Leadership Perspectives | 10.23.19
Hiring and Retaining Motivated Financial Advisors: Part 4
This is Part 4 of a four-part series.
In order to grow and stay vibrant, bank investment programs constantly need to look for new financial advisors. Whether it’s replacing experienced branch-based financial advisors, expanding so-called “second-story” offices, or building a junior advisory program, managers need to search for financial advisors. Given the strong demand for experienced financial advisors in all sectors of the industry, managers are keen of their vulnerability to loosing experienced, successful financial advisors to the competition. There’s no doubt that bank programs have a major advantage over other channels – access to talented, albeit, inexperienced platform personnel who can be very motivated to become financial advisors. But whether it’s promoting from within or searching competitors in other bank programs, program managers still need to understand the dynamics of motivation to be sure they are onboarding truly motivated people. After all, there are several thousand members of the Screen Actors Guild who can probably they can fool experienced program managers!
So, how can you tell if someone is motivated? Unfortunately, you can’t with 100% certainty. However, there are questions you can ask, answers to look for and behaviors you can spot to help you make an educated decision.
When conducting interviews of potential financial advisors, naturally every project manager will ask about production, new business development activities, referral strategies, product mix, etc. While numbers are certainly important, what is really important are the behaviors and attitudes underlying the numbers. In Part 2 of this series on motivation, I pointed out that motivated, successful financial advisors typically have a well-thought-out, detailed plan for their business. Project managers should simply ask every candidate, regardless of experience or the strength of his or her resume, “Please tell me about your plan for growing your business and adding value to our program.” Look for details, not generalities. Strong candidates also tend to have strong time management skills. They don’t waste time with too much chitchat and don’t let everyday distractions get in the way of doing what needs to be done to build their business, communicate with clients and stay abreast of product and market developments.
Invariably, every candidate will be asked why they want to leave where they are, or for a candidate with no prior financial advisor experience, “Why do you want to be here?” Motivated candidates will use positive, proactive phrases in their answers like “professional growth,” “helping more people reach their financial goals,” “work in an environment where I can reach my full potential,” or “get the support and tools I need to help my clients.” While every financial advisor (and really, every professional) wants to be paid their worth, project managers should avoid financial advisors that put undue emphasis on compensation and monetary rewards. Yes, money is an important motivator, but sooner or later, some competitor will offer the financial advisor higher compensation, and they’ll quickly jump ship if all they care about is money. Regardless of a financial advisor’s experience, or lack thereof, motivated financial advisors are focused on their goals, professional growth and helping their clients achieve their investing goals.
When you think about it, a manager has very little hard data when considering a candidate. Like a prospectus, “prior performance is no guarantee of future performance. Resumes can be professionally produced, and references can be untruthful for a variety of reasons. Production runs can help evaluate the numbers and products, but they don’t provide an explanation as to “who the candidate is.” In one or two interviews, it’s critical to determine if a candidate will be a good fit with the existing team (both other financial advisors and staff). Is the candidate a person who you can work with, manage and respect? These are important questions that must be answered, and there are questions that can be asked and attitudes evaluated to help mangers “see inside” the candidate. There are assessment tools that claim to measure everything from motivation, to sales ability, to communications skills, to leadership ability. Some of these are very good tools that can help a manger evaluate a candidate better. However, all of these tools should be used to support or confirm your own assessment as to ability, motivation and fit within the organization.
Once on board, it becomes a manager’s top priority to keep that financial advisor happy and focused. Without question, the No. 1 reason financial advisors leave a program is because of a toxic relationship with their boss. Research has constantly shown that the best way to maintain a positive relationship with financial advisors is to:
- Communicate often, honestly and positively
- Show respect for the financial advisors, their business and professionalism
- Build a solid foundation of rapport. Show genuine interest in who they are, their family, etc. Rapport is the most important factor in keeping top people happy with their manager.
Clearly, there’s not much a manager can do if an financial advisor needs to relocate or they truly get an offer they can’t refuse. Some turnover is out of a manager’s control, but engaging in free and open communication and building solid rapport with financial advisors will help minimize unwanted departures and work to build a cohesive team of professionals.
For more on this series on motivation by Paul Werlin, check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.