A lot has changed in the past few months—so quickly, in fact, that sometimes it can be hard to remember what “normal” times were like. The global pandemic we face is scary, and the volatility that has trickled down into every industry can be paralyzing, but that doesn’t mean we should stop moving. In fact, it’s companies that do not take this as an opportunity to pivot and bravely step into the future that will be hurting the most when we get to the other side.
In order to do that, we have to focus instead on what hasn’t changed: Advisors are still looking to be a part of a firm that understands and supports their needs. The advisors we serve are still working hard every day to provide the highest level of care for their clients, and for many, that may mean joining a new firm that’s better positioned to help them fulfill those needs than the one they’re currently at.
Firms right now are asking these questions:
- Should we still be recruiting, given the uncertainties we face throughout the marketplace?
- Are advisors too busy quelling fears from their clients to be making a move right now?
- We’re just trying to make sure we stay afloat after this is over. How can we remain competitive?
My answer to all of these questions is this: Right now might not be the best time to transition an advisor’s book of business to your firm. In fact, their clients are going through enough without their advisor shaking things up even more. That said, now is a critical time to start planting the seeds so that when advisors are ready to make the switch, you’re already steps ahead of your competition.
I believe that in times of uncertainty or fear, it’s important to look at the silver linings presented to us as a result of the situation. So, as we’re all navigating our way through a “new normal” of doing things, here are some actions you can take to strengthen your recruitment pipeline while we wait out the volatility.
- Offer incentives for high-producing advisors.
Strong firms who were already prepared for the inevitable market correction will likely be using this time as an opportunity to offer incentives for high-earning advisors to join. If your firm has the capabilities to do so, I encourage you to come up with an incentive package that exhibits empathy toward the fact that advisors might be taking a bigger risk than usual. This could include real estate assistance, extra transition capital or accelerated payouts for an extended period of time so there’s not a loss during the transition.
- Refocus your marketing messaging to avoid “tone deafness.”
At the end of the day, we’re all human. We’re parents (and now, teachers), business owners, friends, sons and daughters. And we’re all going through this together.
Make sure your recruitment outreach communicates this. If you’re still focusing on your firm’s “back-office solution” or “modern office space,” reconsider how you’re positioning those things, so you don’t come off as tone deaf. For example, how does your firm’s marketing team relay important information to worried clients in times of volatility? How do you promote and support a flexible workplace so that the advisor can continue to spend more time with their family when the pandemic is over? What’s your long-term vision for growth that instills confidence no matter the market conditions? Messaging matters, especially now.
- Embrace the flexibility of tech.
We’re all getting used to a full-time remote work situation, which comes with some challenges. But the beauty is that advisors don’t need to be as discreet when talking to prospective firms from their home office, and technology makes it even simpler.
Use this time to take advantage of virtual meetings with advisors. You can even think outside the box—instead of having suit-and-tie Zoom calls, have a casual coffee or happy hour meeting. Sit at your kitchen table or in your shared family space. After all, you are trying to get to know each other—the more personal, the better.
The goal isn’t to start and finish a transition in quarantine. Transactions take many months, so use this time to reconsider what your firm has to offer advisors, work on your messaging and get to know advisors in a personal way. These actions will go a long way in building and sustaining a solid recruitment pipeline.
Short-term uncertainties should never inhibit long-term growth goals. And especially in times like these, it’s important to have the right team behind you. We’re all in this together, and we will be better on the other side.
Ryan Shanks is co-founder and CEO of FA Match, a digital recruitment platform that connects RIA firms, banks, wirehouses and independent broker/dealers with advisors seeking meaningful career transitions. He is also the founder of Finetooth Consulting, a recruitment firm that has worked with financial advisors and firms for 20 years.