Ask anyone responsible for recruiting, hiring and managing people and they’ll tell you we’re definitely living in interesting times. As an industry, wealth management is facing a shortage of key talent, despite being a lucrative field that is growing and has all the aspects of being a great place to work – excellent pay, good benefits, flexibility And the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. As a result of shortage of skilled candidates many consulting firms have found that attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent is becoming a top management issue.
According to a recent survey by Schwab and TD Ameritrade, more than 37% of consultants say finding talent is a top concern as firms grow. To support this growth, consulting firms are looking to add new back-office and advisory staff to be able to support their high-touch service model; However, they are finding it difficult to do so and are potentially missing out on opportunities for growth and profitability as a result.
What can firms do? In my experience as an HR executive for Mercer Advisors with over 700 employees, we’re seeing the following strategies and tips help — not only to find and hire great talent, but, and perhaps even more. Importantly, to retain its top performers.
When recruiting talent, it is important to know and understand your competition and how you differentiate your firm. This is important because leading candidates now have more options than ever before, as it seems that everyone is recruiting not only for skilled positions in money management, but also in the wider professional services industry. Being able to elegantly articulate your differences will be key to persuading candidates to join your firm versus the shop down the road (or willing to let you work virtually). Along these lines, beyond compensation, being able to explain the key factors, culture and opportunities that make your company a great place to work will go a long way in closing the deal. People want to develop their career in a way that does not necessarily involve money.
As a result of this increasing competition for talent, firms need to expand their reach to find the right people for jobs. Particularly in this remote-work environment, perhaps the best candidate may not be local, but may be an effective contributor to distance through today’s workplace technologies. One way to expand your search to help find these excellent professionals is to equip yourself with employers, both internal and on contract, to increase the pool of candidates in your search.
Once you find a good candidate, be prepared and able to make an offer quickly. Things move fast in today’s job market, so the best policy is to strike while the iron is hot and make the commitment so that no one else catches your top prospect because of bureaucratic delays. There are significant costs to delaying the hiring process, not only from missing out on growth opportunities, but also from reducing the internal morale issues existing employees are experiencing due to understaffing.
On the other side of the coin, it has become important for firms to be able to retain their existing employees so that they do not worsen their recruitment challenges. A good place to start is employment engagement surveys so that you can gain important insight into employee sentiment and identify issues that could become retention problems in the future. Plus, these surveys will uncover where your highest levels of engagement are so you can take advantage of them in your internal communication and job prospect messaging. If you are a small business and do not have the resources or expertise to conduct an engagement survey yourself, consider hiring an outside consultant to help frame and execute the project; And then, even more important, help your team act on the results.
When it comes to compensation, make sure your employees understand their total compensation: basis, incentives, equity, benefits, time for charitable causes, etc. Some of the best firms are creating total award statements to communicate this in more detail. Equip your managers with such tools to explain this total compensation concept and show employees how it has grown over time.
As mentioned, it’s not always about the money for your best employees. Career growth is also an important aspect of employee retention, so make sure career paths are well defined in your organization, and that employees can see employees progress through them.
Communication is important for retaining employees, especially because they are potentially being inundated with calls or offers to leave from recruiters. As part of this approach, build a culture that respects and treats employees with respect; Find ways to be transparent in your communication, be open to feedback and follow up on questions raised.
Lastly, working from home has been tough for everyone over the years. Be sure to recognize this and find ways to make an in-person connection now when things are opening up. After all, we are still human, and humans need to feel a sense of community!
Martin Lellis is the Chief Talent and Administrative Officer for Mercer Advisors, an SEC-registered investment advisor primarily based in Denver, Colo., with various branch offices throughout the United States.