When you run a financial advisory business, your role often evolves alongside your firm — sometimes to the point where you end up running the firm as the CEO. And that can mean needing to manage a staff that’s working with clients and growing assets.
How can you ensure you’ve got the right group of people supporting your vision? Having a well-rounded human resources framework is a great start. Let’s look at nine ways to approach an effective HR strategy.
1. Prioritize Employee Experience
Promote your employee experience as a differentiator! In today’s competitive employment landscape, you may worry about recruiting quality employees. The benefits you can offer may not be as robust as those at larger firms, but you can still provide a rich, valuable employee experience—such as by offering a hybrid work option, flexible hours, or paid time off for volunteering.
The truth is that many candidates want to do work that’s meaningful to them and to make a difference in the business.
2. Dig Deep During the Interview Process
During an interview, you’ll want to get into the nitty gritty of candidates’ résumés. Be sure to ask probing questions and dig deeper into your candidates’ experience and skills.
Another vital area to cover during the interview process is cultural fit. Be sure to clearly define your firm’s values and how those values dictate the ways you service clients and prospects. That’ll help you weed out those who may struggle to meet your expectations—and welcome the ones who get your firm’s culture.
3. Onboard Employees Consistently
To bring new employees into your firm effectively, you’ll need an established onboarding process. Be sure to include training (e.g., promoting attendance at industry webinars, providing procedure documentation) and ensure new employees have what they need to assimilate into your firm. Have a small get-together over lunch to talk about the fun things you do as a team, your giving-back initiatives, and any established routines (e.g., time off around the holidays).
It’s also a good idea to have new employees spend scheduled time with seasoned team members. This can be a great way to share information and provide useful insights into the roles and responsibilities in your organization.
4. Treat Feedback As a Gift
One way to make the most out of your standard annual performance review is to ask employees to complete a personal assessment beforehand — including development goals, training or reinforcement they need, and specific items they want to discuss. This assessment will show you whether you’re on the same page as your employee and ensure the review is a focused discussion.
Once a year isn’t enough, though! Providing continual feedback eliminates yearly “surprises” and gives you the opportunity to spend time thinking about the future and the path you both would like to travel.
5. Promote a Strong Firm Culture
Many employees are motivated not by money, but by feeling like they are part of a team, doing meaningful work, and making a difference.
Here are a few ideas to reward employees for a job well done:
• Allow employees to leave early on Fridays during the summer (“Summer Fridays”)
• Allow one day of volunteer time off (VTO).
• Provide lunch once a month.
• Provide employees with their favorite snacks in the office.
• Give employees the day off for their birthday.
Taking the time to acknowledge excellent work reinforces your positive firm culture.
6. Know How to Delegate
It may take less time to do something yourself than to teach your staff how to do it. Doing so may not save time overall, however, because you’ll eventually have competing priorities. And the less you delegate, the less valued your staff will feel—leading to costly turnover. Instead, commit to training your staff members so they can take tasks off your plate.
Giving employees ownership of their responsibilities reinforces your trust in them and their work—and creates a strong culture of accountability.
7. Offer Development Opportunities
Employees want the chance to learn and grow. Without such opportunities, they can become disengaged. Consider offering to fund industry-specific training, certifications, some tuition fees, or membership in a professional association.
Another way to help employees develop — and stay on top of what’s happening in the industry — is through relevant newsletters, magazines, and blogs. Subscribe to those that are helpful for your team to read and share news you feel is beneficial for everyone.
8. Compensate Your Team Fairly
A key part of an effective HR strategy is compensation: base salary and incentives. Consider your structure — do you want to tie salary increases to tenure or performance (aligning with recent industry trends)?
Also, clearly outline your plan for incentives versus bonuses. A bonus is often a one-time reward for something the employee has little or no control over (e.g., a holiday bonus or a bonus because the firm had a good year). Incentives, on the other hand, are tied to specific goals the employee must achieve to earn the reward. Work with your employees to create SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals, and review them together on a regular basis to ensure that they are still valid and remove impediments.
9. Keep Your Door Open
It’s important to be available for your staff. After all, you are the glue that binds your team together.
Try conducting morning stand-ups to review calendar items and priorities. Or schedule “office hours,” to minimize interruptions and allow everyone to stay focused throughout the day.
A Strategic Vision for Success
Setting up an effective HR strategy is critical to your firm’s cohesiveness and success. Clearly communicating expectations and recognition opportunities increases employee satisfaction, production, and overall profits. Strategically speaking, it’s a no-brainer.