There's been a lot of ink spilled of late about recruiting in our industry. In a nutshell, it's getting harder to find talented people.
There are many reasons: older advisors are looking to retire; the crash of 2008 and the difficult markets of the past few years have kept new potential advisors out of the business; brokerage firms and banks, feeling the sting of the crash, have slashed budgets for hiring and training new advisors; and many firms have made it more difficult contractually for FAs to leave.
In response, many firms have raised the stakes for talent, increasing upfront money to 150%+ of trailing-12 (albeit with milestones that new hires must achieve to get all the money).
Granted, there is some proactive search happening in the channel, but many banks are still relying primarily on the "prayer method." That is, hoping someone good will walk in and see the value of their program.
What's especially puzzling is that banks are ignoring a potential advantage they have when it comes time to staff up: the ability to develop and promote from the platform.
Whether using a structured development program, or just recognizing talent and drive, promoting from this "farm system" could be a major plus.
However, just having a pool to draw from isn't enough. And that's where the real problem lies. Banks both big and small have not invested nearly enough in developing a comprehensive plan including drawing from their own talented professionals.
It takes both time and money to identify potential, train, educate, develop and ultimately retain the next generation of FAs. While some banks have invested in their future people, most have chosen the short-term fix and like so many others are chasing fewer and fewer prospects.
I'm not suggesting that banks stop looking for experienced FAs from competitors. But given the competition, the demographics and the shrinking supply, focusing only on experienced FAs and not investing in developing their own talent is a losing proposition.
But that's just part of the answer. In addition to time and money, banks and TPMs need overarching and well-defined plans. What will these plans look like? (Hint: They won't be, Hey an FA just left, lets find someone new.)
A solid plan will have defined recruiting goals, objectives and detailed tactics; from targeting specific competitors in their footprints to the level of experience and assets-under-management that best fits with their existing program and culture.
And money matters. It takes money to recruit talented people. The costs included in a comprehensive plan might include the following: the expense of posting on job boards; the use of outside recruiters; in-house bounties for referrals; relocation expenses for a top candidate; and hiring dedicated in-house recruiters. And, while the platform is a great pool to draw from, there are still training and educational costs just to name a few.
As a rule of thumb, a bank should be spending in the vicinity of 10% to 15% of net annually on recruiting. It's amazing to me that everyone agrees that their FAs are their most important asset, but aren't willing to spend the time or money to make sure they have the best team possible.
Bottom line: Yes, it's tough out there. And my guess is it will only get tougher. But instead or complaining and handwringing, put a plan together, manage the plan every single day, and spend some money to make it happen and do it right.
You get out of it exactly what you put into it.
Paul werlin is president of Human Capital Resources Inc.