The Courting Game

Today's intensely competitive recruiting environment demands that branch managers spend a lot of time and energy wooing prospective hires. But too many managers just aren't keeping up. Take the following tale of two wirehouse managers, both with the same firm. Mark runs a midsized Midwest office, and Oliver oversees a large office in California. Like their management colleagues all over the country,

Today's intensely competitive recruiting environment demands that branch managers spend a lot of time and energy wooing prospective hires. But too many managers just aren't keeping up.

Take the following tale of two wirehouse managers, both with the same firm. Mark runs a midsized Midwest office, and Oliver oversees a large office in California. Like their management colleagues all over the country, they have been charged with aggressively recruiting advisors in their markets. Unfortunately, this is where the similarities between the two end.

When he first met them, Oliver showed a lot of interest in hiring Barbara and Terry, who had been working as a team for about 12 years, managed $120 million in assets, and generated production of around $1.3 million. Oliver made the initial contact with the pair, pitched them on the firm, and agreed to meet them for coffee the following week. But he failed to follow-up as promised: Oliver had offered to send information on certain products and the related technology available, and had said he would put them in touch with another advisor who had recently moved from their current firm.

In the interim, the team had several meetings with the branch manager at a competing wirehouse. Oliver heard about these meetings from his own supervisor, and promised he would follow up with them, but failed to follow through. His vacation schedule, and his efforts to recruit another large producing team, got in the way. What's worse, he later admitted he felt it was the responsibility of the prospect to “woo” the manager, versus the other way around. In the end, although Barbara and Terry initially preferred Oliver's firm, they decided to move to the other firm where the manager had aggressively pursued them.

A Different Game

Across the country, on the opposite coast, Mark reached out to Mike and Sam, a high profile team of brokers who were already preparing to sign the papers for a move to a rival wirehouse. Mike and Sam were initially reluctant to agree to a meeting with Mark because they had heard that his firm's technology was not competitive, but they finally agreed. To their surprise they were very impressed, and made plans to meet Mark again the following week.

Why the change of heart? When Mike and Sam voiced their concerns about the firm's technology, Mark immediately put them in touch with the firm's new chief technology officer — a guy recently recruited from another wirehouse, where he had been the architect of what was considered the “best in class” platform on the Street. Moreover, Mark made it a point to immediately send them all the information they had requested. He also put them in contact with the head of one of the funds in which they were interested, and introduced them to an advisor with a similar business mix who had recently joined the firm. Mike and Sam are now seriously considering moving to Mark's firm.

The tale of these two managers is illustrative of what it takes to be an effective recruiting manager. Both Mark and Oliver had the same resources at their disposal. From their examples, we can take away the following lessons:

  • A manager gets one chance to make a first impression. Remember, the broker wants to know what kind of boss you will be.

  • Undersell and over deliver. Do what you say you're going to do, and only promise that which you and the firm can absolutely provide. Honesty will buy you credibility.

  • Before you part, schedule your next meeting, and make sure you know what questions the advisor wants answered.

  • An unexplained gap between communications with an advisor produces unnecessary anxiety. Find excuses to stay in touch often.

  • Candidate enthusiasm decreases with time. You have competition from other firms, so strike while the iron is hot.

These are the best of times to recruit advisor talent to your firm. But in order to beat the competition, you have to prove that you and your firm are that much better than everyone else. Be aggressive, proactive and attentive to all of your prospects, and you might even exceed your recruiting objectives.

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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