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Six steps to hiring the right staff for your business

Adviser firms need to hire staff based on a thorough recruitment process that includes looking at not only candidates’ qualifications but also their personality and suitability for the team, writes Tracey Underwood, a partner at Mode.

How do you find good employees who do not need babysitting? Before undertaking any recruitment exercise, a firm needs to refer to its business plan.

One way to approach this would be to ask where the business is now and where it needs to be. What people do you need to support the proposition? But that isn't the only question you need to on for tips on getting the right candidate for your business...

Tracey Underwood is a partner at Mode.

Mapping out the role

Once you have completed this exercise, you can map out what specific roles and responsibilities need to be provided.

For a new business, this is a relatively straightforward exercise. For established firms with existing employees to manage, the process can be more difficult.

Whenever you carry out an exercise that will bring change to the business, bring in some external help. Human resources consultants can manage the performance review process, taking on the difficult conversations, particularly if employees have to leave the business. They will be able to take full ownership of the process, potentially saving the firm thousands of pounds that could be lost if the process is mismanaged.

Once the review is complete, the restructuring can begin.

The job description

The first task is to create clear and concise job descriptions based on the firm’s objectives. It is important employees fit the job description and not the other way around.

The job description provides:

  • a clear brief for staff;
  • a clear basis for performance measurement;
  • a filtering process for selection.

It should contain:

  • a job title;
  • reporting lines;
  • the purpose of the job;
  • the main responsibilities;
  • personal skills, experience and knowledge clearly categorised as essential or desirable.

Finding the right candidates

Next is the most difficult part of the process: recruiting. With many firms failing to transform their business and therefore struggling financially, the market has been flooded with candidates.

Unfortunately, a significant number of these people lack the necessary skills and understanding of financial planning that is required for a modern advisory business. It is, therefore, extremely important that businesses adopt a robust recruitment process to minimise the risk of hiring the wrong candidate.

A variety of methods can be used to recruit, including:

  • headhunting and word of mouth;
  • engaging a recruitment agency;
  • advertising.

Each of these methods has its negatives and none of them are quick. In terms of cost, advertising and word of mouth are the cheapest routes. However, if the right recruiter can be found, this will be worth the extra expense. A good recruiter should understand your business, financial planning and the personalities required.

Once you start receiving CVs, they should be filtered to find candidates who match the job description. With the appropriate candidates selected, invite them for an interview.

The interview process

A competence test should form part of the interview process, but should be used only as a guide. The way candidates apply their knowledge is important: for more senior roles, such as paraplanners and advisers, a case study analysis would be more appropriate.

A list of questions to ask the candidate should be prepared to ensure consistency in all the interviews. Candidates can then be filtered according to their responses. Questions should be structured around three categories:

  • job-specific;
  • personality: strengths and weaknesses;
  • context: why has the candidate applied for the job?

Qualifications can be obtained and technical abilities developed, but personality and passion cannot be taught. A candidate with lots of qualifications who does not have the right personality or ability to apply their knowledge is not the right person for the job.

A second opinion

Once the best candidates from the first round of interviews have been selected, a second interview should involve introducing them to a range of staff: their direct reporting line and other members of the team.

If you are recruiting a paraplanner to work specifically for a business writer, it is important they meet because their relationship has to work. Introducing candidates to the administrator would also be useful to find out if they can work together as a team.

The existing team can offer a different perspective and notice something an interviewer may have missed.

Psychometric testing is another tool available in recruitment, and there are many tests to choose from. Use one that suits the business and team.

A good process pays off

At the end of the recruitment process, once you have identified an individual who suits your business, you can send them a formal offer.

Recruiting is not quick if done correctly. A well-rehearsed recruitment process increases the chances of selecting the right candidate based on business needs and not on gut feeling. This will provide rewards to the business now and in the longer term.