Last month, we looked at what new planners are seeking from the culture of the organization they join. This month, we are going to review what they are looking for from a compensation and benefits perspective. See below for the most commonly cited components of what new planners are seeking from their employers that we have compiled from thousands of conversations with new planner job seekers over the last couple of years.
Compensation and Benefits
- Input on a career track - New planners love to be able to customize and carve their own career path out of a rough draft that has already been established. What they don't like so much is being constrained to a certain box or timeline because someone else in your firm did it that way. They want to know what objectives they have to hit before they can move up. It is also helpful in the recruitment process to be able to point to at least one person in your firm who has successfully worked their way up.
- Increasing responsibility - Find a way to keep them challenged and moving up. If you wait until you finally think someone is “ready” to be promoted, it is probably too late. We have so many experienced CFP professionals that call us to move them to a new firm because their current firm won't promote them. Sometimes the lack of promotion is warranted based on our conversations, but a lot of times it isn’t. However, you don't want to promote only out of fear of losing a solid team member either, but scheduling quarterly reviews to discuss workload, and performance and adjust responsibilities can aid in the decision-making process when the time comes.
- Opportunity for ownership - Still a differentiator at the moment. However, quickly becoming a table stake in the independent RIA channel. All the top candidates ask about it. It’s fine if you don't want to consider it, but you’ll also need to lower your expectations for the candidate you seek and expect to lose people to your competitors/colleagues who are offering this.
- Above average cash compensation - You can check out the Charles Schwab, Investment News and New Planner Recruiting salary surveys to get an idea of where you should be compensation-wise. The firms that have the mindset that they want to pay in the 75th quartile range and up are best positioned to attract top-tier caliber candidates. I think Dan Pink sums it up well when he states in his book Drive “pay enough to take compensation off the table.”
- Virtual or hybrid opportunity - This isn't as much a differentiator as it was prior to the CoronaVirus pandemic. What we are seeing is job seekers, especially those who are new to the profession, seek a role in their geographical location that has hybrid flexibility. Because the fun and friendly in-person culture components are still important to them and they know it is more difficult to learn the nuances of an apprenticeship model sitting behind Zoom for the majority of their learning. E.g. I live in Atlanta and I want a firm in Atlanta with a hybrid policy so I don't have to commute each day, and or I don't have to use my PTO to go to the doctor.
- Retirement - Most people are expecting some type of tax-deferred plan and many firms we work with provide a Safe Harbor 401k with a 4% match plus profit sharing. It is worth noting that several of the large financial services institutions that are competing with independent planning firms for talent are contributing ~10% of the employee’s salary + matching contributions. Unfortunately, there are still some small financial planning firms that don't provide anything in this area and it leaves job seekers scratching their heads and totally turned off by those opportunities.
- Health Care Coverage - Most firms have a group health plan and those that don’t pay a monthly stipend so the team member can purchase their own coverage. The large financial institutions continue to push the envelope though offering all sorts of perks and coverages from IVF treatments, adoption assistance, weight loss programs, mental health programs, child care assistance, pet insurance, etc. While all of these may seem silly to you, these are very popular and often requested by the next-generation planner and team member.
We realize some of these are not going to be popular, but do hope this helped because of the tight talent market. We urge you to consider making the necessary adjustments where needed in your presentation to both potential and current team members if you haven’t already. Also, keep in mind that some level of turnover is inevitable - you could be doing all of this perfectly and still have people leave to pursue other opportunities. Even with the current bear market, there are now enough firms with different business models that are insulated from substantial revenue drops, so the demand is still high for people and job seekers have an increasing number of options to choose from.