement the existing team.
It is all about creating roles that enable people to play to their strengths and add value today, while also giving them the room to develop and grow in the future.
Getting the balance right will help to deliver long-term staff continuity and retention.
Look for support
Throughout this process, it is important to remember there is support available. Firms do not need to take on the full burden of coaching and development themselves.
Outsourcing some of this activity can help, so take some time to work out what training and development support is on offer.
Taking this route might also turn out to be more cost-effective for an advice firm than developing something in-house.
Business owners can also benefit from the experience of like-minded people who are undertaking similar activities, so look out for opportunities to network and learn along the way.
Ultimately, the solution comes in attracting the right people that buy into what your business is trying to do – your leadership, mission and vision – who are keen to follow a career path to be successful.
Achieving this will give both the new recruit and yourself the best chance of long-term success.
Ross Liston is managing director of Bankhall and PMS