New Adviser Hires: getting the relationship right
Strategic Issues

New Adviser Hires: getting the relationship right

February 17, 2014

by Tony Vidler

One of the most common options for leveraging your professional practice is to hire more advisory personnel, however it is often a path to frustration and disappointment for business owners because it simply has not been thought through.

Everyone begins with great intent: the owner really does want new hires to perform well, do great work for clients, and make good money for themselves and the firm.  The new hire usually wants exactly the same thing.  However the most common experience is that the employment relationship becomes a temporary one rather than a permanent addition to the practice.  Temporary may be a few years of course – but even a few years is usually insufficient for the investment in mentoring, support and professional development of a new hire to pay off.

Poor communication of expectations from both parties, combined with a lack of long term thinking at the beginning, is a key factor.  That cuts both ways of course; with the new hire often poorly communicating their career plan or aspirations and the business owner not thinking through what the new hire needs in order to be there for the long term in a profitable and fulfilling partnership.

In the absence of clear expectations there is typically a major relationship blunder right at the start when the wrong sort of employment structure is created.

Broadly speaking the employment relationship will begin with one of three models:

1.  Dependent (totally reliant upon the practice for everything, including wages and management in an employee style)

2.  Inter-dependent (partially dependent upon the practice; partially self managing in a partnership style)

3.  Independent (minimal reliance upon the practice & significant autonomy, but a beneficial alliance approach)

Trying to create an Inter-dependent model when somebody really needs a Dependent business relationship for example, will ensure that the new Adviser doesn’t hang around.  As will creating a Dependent relationship when Independence is needed.

Looking beyond this initial blunder however, too many business owners fail to recognise the evolutionary path that many advisers need to head down.  It is totally rational for a new, early in career, adviser to need a Dependent relationship. And rather like “managing” teenagers, the business owner “parent” needs to be mindful of and anticipate when that level of dependency changes – and then be prepared to adjust the business relationship model to support and retain the adviser in the right way.  It is to be expected that for many advisers they too will want an Inter-dependent or Independent relationship in time.

Understand clearly which type of business relationship model is necessary for the new adviser hire and structure the terms appropriately, and you have a good chance of getting them onboard and being happily productive.  Recognise how and when that relationship needs to change and evolve, and you have a good chance of keeping them longer.

© 2013 Tony Vidler.  All rights reserved.
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Comments (4)

  • Hi Tony – Great article.

    I get a lot of emails through each day and I always read yours. I know they are going to be well thought through and you can feel your experience. Very good for a young planner in planning phase for his business as many of things you mention, expand my thinking.

    Anyway,Thanks

    Christopher Bates
    Financial Planner & Credit Adviser
    Corporate Authorised Representative Charter Financial Planning

    Chris Bates - Property Planning Australia
    • Thanks very much Chris – that feedback is excellent, and I am glad you are finding the blog content useful. All the best on your career path – and yell out if there are particular topics you would like addressed.

      tonyvidler
  • Excellent article, Tony – and a good way to describe working relationships. One of the mistakes I see advisers make with monotonous regularity is trying to ‘clone’ themselves by employing other advisers they believe are like them and, therefore, will think like them.
    We can’t make that assumption. There are ways of seeing inside another person’s head, but we can never really know what’s going on in there without asking them, and keep asking…
    My version of the ‘golden rule’ is to treat others how THEY would like to be treated, not how YOU would like them to treat you!

    Susan Rochester
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