Each industry has its own lifeblood. In the pharmaceutical industry, it’s the drug pipeline. In real estate, it’s location. In recruiting, it’s finding new candidates, or sourcing.

Ask any bank program manager about their biggest concerns and invariably hiring advisors is at the top. And no wonder. Across all channels of the financial services industry, there is an acute shortage of advisors.

Over the past several years, pundits have speculated about the reasons for this shortage. Reasons cited include the 2008 financial crisis, an aging advisor workforce or the tarnished image of financial services, which has led to fewer new entrants. And the forecasts call for this shortage to continue.

Bank program managers need a strategy to find new talent so they can not only replace advisors who retire or leave for greener pastures, but also show growth in their programs.

This is where sourcing comes in. Over the years, I’ve spoken with hundreds of managers and just about every one of them tells a version of the same boastful idea: “Just let me sit down face-to-face with a qualified advisor and I can sell them on my program.” For some managers this may be true. For others, it’s wishful thinking.

KEYS TO SOURCING

Two decades of recruiting have taught me that there are four keys to sourcing. Program managers must have a strategy to develop leads within the program and the bank. In addition, they must have a strategy to source experienced FAs from all competitors. They need a compelling story to tell prospects. And lastly, they must be sourcing every hour of the day.

Banks have a number of possibilities to source candidates.

For starters, they can look inside their own walls. They can tap their existing FAs, who have friends and know FAs at other banks and broker-dealers. They also can implement “bounty referral programs” open to all employees within the bank. Indeed, many banks give as much as $1,000 if a referral leads to a hire. Managers can look to branch staff who may be looking for careers as FAs. Or retired employees also can be good sources for leads.

Sourcing is not just an inside job, though. There are dozens of ways to source candidates from outside the bank. The obvious way is to proactively solicit FAs from your competitors. But that can be tricky — no one wants a recruiting war on their hands. If a competitor’s FA reaches out to you, that’s fine. Otherwise, consider using a recruiting firm as an intermediary.

Many banks have had success sourcing FAs from regional broker-dealers and even some of the large national firms. But unless you’re willing to offer significant upfront money, it’s unlikely you’ll have much success with the wealth management programs at the big banks or wirehouses.

Try to build relationships with other branch, regional and program managers in your footprint.

They may get resumes that don’t work for them for various reasons or they might have to let a producer go. It’s well worth an occasional email or even a lunch to build and keep these lines open.

An open secret of many non-bank b-d’s is the success they’ve had with career changers. Many firms, rather than pay upfront money or have the high failure risk of hiring right out of college, instead have targeted successful professionals looking for a career change.

From real estate agents to car salespeople and teachers, many firms look for highly motivated and successful people who want to be advisors.

THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA

No one can overstate the effectiveness of the Internet and social networking to source candidates in every field.

Whether it’s LinkedIn or one of the niche boards, it’s imperative to build an online presence. This is a particularly effective way to source potential candidates as well as build a candidate database.

Referrals from product wholesalers may be another fruitful area for candidates. After all, wholesalers know their territory and know which advisors are great and which ones are mediocre.

Obviously, they have to be careful about helping a bank as opposed to helping an advisor leave their current bank. An unhappy FA will most likely leave anyway, but it’s important to treat any wholesaler’s referral with complete confidentiality.

TRACKING CANDIDATES

In order to coordinate all the communications and candidate tracking, it’s imperative to have good software.

Sometimes it can take years, but contacting a candidate at just the right time is often what it takes. Maybe they had a disagreement with their boss, or their compensation was cut. You never know when a candidate is going to be receptive to your overture. The only thing a program manager can do is stay in touch with as many FAs as possible for as long as possible. That’s why it’s imperative to keep detailed accurate records of who you contacted, when, what was discussed and what follow-up measures were taken.

When you finally get in front of a candidate, it’s important to have a well-defined pitch, a thought-out description of the key features and benefits of your program, why it’s a great place to work and why top FAs need to consider joining.

I always recommend that program managers have a simple but professional-looking recruiting brochure. It’s a great low-cost tool that everyone can use—from tellers to senior management—to reply to outside inquiries.

I’m frequently asked if there are any secrets or tricks to getting more qualified FAs in front of program managers. My usually response is, “Sure. Just offer an upfront $100,000 cash signing bonus.”

And while this would work, in the real world it’s not going to happen. Unfortunately, in today’s highly competitive market, there are no shortcuts. Make the calls. Send the emails. Do the posts. Communicate. Build relationships. And perhaps, most important, be open-minded and flexible.

The résumé may not be exactly what you thought you wanted, but the person might be perfect for your program.

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