No matter what industry we are talking about, hiring and finding great talent is never an easy task. When it comes to solo and small RIAs, we would argue that this task becomes even harder. In today's technology-driven landscape, a solo advisor can stay pretty lean for a pretty long time. However, there comes a point when you have to make one of the biggest decisions of your firm - searching for your first hire. The first hire could be an administrative position, a paraplanner, an associate advisor, or maybe even a more experienced advisor. That decision relies heavily on how you envision your business plan for the long term. If you are currently a small RIA with a staff ranging from 4 to 10 team members, you are probably aware of how critical it is to make sure that you hire the right people. Because it is most likely the case that a small RIA is set up with 1 to 3 advisors with multiple support staff, every new hire has a direct impact on profit and the trajectory of the firm. In contrast, for a large RIA or a wirehouse, an additional hire has less direct impact on those two factors.
In this article, we wanted to provide advice for solo advisors and small RIAs when it comes to how they can better set their team and/or new hires up for success. Because advisors should be spending most of their time with clients, sometimes it is hard to meet the needs of your team and/or new hire. The last thing that you want to happen is for your team to be resentful or unhappy because they are not getting what they need from you as the owner/leader of the firm. This is naturally going to happen due to the nature of the size of your firm. However, we believe there are ways you can proactively keep everyone happy while growing a successful firm.
Take The Time To Hire: Whether you are a solo advisor or small RIA, you know your next hire will have a dramatic impact on your business. In addition, you are probably both excited and nervous about bringing someone on. You've worked so hard to build deep relationships and grow your firm - and now you have the ability to add another personality, talent, and skill-set to the experience that you provide your clients. You have the luxury to find someone that is a cultural fit for your firm. With all of that being said, it should be the case that you find the right person and let it be okay if it takes some time. After all, your goal should be to find someone that fits your firm for the long-run.
Set Clear Goals and Expectations: Many people wear many hats in small advisory firms. Because of that, when you hire a new team member it might be nearly impossible to clearly define their role. However, the closer you get to defining the exact responsibilities and duties of your new hire, the closer that person will be to meeting your expectations. Every owner will experience training at least one new hire. If you want your new hire to perform certain duties in specific ways, the only way they will know how you want it done is if you tell them how to do it. You should clearly communicate the goals for your new hire and set attainable expectations to help avoid gray area throughout your working relationship. This will also allow your new hire to become comfortable in the role while giving them an understanding what your definition of success looks like.
Schedule Recurring Team Or Individual Meetings:
Meetings need to always have an objective in order to be productive, otherwise, the meeting is useless. Conducting recurring team and individual meetings is a true test of leadership by making sure that everyone on your team is heard and valued. Block out 30-60 minutes every Monday morning (or, whichever morning) to have a team meeting to discuss last week, this week, and the week ahead. Doing this consistently creates a pulse and awareness around the office that allows everyone to be "in the loop". In addition, it provides a space for team members to ask you questions that you may have missed via email, or that requires in-depth conversation in order to move a project or client forward. If long meetings aren't your thing, you can have quick, follow up meetings for 10-15 minutes throughout the week either with your team or with each individual team member. Blocking time for productive conversation is the best way to prioritize your team without getting lost in the weeds of running your business.
It is certainly true that the life of a solo advisor or small RIA is that of wearing many hats. You are meeting with clients, working on financial plans, training your team, spending time on business development, and doing many other things. As your firm grows, it is important that you hire the right people at the right time with the right experience with the right cultural fit and right mindset. No pressure, right?
Hiring great talent and managing a team is not an easy task. We hope that the tips above help as you grow your firm. One last thought when it comes to hiring and building your team is to consider a virtual team like Nifty. The same tips above apply when it comes to Nifty, but it may be a better fit for your firm depending on how you want to grow.