When considering how to build a business that attracts and retains millennial employees, people often focus on flexible work hours, virtual office days and other tangible employee benefits. While these add-ons might sweeten the deal, I can guarantee you that they’re not going to be the primary reasons why a millennial would join your firm and they’re not going to be the deal-breaker for why a millennial wouldn’t join your firm. Those types of benefits are nice-to-haves but they’re definitely not need-to-haves. I would invite you to take a few of these need-to-haves into consideration instead of working through the logistics of how to enable a virtual workspace or how to track flexible work hours. Taking time to invest and develop these four aspects of the business will definitely go much further in your search for the firm’s next generation of young talent.
#1 – Focus work culture
For financial advisors, I would contend that work culture is arguably one of the most important considerations to young potential candidates. For one, unfortunately, the financial services industry doesn’t have the best rep. The media often chooses to highlight the negative scandals (like Ponzi schemes) within the industry rather than the positive stories of how financial advisors enable their clients’ lives. Secondly, ever since the hype surrounding the DOL rule, there’s a real public awareness (in and outside of the industry) about what it means to be a fiduciary and hypersensitivity surrounding fees. Lastly, there have been so many horror stories of young advisors at wirehouses or product companies who become burned out after a few years of trying to build a book of business of friends and family.
With this in mind, a potential new hire is going to be looking for any red flags or indications of whether these issues are real concerns within your firm. A new hire will want to make sure the firm is a cultural fit that truly emulates the values and standards they find important to them, which, frankly, disprove these negative misconceptions about our industry. This, of course, can be very difficult for someone to get a sense of your firm’s actual culture without working there first. But you can address these concerns in different ways throughout the interview process. Here are a few suggestions:
- Demonstrate that you have a clearly defined company mission and values, which focus on putting the client first and doing the right thing, and post those values on your website and in the job description.
- Show that you have a simple and fair fee structure, which could be posted externally on your firm website to show transparency or explained to the candidate during the interview process.
- Add a fiduciary pledge or statement on your website and/or in your email signature so new hires see that you continually reinforce it every time you communicate with them.
- Reinforce your goals-based or planning-based approach to working with clients in your marketing collateral as well as in your company description in the job posting.
- Create very clear job descriptions that emphasize whether or not this is a sales role. If it is a sales role, take the time to clarify how new hires are expected to generate leads and new business.
#2 – Define your roles
It’s crucial to have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for new hires as well as other team members, and to make these known during the interview process. First, it’s the best way to find a new hire that’s actually a fit for the firm, because they’ll be able to use their list of responsibilities to better envision what the day-to-day looks like and how they’ll be interacting with other members of the team. Additionally, it helps to bring more clarity about what their long-term career track might look like. When working at a small business, it’s too easy for someone to fall into the trap of becoming a jack-of-all-trades. This team member becomes super valuable to the team, but their career track for continual professional development becomes a bit murky. Sure, they could pick up another new skill or project here or there, but eventually they can realize that they’re overworked and may not be really working toward a long-term career. And it’s true, to some extent, everyone within a small business has to wear many hats every day in order to keep things moving. This is to be expected. It becomes an issue though when roles and responsibilities are so undefined that it makes it difficult to motivate and retain your young team members.
#3 – Show there’s opportunity to grow
Don’t just paint a picture of what the current job opening is, but take the time throughout the interview process to paint a picture of how this role could evolve, or how the new hire could grow at the firm. Obviously, you haven’t seen this new hire in action yet, so it’s impossible for you to make promises about what their long-term career might look like. However, it’s still important to emphasize that there is an opportunity to grow over time. Keep in mind, we’re talking about young potential new hires who still have a long career ahead of them. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook this in interview process when you feel established and settled in your current role. You have to remember what it was like on the other side of the table when you were first starting out.
You don’t have to make any promises—but do bring this discussion to the forefront of your conversations during the interview process. This can be as informal as giving examples of how others have grown into their role at your firm. This will help give the potential candidate a point of reference and an understanding that your business allows flexibility based on a team member’s strengths and performance. If your firm has a partnership track already in place, this could be a formal discussion with specific measures and goals that explain how someone on the team becomes a partner. Even though you have no idea whether this new hire is a potential candidate for partnership, it’s still relevant and worthwhile making this known. Even if the new hire is never partner material, it helps demonstrate that your firm has created an environment, which supports long-term career development. This is particularly important to a young potential candidate.
#4 – Define your business vision
It’s essential to have a defined business vision that explains what the firm’s long-term strategies and goals are and to make these known at some point in the interview process. Not to sound ageist, but this is a particularly important point for advisors who are a bit older or later on in their career. If a young candidate is thinking about joining the team, they’re going to want assurance that the firm is going to be sustainable over the long-term even after you retire. If you’re a younger advisor, this is still very important because the vision will help affirm that you’re not just a great sales person with lots of clients but that you’re also a business owner at heart, who thinks long-term. Regardless of where you are in your career, this is an important exercise to go through with a new hire, because it enables the young talent to envision how they can support this vision and the firm over the long-term.
Focus on what matters
Listen, the interview and new hire process can be a complicated and complex process. The candidate is interviewing you, as much you are interviewing the candidate. The goal today was to point out what’s important to a young potential new hire when they’re considering your firm so you can focus your time and resources on developing the things that actually matter to them. It’s no secret that the industry is struggling to attract young talent to the financial advisor profession. This means you’re working with a smaller pool of potential candidates than you would probably prefer. Before you seek the next generation of young talent for your firm, take the time to consider these four things if you want to successfully attract them to your business.
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