This is The Ultimate Advisor Podcast, the podcast for financial advisors who want to create a thriving, successful, and scalable practice. Each week, we'll uncover the ways that you can improve your referrals, your team, your marketing, and your business operations, helping you to level up your advising practice, bring in more assets, and create the advising practice that you've dreamed of.
You'll be joined by your hosts Bryan Sweet, who has more than half a billion dollars in assets under management; Brittany Anderson, the driving force for advisors looking to hire, improve their operations, and company culture; and Draye Redfern, who can help you systematize and automate your practice's marketing to effortlessly attract new clients.
So, what you do you say? Let's jump into another amazing episode of The Ultimate Advisor Podcast.
Brittany Anders: Hello. Brittany Anderson here. We are talking today on The Ultimate Advisor Podcast about getting the right butts in the right seats. This is just a topic I am so incredibly passionate about because there is so much to be said for having quality people in your firm, having quality people in your company.
Before we talk about how to get those great people, I've got to bring up some of the lies that we like to tell ourselves. So there are three things... and I'm just going to call it like it is... There are three excuses that I hear time and time again in businesses when we're looking at the hiring and the firing process. When we're looking to bring on a new team member, I often hear, "We've got to hurry up with this because we need a body. We're drowning. We need a body in here." The second thing that I hear is, "Well, so and so has been with us for forever, so I can't part with them. I can't let them go. Yeah, they cause me headaches, but they've been here for a long time." Then, finally... and I think you'll find this a bit interesting... is I hear, "We really need somebody with the right experience." Okay?
So those are the lies that I hear the most common. Those are the things that we most commonly tell ourselves, the excuses that get in the way of getting quality people in our companies. The reality is, you can train just about anyone on anything. Now, it's a bit different if you're looking for... There's a company that's hiring an attorney. Obviously there's a certain amount of schooling and designations, and all of that, that you need. Same thing with a financial advisor. If you want to bring in an advisor and have them join your firm that has an existing book of business, that's also a different scenario.
However, if you are looking to add to your team... whether it's in client services, if it's in marketing, if it's in front desk operations, if it's in your actual operations department... if you're looking to fill some of those gaps, you absolutely do not need a certain level of experience. The thing that I will say today is that, again, you can train somebody on just about anything, but the one thing you cannot train them on is how to be a good person.
So if you're in the mindset that, "I just need a body here, I just need someone to fill this position so that we stop drowning," that is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make for your business. There's the mantra out there that says, "Slow to hire, quick to fire." As you think about the opportunities that you have within your company, as you think about maybe a potential new position... you're looking at upgrading, maybe there's somebody on your team that's just not quite keeping up... you need to be mindful of how you make your decisions.
I want to talk a bit, to start out with, on the whole hiring process overall. The thing to remember is that a killer job description is everything. You have to understand that, when you're bringing somebody into the company, you want to be very slow and methodical because you have to put them through some hoops. You have to test to make sure they're going to fit your culture. You have to make sure that they're going to fit the flow. If you just throw somebody in, and they completely counteract everything that you have worked so hard towards in having cohesiveness and collaboration on your team, that has a potential to be detrimental to the wellbeing of your company.
Then, when you're looking at the other end of the scale, when you're looking at letting somebody go, the biggest mistake you can make is sitting on it, sitting on it or having multiple discussions around the same thing. My guess would be that, if your gut is telling you that if somebody is not the right fit, you're probably correct. There's a whole lot out there that says, if you have that gut, you have to listen to that little birdie on your shoulder, that little gut feeling that you need to let somebody go.
The thing that I want to state here is that it doesn't have to be done in a negative way. You can part terms in a very positive direction. So, a lot of times, if somebody is in your company, and they're not performing to the standard that you want... they're not jiving with the culture, they're not jiving with the rest of the team... chances are they're probably just as miserable as you are. I don't know a whole lot of people out there who like being the subject of constant reprimand. People don't like that. They don't like being the ones that are in trouble all the time. So, if you were to sit down with them, and just have a very honest conversation of, "Hey, you know what? Clearly, this isn't working."
There's a statement that I like to use about team members, and it's "I-we-you". If you are approaching somebody within your firm... and you're trying to figure out, "Are they the right fit? They've had some issues. I can't wrap my hand around... Maybe I'm not to the point where I want to fire them because I think there's some potential,"... there's an I-we-you statement that I like to go by.
The first time you approach somebody, and there's been some issues there... maybe there's repetitive issues... I like to go to them and say, "Hey, this is what I've seen. This is what I've noticed. How can I help you? What can I do for you to make this better?" So that's point number one.
