Last month, we explored what candidates were seeking in growth opportunities by looking at an excerpted dialogue exchange I have been having frequently with candidates recently (see http://bit.ly/GrwthOppPart1). This month we examine specific characteristics firm owners should be providing in their new planner positions to help ensure the new planner doesn’t have to leave the organization for the career growth they seek.
The most important distinction we see between the firms that effectively retain new planners and those who don’t is how they view the money they spend on staff. Paraphrasing a popular Mark Tibergien observation, “Most firms view their payroll expenses as a cost; the best firms look at that expenditure as an investment into an asset.” In reality, for many firms, their human capital is the biggest asset on their balance sheet, if they account for it properly. The firms that understand this are always seeking new ways to make sure their people are more than satisfied with their careers. They are continuously investing in them, for the benefit of both the employee and the firm. In turn, this helps to provide the necessary opportunities for their employees to become STARS. Here are some ways they do this:
Sophistication – If the new planner already meets with clients, this means providing the chance to work on increasingly complex client situations as an opportunity to improve their planning skills. If a new planner isn’t meeting with clients, provide an occasion for them to do so. Some of the larger firms provide opportunities for employees to rotate internally to gain experience in multiple areas of the firm’s operations. This cross training is beneficial for the firm and the employee because it assists with organizational staffing needs as well as career path clarity. Everyone’s personality and work style is different, but it is healthy to a certain degree for a new planner to be put in situations where they think, “I’m not ready for this.” Good managers know how to strike the right balance between setting employees up for repeated failure and pushing them out of their comfort zone to drive them towards personal growth.
Training – Training is crucial. In one recent scenario, one of our clients will, as part of the training process, fly their new hire to another firm half way across the country to spend a couple of weeks observing a comparable position to learn and bring ideas back to the firm. This is a powerful discussion point for the firm as it communicates with potential candidates about this position. The candidates immediately see the seriousness of the firm owner and the commitment to training.
Adaptability – In the tight knit financial planning profession, word spreads quickly when employees feel like a firm truly wants to see them succeed in their career and life. This is so rare, people tend to not leave these organizations and the current employees share how good they have it. These organizations often attract more talented people wanting to work for them. Asking an employee what is important to them is a great first step. A candidate we recently placed into a firm wanted to pursue a PhD to focus on financial therapy/life planning because that was important to him. He thought it could add value to the organization. He presented a proposal to the firm’s management which is considering fully funding the degree and will establish an accommodating work schedule to correspond with the class schedule. In turn, the planner feels more committed than ever to the firm, recognizing the investment the firm is making in him.
Responsibility and Rewards – Contrary to widely publicized Gen X & Gen Y criticisms about not being responsible and not wanting responsibility, my conversations lead me to conclusions that state otherwise. In fact, the new planners coming out of school, that have the awareness to know they need to learn a lot more prior to working with clients, place more emphasis on increased responsibility versus financial rewards. Earlier in my career, I was thrust in a situation where I basically had to run a company for few weeks. I wasn’t fully qualified to do so at that time but, my supervisor was out of pocket planning an important life event. Even though it was temporary, it was a substantial increase in responsibility. This motivated me to want to work even harder because I was entrusted with a high level of responsibility and reaffirmed the fact that I was not going to be held to some arbitrary growth timeline. My efforts and initiative made it possible for me to grow. Additionally, when the supervisor returned they acknowledged that they could not have “done it without me” and this was worth more to me than any salary/bonus I received. I knew I made a difference and was recognized for it.
AtmoSphere and Culture – A collegial and respectful atmosphere one in which new planners are uninhibited to share their ideas without fear of being discounted because they haven’t been around as long, is a large component to a growth opportunity. Firms that encourage thought leadership and actually mean it when they state the status quo should be challenged are best positioned. New planners that feel their ideas are heard and are even given the chance to explore those ideas, more often than not, describe these experiences as growth.
Consider focusing on these areas if you aren’t already to increase the likelihood your new planner will grow with you and not somebody else. If you think you are offering this kind of focus already, confirm it by asking your employees what you could do differently to ensure they have the best growth opportunities.
- Caleb was named the 2012 New Generation Influencer by Financial Planning Magazine http://bit.ly/CBFPMag
- Michael will be presenting to FPA of New Jersey on October 24th http://bit.ly/FPANJ
- Caleb will be giving the morning keynote speech at the University of Illinois Financial Planning day on October 5th. http://bit.ly/UnivILFPday
- New Planner Recruiting celebrates its third anniversary this month! Thanks to everyone who has placed their trust in us. We look forward to serving the profession for many more years to come.