ELITE ADVISOR BEST PRACTICES
Maximize Your Human Capital
The people you surround yourself with can make all the difference
By John Bowen, founder and CEO of CEG Worldwide
- You must create systems to find, get and keep great staff.
- Hiring potential new staffers initially as consultants will tell you if they are a good fit.
- Regular status reports and staff meetings help keep your team focused.
- The right compensation, recognition and rewards systems will motivate staff to bring more value to the business.
Want to build a truly elite business? You’ll need the help of qualified, motivated people. To maximize your human capital fully, you’ll need to create systems that address the key areas of finding, recruiting and keeping great people.
Start with a hiring system. Finding qualified staff is an ongoing challenge for many financial advisors. Instead of running “help wanted” ads—which are the least effective filters available—use the following hiring process to identify individuals suitable for your team:
- Write a job description. Define the detailed description of the job and the type of person you would prefer in the position.
- Identify likely companies. Identify the most likely places where such a person would be working in a similar job.
- Identify candidates. Hire a search firm to identify specific candidates from these companies as well as from its other sources. The search firm should provide you with the résumés of the most qualified candidates.
- Interview the individuals. Contact these individuals, describe the job and conduct brief telephone interviews. Then conduct in-person interviews with those you feel are the best fit.
- Hire as consultant. Candidates need to have something at risk and something to gain—and you want to be able to see how they work under pressure. So hire the most likely candidate as a consultant tasked with drawing up a proposal of how they are going to add the most value to your organization over the next 12 months. Give the person two weeks to interview the team members with whom they are going to be working and to meet with a few of your clients. Then they should prepare a presentation for the team.
- Evaluate the candidate. You and your team should evaluate the candidate, which creates a sense that everyone is involved in the hiring. If each team member feels personally responsible for bringing a certain person in, everyone is more likely to do everything possible to help that new person succeed.
- Decide to hire. Make the decision to hire the candidate as a result of your evaluation.
Another key area to systematize is communication. To keep team members focused, committed and working together with passion, create a communication process centered on two key components:
- Weekly status reports. Create a status report that identifies the responsible players, the mission, the six-month goals and what the firm will be accountable for. List all specific action items that are in process, report on the status of each item, record any major accomplishments of the week, report any new issues that have come up and detail what was learned during the week.
- Weekly staff meetings. Have a formal manager and supervisor/team leader meeting each week. The goal of the meeting is to arm the management team with information necessary to achieve your business plan. Every meeting should end with a review of the action items. Read these out loud to ensure agreement. Summarize the meeting, gain closure and set the agenda for the next meeting. A key assignment for each staff member here is to ensure that the critical information from this meeting is communicated to all contributors in the firm so that everyone is always on the same page.
A third system focusing on compensation should also be addressed. Compensation must not only keep up with what is offered in the marketplace, but should also increase as a person brings more value to the business. Ideally, compensation is a win-win situation for both the company and the employees. Your goal should be to redesign your employee contract effectively to read, “If we’re successful, you’re successful.” So instead of merely paying employees for tenure, pay for performance, skills, productivity, knowledge and contribution. Your compensation system should also have an evaluation component, including a written performance plan that describes what is expected and the goals to be achieved. It is essential to break down the desired outcomes into metrics that are specific, measurable and directly related to the job performance of each employee.
Finally, institute a recognition and rewards system. Recognition (gifts, merchandise, travel, training in exotic locales, etc.) and rewards (bonuses, awards, perks, etc.) can reinforce important attitudes and behaviors that contribute to a firm’s success. Such rewards work best if they are a surprise, if they’re personalized and given in a public forum, if they’re timely and given in recognition of a specific behavior, and if they’re given frequently but in small numbers.
The upshot: By systematizing these aspects of your business, you will put yourself in the best position to find and lead a great team of people who are willing and able to help you build a world-class practice.