HighTower advisors focus on helping their clients make sound investment decisions and plan for the future. When it comes to investing in themselves, effective advisory businesses use that same knowledge and experience to make smart hiring, management and compensation decisions.
At the 2019 HighTower Advisor Summit, HighTower’s Head of Advisor Success, Greg Fink, hosted a discussion on recruiting, retaining and team-building featuring Laurie Kamhi of LCK Wealth Management, PJ Banazek of Morgia Wealth Management and Mike PeQueen of HighTower Las Vegas.
The advisors shared the many challenges of running an advisory business and talked in-depth about why it’s important to hire for more than just talent.
1. Finding the right hire can take time. Let it.
After years of hiring people who seemed perfect in theory, but couldn’t stack up in practice, Kamhi now takes her time when head-hunting, and her team is better for it.
“I wasn’t asking the right questions, and I wasn’t using the right screenings,” said Kamhi, who eventually added a pre-interview with an industrial psychologist to her group’s hiring process. “Now I’ve trained my team to ask the right questions. We give candidates a real-life client scenario that happened to us and have them explain how they would handle that situation.”
While it can take Kamhi up to nine months to make a hire, she has learned from her years of false starts.
“My mother used to collect frogs,” she said. “When I asked her why, she told me an old boyfriend once bought her a frog and told her, ‘You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.’ The same thing is true with employees!”
2. If someone doesn’t fit, it’s OK to let them go.
About eight years ago, Morgia Wealth Management began the process of succession planning. They were looking to find someone who could lead the practice into the future, and they ended up hiring an advisor who seemed like a great fit on paper. He was experienced and excited about the role, but after a few years of trial and error, it became clear that he was not the right fit for the job.
“You want your practice to be run in a certain way, and you want your clients to be taken care of in a certain way,” said Banazek. “We didn’t want to give up on this guy, because it is so hard to find good people. But eventually we had to let him go because he just didn’t meet our criteria.”
While this process was difficult, in the end, it was the right decision for the business.
3. Younger employees are attracted to flexibility and fun.
In response to an audience question on millennial workers, Kamhi said her team makes an effort to create a flexible, mobile workplace.
“If someone needs to go to the doctor or take a child to daycare, that’s fine,” she said. “As long as everyone has communicated with and gotten buy-in from the team, they can meet online and get their work done in their own time.” Kamhi also purchased gym memberships for her team members.
Banazek’s team does summer Friday cookouts, and PeQueen allows employees to work remotely in special circumstances. While these might seem like small incentives, to millennial employees, they’re essential to building a positive work environment.
4. Communication is key.
PeQueen’s team at HighTower Las Vegas has been inspired by HighTower’s collaborative approach to management. Since joining the firm, they have implemented many of HighTower’s best practices, putting a significant emphasis on cross-team communication.
“By contrast, at a wirehouse, management tends to be very pre-programmed and dictatorial,” he said. “We favor a much more collaborative process. We are really in a partnership with our team, just as we are in a partnership with HighTower.”
Whenever there is a problem that needs to be solved, PeQueen takes the time to check in with everyone involved and find a cooperative solution. “Collaboration is at the core of the management art,” he said.
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This is not an offer to buy or sell securities. No investment process is free of risk, and there is no guarantee that the investment process or the investment opportunities referenced herein will be profitable. Past performance is not indicative of current or future performance and is not a guarantee. The investment opportunities referenced herein may not be suitable for all investors.
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