Find the right talent: 5 approaches to try now

man shaking hands

Get ideas from 25 high-growth firms on overcoming hiring challenges like inexperience, cultural fit, and low awareness of the RIA industry.

Key Points

  • Firms know they need new talent to sustain and grow their business and meet the needs of future investors. New talent offers more than just an extra pair of hands. Recent college graduates are eager to learn and offer real skills, like social media savvy or a knack for seeing how technology can improve back-office efficiencies. Experienced career changers bring fresh perspectives, or may offer expert understanding of your firm's target client demographic.

At a recent Schwab conference a group of advisors participated in a session focused on "Maximizing Talent". These advisors shared their challenges in attracting new talent to their firms and brainstormed ideas for overcoming obstacles.

Issues included lack of training for inexperienced talent, concerns about cultural fit, and low awareness of the RIA industry.

Here are your peers' top five ideas for tackling these challenges:

1. Demonstrate that your firm culture is a fit for new talent

Who do potential recruits see when they peruse your firm's website or walk into your office? Do they see themselves represented? Find ways to demonstrate your firm's inclusive culture and tell your firm’s story in a way that will resonate with the new talent you want to hire.

Consider conducting an informal audit of the impressions your firm projects, be it via website, personnel, communication style, or even office environment. Invite trusted associates to give you candid feedback so that you can see how outsiders perceive your firm's culture. Read Hiding in plain sight: Is your office space an untapped asset? To see how advisors are using their physical environment to differentiate their firms.

Listen to Creating an Inclusive Brand webcast replay for specifics on how three firms successfully promoted their firm to attract new talent and new clients.

2. Advocate for careers in the RIA industry with youth

The earlier young people learn about RIA career options, the better, so don't overlook educating students of all ages about our rewarding and lucrative industry. Offer to participate in career fairs, provide students with job shadowing opportunities, or teach a personal finance class. It may take a while before you enjoy the fruits of your labor, but in the long run your firm, industry, and community will benefit.

Many high schools and middle schools, and even some college and MBA programs, encourage students to job shadow professionals working in careers in which they have interest. Offering students the unique opportunity to experience "a day in the life" at your firm may not only help advocate for careers in the RIA industry but also introduce you to some potential interns for your firm. And, your firm may also benefit from gaining insights on how to attract and retain younger talent.

Texas Tech University offers a Financial Planning Academy for one week every summer for high school students. Learn more about this innovative program and gain ideas that you may be able to incorporate at your firm.

Share the Careers in the RIA industry presentation at your local high school’s career day or with students interested in learning about entrepreneurial opportunities.

3. Network where the new talent you seek can be found

Join organizations, clubs, and activities in your market where the talent you seek is likely to be found. It's critical that you have a genuine interest and fully participate, rather than attend a few times to hand out business cards and recruit. Your involvement and commitment will be your ticket to building relationships and networks that may ultimately result in hiring new talent or acquiring a new client.

Another networking option is to let your centers of influence know when you are looking for talent and share with them the specific skills, personality, and ambitions you seek in your new hire.

Learn from the experience of Andy Mathieson, founder and managing member of Fairview Capital Investment Management, LLC who shares, "I make an effort to let friends and professional colleagues know when we are searching for talent. They know and understand the personalities and culture within our organization, and will only refer prospective hires if there is a strong fit."

Try these networking tips:
  • Create an elevator speech that highlights how you value helping others
  • Listen (more than speak) and ask questions of other members to show your interest in learning about them
  • Offer a free financial literacy course for members
  • Join committees where you can demonstrate your engagement in the organization while sharing your talents

4. Offer internships to test the waters before filling the pipeline

Build a strong internship program that includes meaningful hands-on experience and exposure to all aspects of the business. And, identify and work with local universities that desire, or require students to complete an internship prior to graduation; look for business, economics, finance or financial planning majors.

Learn best practices for developing an internship program in an upcoming webcast, Internships for tomorrow's financial planners. Registration available this summer.

You can identify schools in your state that offer CFP® Board-Registered programs on the CFP Board website.

5. Develop an effective training program

Take the plunge and develop a training program for inexperienced talent. Assign a "champion" at your firm who advocates for inexperienced recruits and can take the lead in developing your "curriculum". Ensure the program includes a balance of training on the "soft" skills, like active listening, professional communication style, and relationship building; as well as the technical skills required to do the job.

Take the advice of Dino Tellone, President and CEO of Tellone Financial Services who shares, "I used to look for talent with the technical skills, and figured I could teach them the soft skills. Now I look for new talent with the soft skills, and figure I can teach them the technical skills."

If your firm is not yet ready to make the investment in a training program for inexperienced talent, you may start with offering sponsorships to supplement the training you currently have in place. Read Accelerate your success: How talent development can benefit your firm for ideas to capitalize on the power of sponsorships.

Hiring inexperienced talent is a new endeavor and learning experience for most firms. And, it may take time and some trial and error to determine the best approach for your firm to attract, develop, and retain the right talent. Learn from the wins and the setbacks, too, and don't give up.

Check out the Onboarding and retention chapter of the RIA Talent Advantage Playbook for ideas on developing your training program.

Schwab Advisor Services offers a robust RIA Talent Advantage program that includes webcasts, presentations, our RIA Talent Advantage Recruitment Playbook and many more resources to help you enhance your recruiting, hiring, talent development, and retention strategies.

And talk to your Schwab Relationship Manager about participating in workshops like this at future Schwab events, like IMPACT™.

If you're thinking about becoming an independent advisor, consider a custodian who invests in your success. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of a custodial relationship with Schwab.

"It is important to increase awareness of the RIA profession with young people and support the development of world-class RIA talent on behalf of advisors."

—Bernie Clark, EVP, Charles Schwab Advisor Services