Why Advisors Should Engage a Recruiter

Just as advisors are entrusted to serve their clients first and foremost, recruiters should be expected to do the same for advisors—particularly in what has become a more complex world to navigate.

The continually evolving industry landscape has brought about a tide of change, and with it a multitude of new options and expectations. Just as clients now expect more from their advisors, advisors expect even more from their firms—and rightly so. Ultimately, this evolution has driven many to question whether their firm is still the best place to serve their clients and grow their businesses. But answering that question requires time, effort and a good deal of soul searching—as well as perspective and knowledge that an advisor may not have. Even though the process can be complex, advisors at all levels – from individuals with modest books to billion-dollar-plus teams – still ask us the same question: “Why use a recruiter?” And it’s a very valid question: Because entrusting someone else to help orchestrate the next phase of a career can be extremely difficult—and for many, understanding the value recruiters bring to the table can seem somewhat obtuse. Surely, there are those who see themselves as “do-it-yourselfers,” who find pleasure in gathering their own research and having complete control over the outcome. In contrast, there are others who feel that their time is best spent focusing on their core competencies and leaving it to a trusted advocate who has the knowledge, connectivity and skills to allow them to move forward in the most efficient and strategic way possible. To be sure, the job of a recruiter is to arrange meetings, facilitate the due diligence process and close deals, but as the landscape has expanded, so has the role of the recruiter. Yet, in a world of choice, it’s important to recognize that, like advisors, not all recruiters are created equal. Certainly, while all quality advisors feel they have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients, there are those who go above and beyond, forming emotional connections and deep trust. Similarly, there are quality recruiters who, like us, feel we have a fiduciary duty to the advisors we serve, and go well-beyond the expected scope of service. As such, we see our value to advisors as being guided by these 7 core principles:
  1. Listening first—to get to know an advisor and team, their business, and personal and professional goals.
  2. Understanding what “success” looks like—with a lens on the business today, an eye toward optimizing it in the future, and what is needed to bridge the gap.
  3. Educating and sharing objective industry insights—by offering a unique, unbiased perspective, plus information one might not otherwise have access to.
  4. Distilling an expanded and ever-changing industry landscape—curating and customizing an appropriate list of options and opportunities.
  5. Streamlining and objectifying what can be a cumbersome and overwhelming due diligence process—allowing the advisor to be strategic in thought while minimizing the impact on his or her time.
  6. Negotiating the best deal—the details of which most advisors, and even managers, would never know to ask for.
  7. And most importantly: Acting objectively and with complete confidentiality while serving as a sounding board and trusted partner.
So, if a good recruiter can do all of the above, why would anyone choose not to use one? The answer often lies in one of the following myths: Myth #1: Using a recruiter would adversely affect a deal. It’s the very ability to understand the levers in a deal that often results in an outcome better than advisors might have achieved on their own. Myth #2: Using a recruiter will limit introductions to only those firms the recruiter represents. In reality, a quality recruiter is connected to the entire landscape and can therefore present all options from the most captive to the most independent. Myth #3: “No one could represent me as well as I could represent myself.” Surely, using a recruiter means putting oneself in the hands of another. But quality recruiters make it their responsibility to ensure they act with integrity, objectivity, and without concern for their own personal financial gain. Myth #4: Top advisors are well-connected, therefore they don’t need a third-party to make introductions. We find it’s the elite advisors who are least likely to limit themselves by allowing their thoughts to become insular—particularly when it comes to expanding their potential. These advisors are typically the first ones to engage the help of a recruiter who can provide broader knowledge and fresh perspectives—that is, an unbiased view they would otherwise not have. Myth #5, the most common myth of all: Using a recruiter comes at a cost to an advisor. But the good news is that most recruiters in this industry work on a success basis at NO COST TO THE ADVISORS they represent. In a world driven by instant access to information, one might think that using a recruiter has become less necessary. Instead, greater optionality has increased complexity and has made the decision-making process that much harder to navigate. And just as the Internet and robos have not replaced the real value and expertise quality advisors can bring to their clients, the same holds true for quality recruiters. Related: Making Your Advisory Indispensable Can Drive More Value to Your Bottom Line