Lesley Sharkey is recruitment director at Stonebridge
One of the key benefits of working in the intermediary sector is the opportunity it affords individual advisers to work on their own, to run successful operations and (if done correctly) to have a very successful business working as a one-man/woman band all the way up to retirement.
I wouldn’t say the market is a ‘cottage industry’ but there are certainly plenty of highly active advisers working from home or working in relatively small-scale offices and effectively doing everything themselves, or with support via a network proposition like Stonebridge.
Two new NEDs for Stonebridge
For those individuals, looking at registered individual (RI) growth may not be an over-riding concern, and expanding the advice footprint, bringing on board more advisers, establishing a more traditional-looking multiple adviser practice with various departments isn’t where they want to go.
However, for other business owners this is definitely what they want to do. Over the years we’ve seen a large number of our own AR firms starting out small, perhaps as just that one adviser who wants to work for themselves, before tapping into their own potential and utilising the support services available via the network to grow the number of advisers and other employees required to help run that firm.
Again, it’s a positive of working in the advice space, that you’re able to do both. But for those firms who have grown their adviser base, there is always a concern that those advisers working with you will want to go it alone because they harbour entrepreneurial feelings just as you do or they want to run their own business, etc.
Now, for certain advisers this will happen whatever you do. But, for others, if you can provide real added value within your proposition, if you can look after them in the best way possible, if you can offer an excellent package of salary/benefits/bonus/equity/commission, then hopefully it should (at the very least) make it less likely to feel the need to move.
Adviser churn – especially given the market opportunities currently available – has to be continually addressed. It’s really no different to what we are doing within our recruitment team on a larger, network scale.
We’re trying to ensure that our advisers and AR firms have everything they need to stay put and benefit, while at the same time working with those who want a new Principal partner, or who want to go it alone, or who want a new advisory firm home, to bring them on board.
It’s a job that needs constant attention – for both us and firms – because being out in this market we’re aware that opportunities are presented to individual advisers a lot.
It’s why we work with our AR firms not only to try and bring on board quality RIs but to also ensure that the ones they have stick around for the long term.
For firms, that really begins with an understanding of the quality of your proposition and a real assessment/reality check of what you offer, and what you might be competing against. It’s also about ensuring you can bring excellent advisers on board, or you have a training structure which can bring these people through.
What it should definitely not be about is offering someone a job just because they’re available, or using a ‘throw enough mud at the wall’ approach to recruitment – i.e. bring on board enough advisers and hope some of them make the grade and stick around. This never works.
Ask yourself what would you want as an adviser joining a new firm, especially in the current environment? Does it match what you currently offer? If not, why not? What more could you do? What more support could you offer? Do you provide leads? What is the quality like? What incentives do you put in front of your advisers? Are they achievable?
Could they ultimately secure a stake in the business – that can be a game changer for keeping good advisers and clients alike on board and not trying to go it alone. It is also the ideal retirement/exit strategy – think about it.
There are many angles to cover here but add them all up and review the package that is currently available with what you could offer, and what others are willing to provide? Of course, you must be comfortable with where you take this, but also consider what it might need to replace one of your best performers in this current marketplace?
Overall, the aim is of course to recruit, or train them up to be, excellent advisers while at the same time keeping your adviser churn down to the absolute minimum.
Your network, if you have one, should undoubtedly be able to help and support you here – make the most of their expertise and recruitment knowledge and never stop reviewing what you’re able to provide.