The 5 W's of Hiring! What Would Arlene Say?

7 min read
August 17, 2017

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Is it Time to Hire?

When you started out it was probably just you and the dream of running your own financial planning business – right? Even though you’ve worked hard to get where you are now, things were simpler back then. Now, you might be thinking it’s time to expand your practice and hire someone new. This is an exciting prospect, but it’s also a bit tricky. It’s also emotional. Your practice is your baby, and you’ve poured a lot of sweat, blood, and tears into it to get where you are today.

Nobody would want to bring in the wrong team member and have all that work get erased. If we’re being honest with ourselves, there’s probably a fear of the opposite situation as well. You might bring in the exact right team member. But that means you’re about to change the way you work, grow your practice, and possibly take things in another direction. That can be intimidating, too! Regardless of how daunting taking the leap is – at some point you may have to make the jump.

When I talk to advisors who are looking to take this big step they usually have a lot of similar questions: When should I hire someone new? Who is the right person? And where in the world do I find them? These are all valid things to concern yourself with. I like to break it down into the 5 W’s – the who, what, where, when, and why of hiring.  

Who to Hire?

There’s a lot that goes into this question, but it boils down to this: you need to hire someone you’re comfortable working with. I think a large part of that comfortability will come with working with someone who has the same financial planning philosophy that you do. If your base beliefs are similar, any differences you may have beyond that are probably going to be reconcilable. As far as the actual person you’re looking to hire, there are a few other things you should look for.

  • Consider hiring someone who has a different niche than you do. This could dramatically increase your client base and help you to expand into other, similar niches, as well. For you, this might mean hiring someone who works with a specific industry (doctors, engineers, etc.). It might also mean hiring someone who works with a different age group than you do. If you want to build in more of a focus on the Gen X/Millennial crowd, find someone who specializes in their financial pain points.
  • Hire a planner who isn’t exactly like you. A mini-me can be helpful in some situations (like succession planning), but you want someone who rounds out your practice – both in their skillset and personality. Kolbe and Strengthfinder assessments can give you some insight into how your new team member will fit in.
  • Find someone who wants to be part of what you’re building. This is easily the most important quality to look for when hiring a new planner. You’re passionate about your business, they need to be, too!

What Position to Hire For?

You are most certainly not obligated to hire someone as a partner or co-owner of your financial planning practice. Most planners start by hiring an associate. The path to partner can be determined later. You may wish to start with an intern whose role could develop into a full-time associate or partner with time. Often having someone start as a part-time associate or an intern can be helpful when navigating the bumpy onboarding process simply because you have the extra time to introduce them to your practice and line up your visions and goals. However, there’s also nothing wrong with hiring a full-time partner or associate right off the bat. You have to evaluate what’s best for you at this time, and what your long-term goals are as far as becoming an ensemble practice or creating a succession plan.

You also need to evaluate whether or not you actually need another planner on board. You may be feeling the pressure of an expanding client base, but instead of hiring an associate or partner you might need someone to take other work off your plate. Outsourcing labor that takes away from the time you spend planning is money well spent. If you haven’t outsourced your accounting, marketing initiatives, or admin tasks yet – I suggest you start there. You’ll be amazed at just how much time removing a few business-related tasks from your to do list can free up.

Where Do You Find Someone to Hire?

There are so many resources available to you when it comes to hiring. I’d start with the FPA job board. It’s a good spot to post what you’re looking for in an environment where people will care and respond to your posting. I’d also suggest looking at various Facebook or LinkedIn groups that are geared toward advisors. You can either go the direct route and post the position you’re looking to fill or, alternatively, you can ask for advice. Plenty of other advisors have been in your same spot and would gladly point you in the right direction! Heck, they may even have a stellar recommendation for a new hire or a place to find potential new hires that you hadn’t even heard of before!

I’d also consider looking at New Planner Recruiting or the Employment and Internship Opportunities board with NAPFA. Both are excellent resources for finding new members to add to your team!

When Should You Think About Hiring?

The short answer to this is: hire before you’re in the weeds. If you wait until it’s too late and you need a partner or associate planner on staff right now then you’re less likely to find the perfect fit. Make it part of your business planning and assessment to regularly take a pulse check. When do you think you’ll expand to the point of needing an extra set of hands? When would you like to be at that point? Start playing with the idea of hiring in advance to ensure that you always have the amount of support you need at the right time. This won’t only make your life infinitely easier, it will also ensure a seamless experience for your clients.

Why Do You Need to Hire?

This is a tough question, and it’s going to be different for every advisor who is thinking about hiring. In some cases, you might need to bring in a partner to divide up the costs of running your financial planning practice. Running a business is expensive, and expanding a business can be expensive as well. Having another planner on your team who can help to share the burden can be incredibly useful.

Another reason you might be looking to hire, which we touched on briefly above, is the desire to change your niche or reach a new audience. Hiring a planner who works with different people than you do can have a hugely positive impact on bringing in more revenue. Similarly, you might need to hire if you’re looking to dive into an area of financial planning that you don’t love. If you’re all about retirement planning but hate student loans, hiring someone who can help you expand the services you offer (and succeed at) is a big, “Yes!”

You may be interested in hiring a planner if you want to set up a succession plan. This topic has already been beaten to death, and there is a lot of great content out there to help guide you. However, I’ll just say it once: there are benefits to having other advisors on staff with you who you can trust to take over your practice eventually. You want to make sure that your clients are well taken care of – even after you decide you want to retire early and spend every winter on a Greek island. Hiring someone now can help you cross that bridge down the line.

Finally, there’s no shame in admitting that being a full-time business owner gets lonely. Having an in-house colleague to bounce ideas off and to share the burden of both being in and working on your business can be a lifesaver. There’s something nice about working with a team – and some people prefer to not fly solo. I’ve done both. I’ve worked by myself in my own coaching business, and I recently transitioned to work as Kimberlite Coaching powered by XY Planning Network. And I can honestly say I prefer working with a team of likeminded professionals. If you prefer to work with colleagues in a team setting, admitting that early on and hunting for the right team member is a great reason to hire.

Hiring can be a scary process, and you might feel like a ball of emotions while going through the process. But if you start looking early, and keep your big-picture reasoning in mind, you’re sure to find the right person to grow your team and improve your practice. Regardless of who you end up hiring or why, you’ll definitely be pleasantly surprised at the positive differences you see as a result of taking this big step!

Moss16-0347.jpgAbout Arlene Moss, Executive Coach

Arlene gets a kick out of helping financial advisors get over being overwhelmed and take on their frustrations so their businesses soar. Arlene works to ensure XYPN members are able to help their clients prosper while creating a sustainable business model. Through XYPN Academy and one-on-one coaching, members get the support they need to grow their businesses and overcome the challenges that come their way.




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