Catching the Big Fish

It takes time and tenacity to become a great branch manager who can attract and the big producers and successful teams. Recruiting skills are among the key criteria brokerage firms use to evaluate and compensate managers. The brokers you meet are using the interview process to determine what kind of manager you will be. Follow these guidelines for success: The first and most important skill is careful

It takes time and tenacity to become a great branch manager who can attract and “close” the big producers and successful teams. Recruiting skills are among the key criteria brokerage firms use to evaluate and compensate managers.

The brokers you meet are using the interview process to determine what kind of manager you will be. Follow these guidelines for success:

  • The first and most important skill is careful listening. Listen 70 percent of the time. Try to get the financial advisor to open up using open-ended questions, like “How do you feel about the culture at your current firm?” This will allow you to tailor your pitch to the specific needs and wants of the prospect.

  • Be consistent; do what you say you will do, including sending out marketing materials immediately.

  • Be persistent and stay in touch. Return phone calls within 24 hours when a prospect's interest is at its peak. If it's a good fit, make sure he knows about your firm's interest and understands how you can help his business grow and meet his other goals and expectations.

  • Be positive. Emphasize the strengths of your firm and office; don't trash talk the candidate's current employer.

  • Pre-close by asking important questions like:

    1. What is motivating you to explore other options?

    2. What criteria will you use to decide if we are the most appropriate fit?

    3. What other options are you considering, and how do we compare?

    4. What kind of transition package are you looking for?

    5. Is there anything preventing you from making a move now?

  • Respond fully to every concern, and arrange for him to meet with product people who will impact his business.

One Manager's Success

Matt is a wirehouse manager with almost 20 years in the business. As a manager, the most important mantra Matt adopted was: “Do what you say and don't promise what you can't deliver.” He says this philosophy enabled him to convince a $3.5 million team to move from a large national bank to his office this year.

Dan and Michael were that bank's largest producers in their region. But they felt they were being compelled to sell products that weren't suited to their clients. When they voiced their concerns to management, they got no response. Dan and Michael were introduced to Matt, who immediately impressed them. Matt met with them several times over a period of over 18 months and listened to everything they had to say.

Over time, Matt provided the two brokers with all of the information they requested and carefully outlined the types of products that would be available to them if they moved, such as alternatives, structured products and private equity. He arranged meetings with product specialists from his firm so that Dan and Michael's specific questions could be answered directly. Matt was also quick to dispel their expectations that they would get a 200 percent upfront cash deal. Instead, he fashioned a realistic and favorable package that enticed them to make the move. According to Dan and Michael, they moved as much for the opportunity to work for Matt and gain access to a more sophisticated product set as they did for the transition package. Approximately 90 percent of their clients moved with them in the first six months, and they are on track to grow their business 25 percent this year.

Another Manager's Downfall

Matt's management style was not the one adopted by Grant, another wirehouse manager from the East Coast. Grant was introduced to an $8.5 million team from a quality boutique firm with ultra-high-net-worth clients. The team would have been an easy close for most managers. Debra, the lead producer on the team, had been sold on Grant's firm before their first meeting. But Grant was not used to dealing with female advisors; his tone and language made her uncomfortable, and he made several negative comments about her current firm.

Instead of listening to what Debra had to say about her business, Grant used the meeting to discuss his accomplishments and told Debra how to run her business. Grant promised to provide pro-forma financial information and to put Debra in touch with two top women producers who had recently joined the firm. But he failed to follow through Finally, he left Debra with the clear impression that he was not interested in having her team join his office. This was not actually the case. It was more Grant's style (or lack thereof) that was a turn-off to Debra.

Learn From Your Mistakes

“You have to be upfront about everything-good and bad,” says a metropolitan wirehouse manger who has been extremely successful in recruiting. “Advisors know that no firm is perfect and they appreciate my full disclosure,” he says.

Will, a new manager for a regional firm in the Northwest, has recently been promoted to a growing branch and charged with aggressively recruiting to fill empty seats. Carl, a high-profile advisor who expressed interest in changing firms before retiring, was referred to Will. Will took the first meeting with the advisor by himself and although he had thoroughly prepared, it did not go as well as he had hoped. Rather than admit his ignorance, Will tried to answer a number of highly technical questions about the firm's product set. He should have been honest and offered to follow up with Carl the next day. Instead, Carl lost confidence in Will as a potential new manager.

To Will's credit, he realized he was in over his head and called on his area manager. The area manager promptly stepped in, and with Will at his side, made Carl comfortable with the decision to join that firm. In the end, it was an enriching experience for Will, making him a better manager and enhancing his recruiting skills.

Your willingness to learn and, particularly, to find a mentor in the “art of recruiting” is an excellent start to becoming a superstar manager and successfully earning the compensation that comes with meeting or exceeding your firm's recruitment quotas.

Writer's BIO: Mindy Diamond founded Chester, N.J.-based Diamond Consultants, which specializes in retail brokerage and banking recruiting www.diamondrecruiter.com

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