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Seven tips for hiring the best candidates

In the wake of RDR, advisers have never been better qualified but hiring has never been more difficult

We are now just a few weeks into the new regulatory regime and already we are hearing of advisers going beyond the RDR’s requirements.

The Chartered Insurance Institute says that more than two-thirds of its members are not content to be FSA level four qualified and are seeking to attain Chartered status and many have already moved beyond this new base level.

The latest figures from the CII says that by 28 January 2013, a total of 3,471 people held the chartered qualification, representing a rise of 644 people year-on-year. This is the largest yearly rise in individual chartered qualifications since launch in 2005.

Thanks to the failure of high-profile networks and national firms, or because former sole traders could not continue running a profitable business post-RDR, there is a pool of highly qualified advisers out there.

In addition, there are many former bank advisers left in the cold by high-street names that cut their advisory arms ahead of the RDR deadline.

There is also stiff competition from up-and-coming young graduates of such training schools and apprentice schemes.

Given these factors, it would not be unreasonable to think that firms looking to hire to boost their services in this post-RDR world would have their pick of the finest.

Sadly, for some employers, nothing could be further from the truth. Many advisory firms who have been looking to hire have found the process difficult and time-consuming.

Hiring the right person is also about brand building. If candidates do not have the same values and vision as you, then the marriage may be short-lived or unhappy – or both.

However you decide to boost your staff numbers to achieve greater scale, the most important point is that you do not sacrifice what is good to get what you think is the best.

Sometimes the best candidate on paper may not be good for your firm in reality, and you will not succeed in your ambition to drive your business to greater things in this post RDR world.

There is a lot of talent out there – both at the top end of the qualifications market and at the most basic school leaver level. Whether you take one route or the other, or a mixture of both, the most important question should always be ‘how will this person fit into my business?’

Without a careful and considered decision, even the most RDR-compliant, chartered adviser could end up blocking your firm’s ultimate success.

So what can smaller firms do to make their own business attractive so they can hire the right person for the right job, at the right time? The Seven Laws of Attraction below sets out interview tips and highlights the mindset that an adviser firm should adopt when seeking to hire top candidates.

Seven laws of attraction

1) Know who you want

Think through the real requirements you have and what you want from a recruit, in terms of critical and preferred skills and abilities. What tasks will they do? How essential are qualifications? Could you consider hiring an apprentice and training them up through the ranks? Is there a certain ‘cultural fit’ – would a broker or consultant background suit your business model?

2) Know yourself

What is the business environment like? Would a potential candidate see that the meeting room reflects what you want to say about you and your business?

3) Prepare for the interview

It is not just candidates who need to prepare: employers should take time to scrutinise the CV and covering letter, drawing out key questions or concerns you may have ahead of the interview.

4) Selling to their ambitions

If the candidate has already caught your eye, it is up to you to woo him or her. So find out what they need so you can sell the role to their individual ambitions. For example, if they want career progression, talk to them about real-life examples of the staff member who started out, say, as a paraplanner and is now one of the senior advisers.

5) Sell your business with enthusiasm

What are your unique selling points? What are your successes, the visions and goals for the company? If you cannot articulate or be enthusiastic about these, it is unlikely the candidate will be enthused about the role.

6) Time kills deals

The longer you procrastinate over the first and second interviews and potential start dates, the higher the likelihood that a top candidate will be attracted and won by a competitor.

7) Think of it as a sales process

You know how to close a deal with a client; hiring a high calibre candidate uses the same skills. Check if there are any outstanding questions or issues, confirm the next steps and timetables. A recruitment decision is important for both parties, so take time to provide feedback.

Stephen Hagues is managing director of Retiring IFA

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