© 2020 Arizent. All rights reserved.

Best recruiting strategies from top program managers

Register now

Hiring advisers with a variety of backgrounds can result in a well-rounded team. Everyone is unique, but nobody can do what a group can accomplish together, says one program manager.

Hiring young advisers and recruiting those who are more experienced is a major challenge for bank programs. Bank Investment Consultant has spilled much digital ink on the issues surrounding staffing. Usually they’re in the mold of an industry facing dire straits: Advisers are aging and younger professionals aren't as interested in this career. Meanwhile, the business opportunity presented from retiring boomers is not being fully embraced.

This month we're outlining our top program managers. And we'd be remiss if we didn't ask these industry-leading pros their best advice on hiring and recruiting. What follows is a sample of their responses.

Peter Hong, from Citibank, has been recruiting advisers since 2002 and says he found it difficult at first. But over the years, it became easier once he realized that the process of recruiting and team building isn't about him, or even the firm, but rather about individual candidates and what’s important to them.

He strives to hire advisers with variety of backgrounds in order to make a well-rounded team. Everyone is unique, but nobody can do what a group can accomplish together, he says. Financial advisers with complementary skill sets are more likely to form personal friendship and become better partners in time. In that vein, he gets his current advisors involved in helping him recruit and coach.

Six specific qualities have emerged from his most successful hires, he says: values, integrity, drive, positive mindset, and discipline to execute and a "preferred skill set." On that last point, he breaks down the skill set to four specific areas and gives each segment a different weight in importance. Specifically, those segments are: people skills, which are counted as fully 50% because bank clients won't talk to the advisers in the branches until they like him or her; communication skills, 25%; technical skills, 20%; and workplace political skill, 5%. He says political skills can help advisers stay out of harm’s way when negative feelings are in the air or, conversely, turn political capital into good business.

Political skills can help advisers stay out harm’s way when negative feelings are in the air or, conversely, turn political capital into good business.

Not everyone looks for the optimal skill set on new recruits, however. Some instead opt for youth and energy and then teach the skills that are necessary to succeed. Melanie Weischwill, from Prosperity Bank and a mainstay on our list, has had success in hiring young advisers with limited experience who are eager to learn and a drive to succeed. She notes that her program has developed many advisors with less than five years in the business by teaching what they need to know to succeed.

Stephen Kruchten, another one of our top managers from Bremer Bank, adds that his team tries to engage the bank's leadership. They ask who they know and where his team can start prospecting. And he says that bank management has veto power over any new potential hire. "When a candidate… is interviewed by me and my regional sales manager, we put them in front of the bank leaders… If they want to pass on the candidate, we continue to look," he said in an email. His best piece of advice for rookie advisors is to stop worrying about how much money they're making and focus on the high-impact activities necessary that will make you successful.

Finally, Walter Scheide, from PNC Bank, says his recruiting strategy is two-fold. First, he makes it a point to know his competition, inside and out, including details like who the best advisors are in the market and what their compensation plans look like. Second, ABR: Always Be Recruiting. "Just like we expect our advisers to ask for client referrals, I ask people I'm interviewing to tell me about some of the other advisers they know or work with," he says in an email. He says rookie advisers need to realize that building a practice takes time. "There aren't any shortcuts to becoming a million dollar producer... hard work and loyal clients are what makes that happen."

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.