Point number two is, if you still notice some of those issues, if they're just not quite improving, then you jump to the "we". So then I like to go into it and say, "Hey, okay, I did this for you. This is what you told me. Now, what can we do together? Let's sit here, and let's brainstorm together." This is the "we" component.
Then they go back to the drawing board, and if it's still not getting better... again, they're not getting it... that's when you go to the "you". That's when you basically go... and we're talking about first, second, and third final warnings... that's when you go back to them, and you're like, "Hey, this is what I gave you. This is what I offered. This is what we worked on together. Now it's up to you, and this is the last chance."
If you just get that I-we-you mentality in your head, that's showing that, as an employer, you have done everything possible to try to help them be... basically live up to the standard, to help them maximize their potential. If it gets to the "you" point, and there's still an issue, that's when it's time to go, and that's when it's to stop helping, stop thinking about it, to cut your losses, and part ways.
So that's just some of the things, when we're looking at making sure the right people are in the right seats, the mentality of slow to hire, quick to fire. There are a ton of resources out there. We'll make sure we put these in show notes on at least some of the most popular ones. When you are bringing on new team members, when you're trying to help your existing team members to level up, there's different resources. There's assessments out there that you can put them through to help you make sure that you're getting the right person for your company, for your culture, so that you're bringing them on in the right way, and not have it drag out too terribly long, because I do understand there's a happy medium.
When you're in, let's just call it whirlwind mode, I understand that getting somebody in there is important, and doing it in a timely manner is important, but again, you don't want to rush the process. If you rush, and you get the wrong person in there... I can't say it enough... you are going to pay for it because you know what's going to happen. You're going to be back at square one in a very short period of time, and you're probably going to have to rehire that position because you rushed in the first place.
Those are just a couple of the key things I wanted to open up with today when we look at hiring and firing, when we look at that start of a person's career with your company and the end of a person's career with your company.
Draye, I would love for you to talk a bit about... I touched very briefly on job descriptions. I want you to talk about, from a marketing perspective, how do you maximize your job description and just make it killer to attract the right talent?
Draye Redfern: I think attracting the right talent is obviously so, so critical and so, so important up front, but I think that initial component, where someone is looking for a job and is applying for a job, is a missed opportunity to make them jump through a hoop or two or three to see if they're a good for you and your business. We do this all the time because, in my businesses, we try to basically systemize, automate as many things as possible. We do that in the hiring process up front too in order to give us more clarity about the person we want to hire.
So, perfect example. Let's say we're looking for a new person in our business. What we'll end up doing is, we'll post the job publicly, but it will not be tied to, usually, our company, our name, any of those sorts of things for a couple reasons. We want to make that job post very onerous. We want it to be almost a sense, when someone reads this, where in the first half second, they know whether they're going to be a good fit or not. One of the ways that we do that is, literally the first line of most of our job postings say, "There's a good chance this job is not for you," because I want someone who's going to show up and they're going to prove me wrong.
If they say, "Well, it's not for me," then I know that they're probably weak. Maybe they don't have that strong of a backbone. Maybe they're just looking to see how many places they can blast their resume out to. I want them to... If I can push them away up front, I want to get rid of as many people as possible because I want to work with winners. I want to work with people who are pushing that envelope. So we usually start most of our posts that way.
Then we go on to the post asking or being very clear about what we are looking for, but even more clear about what we're not looking for. You may meet some of the facets of what you're looking for, but there's a whole bunch of stuff that I do not want in our organization. If we can know what we don't want in our organization, it makes it really, really easy to eliminate some of those culture cancers that you may have in the organization later on. So that's sort of the middle of the job posting.
At the end of the job posting, we ask for three things, and these three things help to make the hiring process exponentially easier and save so much time. Most people will just say, "Send us an email, attach a resume," and that's it. That may work great for many people. I think taking it a few steps further can save you so much more time and give you a lot more insights into who that person is.
So here's what we do. We ask for the resume, obviously. We want to see what their history is. Then, we also want a customized cover letter on what they think their primary strengths are, and why those primary strengths would be a good fit for this position. Basically, we just want to see if they're going to take a bit of time into this post and what they think are their differentiators as a candidate.
But here's where it really gets good. Where we go a step further after that is, we ask for them to shoot a video on why they think they would be a good fit for the job. This does so, so many things. I got this particular strategy from one of our mastermind groups we were in. This does a lot. It tells you a lot about whether they actually read your job post.
Many people can just submit their resume quickly and easily because a lot of the job sites allow you to do that. A smaller percentage will then submit a customized cover letter. The people who actually go through the resume, the customized cover letter, and then a video on why they would be a good fit for the job, clearly identify with the parts that you're looking for and what you're not looking for in your post. It also tells you so much more that can't actually be put on paper.
