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Test your people power

As businesses streamline operations to prepare for RDR, it is vitally important that they have the right people in the right jobs. Taxbriefs can test a firm’s processes and show you where you are going wrong

David Shelton, Author The Business of Advice Published by TaxBriefs
David Shelton, Author The Business of Advice Published by TaxBriefs

A large number of business problems arise from the lack of clear “people policies and processes”. This aim of this article is straightforward – to help recruit, retain and develop people who are effective in their jobs, receptive to change and committed to your business. This is a tall order because people are different from other business assets. They are unpredictable, prone to leave you for a competitor and often have commitments that dilute their loyalty to you and sometimes their ability to do the job.

Answer the following questions to review the effectiveness of your people management (1 = poor and 10 = brilliant).To what extent:

  • Do you have an up-to-date set of descriptions for all jobs?
  • Do people know what they are accountable for?
  • Do you set clear objectives when you review performance?
  • Does your performance review process run regularly (for example, formal meetings at least once a year)?
  • Has each member of staff got a personal training and development plan?
  • Do you have a good track record in recruiting people?
  • Are your disciplinary processes clear and effective?
  • Is your remuneration structure up to date, clear and carries no anomalies?
  • Do staff complement you on internal communications?
  • Are all your people really motivated and working as a team?

This is quite difficult to benchmark because there is wide variation between advice businesses. Less than 20 per cent of advice businesses would achieve 80 per cent or above here. Most would be around 50 per cent but with a different mix of responses.

The direction and scale of your business and the target clients will help decide your people plan

Quite often, businesses have the processes in place but do not use them. As a result, good practice falls into disrepute, with each situation being dealt with on an ad hoc basis instead of using a consistently applied policy.

You have to avoid an inconsistent and firefighting approach, even if you cannot justify a full-time personnel specialist. One of the principals
must be accountable for effective people management, using external specialists where necessary.

The benefits
The benefits of having well defined people processes are:

  • People know what is expected of them and how they are performing
  • Setting pay scales, salary increases and bonuses can be undertaken against objective and clear criteria
  • Recruitment can be undertaken with a good degree of objectivity Development and training can be linked to business needs as well as individual career development
  • Managing people becomes a professional task as opposed to an emotional challenge
  • The direction and scale of your business and the target clients will help decide your people plan. If you think about the following, you will be able to work out what type of people you need and how many of them.
  • What are the main needs of your target market?
  • What is the service proposition?
  • How will the client bank change over the next three to five years?
  • How many clients can be supported by an adviser?
  • How many advisers and which knowledge mix will be required?
  • What type of support roles will be needed and in what number?
  • What additional roles will be needed (for example, specialist managers) Processes

You have to operate clear processes to help get the best out of people and minimise the risk to your business if things go wrong.

The key people processes that help with this are:

  • Job descriptions: clear objectives and responsibilities for each job
  • Performance management: managing performance against the job description, developing people and rewarding them
  • Reward structure: ensuring that the way you reward people creates the outcomes and behaviours that are right for your business
  • Recruitment: recruiting against the job description and well defined selection criteria.
  • Communications and change management: avoiding the vacuum of silence and working with people to make changes happen and help the business to develop.

The job description is the centre of the process. It provides the basis for all the people-related activities that follow under:

  • Recruitment and selection
  • Retention and development Without a clear job description, none of the other activities can be undertaken properly, which means the business will find it difficult to recruit, retain and effectively manage the performance of people.

As businesses streamline operations to prepare for RDR, the need to ensure you have the right people in the right jobs, well paid and well motivated is very important. At the very least, you will save time and money in the recruitment market. At best, you will secure important gains in productivity and commitment.

The Business of Advice covers all these processes in detail, with a range of templates, job descriptions and checklists to ensure that nothing is missed


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