Recruiting top talent is especially challenging right now. The last three consecutive quarters are as tough a talent market as I have seen in my 20 years in the profession. As an already tight, pre-Covid, talent pool is being squeezed even further by firms who put their hires on hold last year are now scrambling to make their 2020 and 2021 hires this year.
Due to this surge of hiring, demand for talent has doubled, and talent supply has mostly stayed the same, further driving up prices, extending time to fill, and overall causing a lot of headaches for firm owners who are trying to find the right people so they can grow.
Here are three mistakes we see firm owners making right now, and ways to avoid them:
- Timing - Traditionally, it has taken a few months to hire a new financial planner. However, it is not uncommon for firms to contact us after having been searching for six months to a year. So even if the most conservative projections show you need another professional within the next year... you need to start now. Furthermore, when you do finally attract candidates to review, ensure you are as timely as possible for reaching out and scheduling interviews. You still need to follow your process, but want to avoid significant delays. Think delicately balancing the old adages of ‘slow to hire’ with ‘strike while the iron is hot’.
- Commitment - People are one of the largest investments and drivers of growth in your firm, so make sure you are providing any hiring projects with the attention they deserve. Switching vital projects such as hiring from the front to back burner constantly, due to other important matters/fires that need to be addressed, will not produce the result you are seeking. Commit to going through your process and making the best hire you are able to with the talent pool that is available to you at that time. Because again, the longer the process draws out, the less likely you are to make the right hire. Keep in mind, too, if you overwork people too long, you are likely going to have to make more hires than you planned on anyways (as they’ll be at risk to leave or be recruited away by another firm with better hours!), only exacerbating the problem.
- Rigidity - There are no unicorn candidates. There haven't been and there will never be. There will always be something that may not align perfectly with anyone you seek to hire. Hiring a CFP certificant may have been the minimum standard in the past, but you might have to consider someone who only passed the CFP exam instead, and is still working towards the experience requirement. Plus you might have to pay the Candidate for CFP certification what you had budgeted for the full CFP certificant.
Here are some examples of candidates that firms initially passed over, but ultimately ended up being a good fit after revisiting what characteristics were most important (names have been appropriately changed/anonymized):
- John - Hiring firm initially sought a CFP with 3-5 years of experience for client facing support role. Hired a CFA with 13 years of banking/investment management experience. Began meeting with clients immediately.
- Terry - Hiring firm initially sought a CFP with 2-3 years of experience for client facing support role. Hired a CFP with 20 years of financial services experience for a non client facing paraplanner role. Took plan prep and follow up burden off client facing professionals, and was under budget.
- Alice - Hiring firm initially sought a CFP with 2-5 years for a client facing support role. Hired a property and casualty agency owner pursuing the CFP, and transitioning to financial planning. Stepped into a second chair role immediately, increasing Lead Advisor’s capacity.
- Melissa - Hiring firm initially sought a CFP with 2-3 years of experience for a client facing support role. Hired a new college graduate who had completed two internships, passed the series 65 and CFP exams. Freed up Associate Planner’s time so they could shift to more advisory functions now that basic planning, client service items were being handled by new hire.
If you are able to find someone who checks most of the boxes, consider moving quickly on that person or at least be prepared to extend your search. Remember, candidates that check all of the boxes (unicorns) don't really exist and if they do, they such strong candidates they aren’t on the market long and/or aren't typically looking for a job in the first place! Additionally, because candidates are being hired so quickly, waiting after an initial batch of candidates to attract more/better ones rarely works… the next batch isn’t necessarily better, and initial candidates are likely to be no longer available.
Feel free to reach out to us here if you are hiring, know that it is not the best use of your time, and want to delegate to professionals and leverage our expertise and national network.