Tips for Hiring the Right Support Staff for Your Financial Advisor Practice

02.15.2018

Behind every successful financial advisor—and any profitable firm—is an efficient and dynamic support staff. Whether you are hiring administrative support or marketing/sales staff, it is important to your business, and to your clients, to hire the right people.

Beyond finding people who have the skills, knowledge, and expertise to handle the job’s key responsibilities, you want to make sure your next hire is dependable, trustworthy, detail-oriented, and self-motivated.

Since your support staff members are quite often the first in line to interact with your clients, it is imperative they follow the highest standards of professionalism and ethical behavior. A positive attitude and a willingness to be flexible are also essential. 

So how do you find support staff that will be an ideal fit for your practice? Follow these tips:

  1. Think it through. Before you begin your search, define the key responsibilities for this position. What role will your new hire play on your team? How will this person help you achieve your business goals? Do you need someone with marketing or social media experience? What about someone who is well versed in hosting client appreciation events? Do you want your new hire to streamline your book of business and prioritize your clients? Know what you want and then create the job description.
  1. Determine the level of experience. Do you want someone who is licensed or who will obtain a license in the future? Do you want a seasoned professional or someone new to the field that you can mold? There are pros and cons to each, so be clear before you place that ad.
  1. Know thyself. What is your management style? Are you a micromanager or do you delegate well? Be honest about who you are and how you manage. Look for someone who has strengths in areas you might be weak in. For example, if you’re good at building client relationships but aren’t detail oriented, hire support staff that excel in back office paperwork and organizational processes.
  1. Have a resource for pay structure. If you want to attract the right candidate you will need a competitive compensation package, especially if you are looking to persuade a qualified and experienced person to leave their existing firm. Take the time to research compensation packages for related jobs in your area. Define the work schedule, including whether or not you will offer sick days and paid time off. Also consider whether or not the position will require travel or “after hours.” What sort of training will be provided? Remember: Excellent support staff will help you free up your time to focus on new and existing client relationships and growing your business.
  1. Review their background—first. Do not wait until you are sitting across from a potential candidate to review their background. Thoroughly read their résumés and any accompanying materials, such as cover letters and applications. But remember: A résumé only tells part of the story. Check social media for any red flags.
  1. Formulate great questions. Spend some time in advance of the interview creating a mix of questions—from open-ended inquiries to some that are more specific. Have a standard list of questions to ask each interviewee, but also make notes on each candidate’s résumé on specific items you want to inquire about.
  1. Listen carefully. Do not ask questions that are expected, such as “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Instead ask, “What would be your response if a client calls and is angry?” Or, “What ideas do you have to generate referrals?” This will tell you if the candidate is serious about the job.
  1. Give yourself time. Finding great talent in the financial services sector can’t be rushed. Even though your desire is to hire a candidate quickly, do not hire in haste. Patience truly is a virtue—especially when it comes to waiting for the perfect-fit employee. If you have interviewed several applicants and none seem to fit the bill, revisit your job listing and be willing to start the hiring process over. Be sure to interview your preferred candidate more than once. Having two or more interviews will help you evaluate consistency so you can feel confident about your hiring decision.
  1. Trust your gut. On paper, a candidate might appear to be ideal for the job, but may not fit into your corporate culture. Be certain the candidate exudes the professionalism you expect. An individual may have great experience processing paperwork, but lack the communication skills necessary to be successful in the position. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask the candidate back for a second interview to address any concerns. After an interview if something does not feel quite right, go with your instincts.

Berthel Fisher can provide you with guidance on this and many other practice management solutions. We make it our mission to help our advisors deliver positive client experiences. From our investment products and advisory services to our back office support and top of the line financial planning tools, we are continuously investing in every advisor on our team. If you are interested in joining Berthel Fisher, get started today or give us a call at 1-800-356-5234. 

By Paige Swartzendruber

Paige Swartzendruber joined in 2007 and serves as Vice President of Berthel Fisher & Company and its subsidiaries and Executive Vice President of BFC Insurance, Inc. She holds FINRA securities licenses 7, 63 and 65. She also holds a life and fixed annuity insurance license. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Certificate in International Business from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa.