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'Why You?': The Number One Question Your Practice Should Answer in Recruiting

'Why You?': The Number One Question Your Practice Should Answer in Recruiting

“People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” - Simon Sinek, Start With Why.

In this industry, we are no strangers to selling ourselves through meaningful and mutually beneficial interpersonal relationships. And yet, every week as I speak to and get to know top advisors across the country and industry, I am often surprised by how few are able to answer the critical question - why you?

In discussions about how to attract new advisors and teams to existing practices, many firms  wonder – what piques advisors’ interest and compels them to pursue new opportunities in the independent space and at other firms?

In Start With Why, Sinek answers this question clearly, “There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief - WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care? People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”

If your practice has been attempting to onboard new advisors to no avail, the first step is re-evaluating your current tactics. Repeating the same ineffective process over and over again is, by definition, insanity. If your efforts are not producing the desired results, it’s time to rethink your strategy and refocus on the “why”.

When it comes to refining your approach to recruiting new talent, your pitch must demonstrate “why” your model and practice is superior to your competitors by focusing on four key value propositions:



Top-performing financial advisory teams undeniably have a clear leader and vision. If this is not an evident quality in your practice, new advisors will lose interest quickly. A leader has a proven track record of setting and executing a successful strategy, as well as the ability to hire, develop, promote and, if necessary, fire. Prospects will seek evidence of your leadership’s capacity to influence behavior through trust and care, as well as a willingness to make the tough decisions.


Net New Assets

It all comes down to the results. Your team must show a historical methodology and successful track record of bringing in net new assets. To a prospective advisor, a proven strategy for generating net new assets equates to an increase in income. If you are not growing, your practice is becoming irrelevant, and new advisors will be reluctant to join. When you meet with a candidate, start with the facts then follow with an explanation of your methodology. For example, at HighTower, our advisors’ practices grew an average of 22 percent year-over-year last year. We start with this fact and then answer the obvious next question – how? Successful advisors want to affiliate themselves with other successful advisors, as well as have the opportunity to share their insights and learn from proven best practices.


Client Service Model

Prospective advisors are seeking a platform that enables them to furnish their clients with greater service offerings, more innovative technology and investment products that are the equivalent of or an enhancement to their current firm’s offering. Thus, an exceptional, scalable and repeatable client service model is crucial. After more than 20 years in this industry, I have only met one financial advisor who admitted to having an inferior service model. As for the rest, each of them claim to provide excellent service, and many of them truly do. But to a prospective advisor, it’s all hot air until you substantiate your claims. When a prospective advisor comes into your office, I would recommend that you prove your exceptional service model in the following two ways:

  1. Meet the team. Make sure prospects meet with every member of your support staff and have the opportunity to ask questions about your practice’s business model and culture. There should be a standard protocol for how these meetings are structured. Your staff should be properly trained and prepared to meet with candidates. Remember, these are the people who will be interacting with the prospective advisor's clients, so making a positive impression is essential.
  2. Personalized Transition Experience.  Walk the prospective advisor through your new client onboarding process, including a bulk transition of an established book of business. It is imperative that your prospect spends a material amount of time with your transition point person and feels that your firm and support staff is equipped to customize their transition and meet all of their clients’ needs. This is your opportunity to reinforce your service model, so be sure to highlight unique, client-centric aspects of your model – from a follow-up welcome letter to birthday acknowledgments.


Financial Planning & Asset Management Expertise.

Similar to exceptional service, a prospective advisor needs tangible proof of your practice’s success and strategy in both planning and investing. You must show your team is staffed with credentialed, designated and experienced professionals. Spotlight any and all notable industry awards and prestigious rankings. For example, at HighTower, 40 percent of our advisor teams have been Barron's ranked at some point in their careers. Sharing impressive statistics lends credibility to claims of expertise. In addition to establishing your team’s expertise and experience, you must prove the effectiveness, scalability and repeatability of your operating processes, including discovery and intake.  This gives your prospect a perspective on your teams’ investment approach and views, and whether or not they align with their own.


Remember, attracting advisors with established books of business to your team is not unlike attracting new high net-worth and ultra-high net-worth clients; you win business by proving the efficacy of your model and establishing all members of your team as qualified experts. Answer “Why you?” to substantiate your practice as the destination for industry-leading advisors. It will become evident to your prospect that you the premier choice in a space crowded with mediocrity.

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