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Building the best team around you

Directors of adviser firms need to be supported by the right people, doing the right roles at the right time, says Michelle Hoskin, business development director for Standards International.          

I’ve had the privilege of working with many of the world’s finest financial advisers and planners and it continues to sadden me that, regardless of their professional achievements, too many are still suffering from the same day-to-day complexities and challenges, with debilitating effects.

From experience, I have found these are:
• Under-resourced, inadequately skilled and poorly trained staff
• Inefficient workflow and task management systems
• Ineffective time and diary management
• A lack of practice management guidelines, operational procedures and unique house-style
• Poor team management and leadership skills.

These challenges can have a significant impact on their professional growth as well as the quality of their personal and family lives. Without a structure and clear path to follow, running a business, or even just doing business, happens by accident rather than by design. In turn this creates an over-reliance and unnecessary pressure, taking attention away from the most important role of all – the role of changing the lives of the clients.

If this wasn’t bad enough, they then have the huge demands to constantly develop relationships with their clients, while still finding time for themselves and their families. This is an enormous task that is why being supported by the right people, doing the right roles at the right time is essential! Sadly, 
I continue to see it is the relationship with their support person or team that is often under-value and over-looked.

Principles for Perfection

The first step in combating these debilitating challenges is to adopt each of my Five Principles for Perfection.

These are:
1. Design and build a unique team. A team that is plentifully resourced, highly trained and strategically developed.
2. Create a Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM) culture and then benefit from the team’s hidden desire for increased responsibility through a concept we call Receptive DelegationTM.
3. Identify and eliminate any operational complexities which exist in the workplace.
4. Increase practice efficiency and service levels through the effective use of operational procedures.

5. Maintain a best practice culture and strive for continual improvement.

In this article I would like to explore further my Principle for Perfection One.

I would not be what I am today if I hadn’t invested the time, effort and money in designing and building my unique team. We know what we’re good at, so really we should delegate everything else to those who are much better at certain tasks than we are. We will never reach our true potential on our own, and as the well-known saying goes: ‘There is no I in TEAM’.

We are all different and when our unique abilities and skills are realised, practised and nurtured they can be turned into admirable talents.

Financial services is one of the most technically trained and talented professions in the world. So why is it so many financial advisers and planners and their teams constantly miss the opportunity to maximise these skills and talents?

Designing and building a unique team is not just about selecting people who have the right technical skills. It’s also about selecting people who
have the right values, personality, work ethos, attitude and attributes to deliver the desired level of support service.

Unique team

For me, a unique team is a group of individuals whose unique talents, attributes and qualities have been realised, understood and maximised; so when working together there is no overlap, no conflict, no uncertainty and no confusion – only a team working in complete harmony.

I often see the problem starting way before the recruitment process has even begun. Many of us fear the whole concept of recruitment because of the legal and human resources legislation, rules and policies that are involved. Which is why for many
the recruitment process often
starts by asking “Does anyone
know anyone who’s looking for
a job?” Seriously, with this
approach you could end up with absolutely anyone. To do this right, you need a process.

I recommend that you start compiling a list of all the individual tasks and jobs done on a daily, weekly, monthly and ad hoc basic by you and your team. Create a spreadsheet and list down the left-hand side all the tasks that are done, and across the top write the role titles that exist within your practice. Put a tick in the box of the current role doing the tasks and straight away you’re likely to see too many ticks in your column and not enough ticks anywhere else. Once you have realised this I suggest that you go down the same list and for every task you don’t want to do or simply shouldn’t be doing – decide where the tick should go and put it there. Remember this is about designing your unique team – not going for the easy option.

Identify inefficiencies

Doing this exercise will help you see your day-to-day activities at a higher level and will help you identify where any inefficiencies have set in or where you may have a resource gap.

You now need to create job descriptions for each role in your team. Job descriptions vary enormously, but should include the following key elements:
• Overview of the role
• Key responsibilities and outputs
• Nature and scope of responsibilities
• Skills and attributes

People like structure and I can’t stress enough the importance of having clearly defined job descriptions that are well structured, well communicated and understood by every member of the team.

Going through this process gives you the time to think through exactly what you want from every role within your team and the ideal persons to hold them.

When it comes to recruitment I recommend creating a recruitment plan to support and guide you through the hiring process. The recruitment plan outlines the work involved, the key steps and key dates which keep you and anyone else involved in the process on track and focused.

Here are a few points to consider:

1. Recruitment sources

Consider: Internal recruitment; your own website; online job boards; social media; agencies; advertising; graduate/apprentice schemes; local newspapers

2. Closing date

Agree and set the closing date for applications and communicate this to all parties involved. Setting
a closing date will deter you from having a sneaky look as the CVs/resumes come in because as our moods change from day to day, so may our views on particular candidates; this is neither fair on them or yourself.

3. Second and third interviews

I like to make second and third interviews more interactive, so I include things like:
• A research project
• A short presentation
• A work based assessment

4. Induction and handover

When you have selected your successful recruit, I recommend you create an induction and handover programme. This should kick in when the new recruit starts. Inductions and handovers need to be thought through and cover all key areas and importantly communicated to all those involved, allowing you to weave any induction or handover activity into your current schedules. The more time you invest at this stage, the greater the rewards will be!

5. Training

I recommend that one of the first things you do once your new recruit starts is to carry out a training needs analysis as this will help you put together
a structured training plan. This will support their induction and ongoing development.

6. Performance and development

This is an area that often gets overlooked and is a crucial part of encouraging the growth of your team members. Formal or informal, the most important element of this process is to set key objectives for the chosen period (whether that is three, six or12 months) and also to monitor whether the key objectives set for the previous period have been achieved. Developing a member of your team is a partnership; it is not a one-way street. They can’t be great without your help.

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