Perfect example: the last person that we hired using one of these processes basically spent a lot of time, and she told us why she thought she would be a good fit for the job, but she didn't just stop there. She went through... and she didn't know how to edit, but she downloaded one of those free editing softwares online... and she tried to edit her video together. Now, the edits were not good, and we would never use her for a video editing role, but it showed us that she took that extra initiative, that she basically cared about what that end product would look like, and that she took extra steps. That alone was then enough to say, "Okay, you submitted the resume, you submitted the customized cover letter, and you submitted why you're a good fit for the job in the video. You jumped through the hoops. Let's sit down and talk."
Now, this saves so much time because, if someone doesn't submit all three of those hoops, we probably don't want them because they don't follow directions, they don't read the instructions, or they're just simply trying to blast their resume out to 10,000 other places hoping they get some nibbles. I don't want to be that guy that bites.
I want to bite on something that is worthwhile, that we can then invest into an individual. We can help them. We can help them grow, just like Brittany said. I don't care if they don't know anything about marketing. We'll train them on the marketing. What I care about is who that individual is at the core. I want to know that they're a good person. I want to know that they're a hard worker. I want to know that they pay attention to the details. I want to know that they actually do what is required. That initial process helps us, in a lot of ways, to do that.
That's just one of the ways you can automate and systemize some of this processes. Once we have them in... and we talked about this a few episodes ago... then we put them through the Kolbe Index, basically just to make sure that we've got the person for whatever the hole in the organization may be. It's just k-o-l-b-e. You can go look it up online. That Kolbe Index really gives us a lot of insights on where that individual may fit as far as tasks and, to a certain degree, culture-wise in the organization. That I highly recommend.
This little process is literally... I can't even quantify the hours that it saved us, and it's allowed us to really get an incredible caliber of individuals for our business.
Brittany Anders: To add to that, Draye, I think one of the biggest errors I see in businesses and hiring is also once you get to that point. So after you've gotten through the initial round of people sending in their videos, after they've given their cover letter, their resume, they're engaged... a lot of times, even when employers have all that in place, where they fail is when they get into the interview because they have terrible questions.
Making sure that you have the right questions to truly engage the person that's in front of you... because, gosh darn it, they have gone through a heck of a lot of work to get to the point that they're at. So then, it's your job as an employer to turn around and ask them some very thought-provoking questions.
Well, Draye, do you want to elaborate anymore on that next portion of the process?
Draye Redfern: For us, it usually tells us... We have a bunch of information up front about their background, why they think they're good. We know what they think they're strengths are, and we know whether or not they go the extra mile.
So a lot of times what we do... and this is maybe a good fit for some organizations and not for others... is that we actually then put them to the test. In the interview, for most of our individuals, we have them then write a piece of copy, play with a headline, edit a video, or come up with a strategy on a campaign because, from my side, what happens all too often is someone says they can do these things or that their mind works at least in this way, whether they have the training or not. Then you put them in and you realize, "Oh my gosh. I can't train to fix the gaps that may be there," because it wasn't the right butt in the right seat.
So we ask questions, obviously, to basically go a bit deeper into that. Part of our actual process is we then make them show us, as an example. Now, for many advisors, you can't necessarily do something on that level because they're not part of the... their clients yet, or you don't want to have interactions with someone who's new to the organization. There's a lot of reasons why, but there's facets of that that you could probably use.
You could come up with a hypothetical situation and then ask them how they would handle it, how they would respond to it, what they would do, or how they would solve it. Being a bit more abstract in your questionings really takes you more... whereas a traditional question might take you from point A to point B, I want to go from point A to point Z. If I can think abstract in some questions and really test them with an actual example, a real world situation, it shortcuts that time from my perspective, to see whether or not they're going to be a good fit.
Obviously, you want to ask the questions... and you could go way more into this, Brittany... of the facets and the requirements and whether they can meet the requirements of the job, a lot of that sort of stuff. I think that from, having experience of putting people through their paces to see if they can actually do what they say they can do, has worked out great in our experience.
Brittany Anders: I think you're dead-on there. We have done something very similar within Sweet Financial. We actually have them go through a couple different exercises, depending upon the given role that they're interviewing for. So, same thing as what Draye was just talking about. We'll have them work through different types of form letters. How do you respond to a client that's maybe a bit crabby or mad about something, seeing how they'll interact. Another thing that we have any new prospective hire do is actually meet and interact with the people that they would potentially be working with.
You have to, as a leader in your company, or whoever is designated as the leader in this particular role of hiring, you have to use a bit of your judgment. Sometimes, when you have a really close-knit team, you've got a solid culture, sometimes you find your team members being a bit too nit-picky. You have to use your better judgment. It's so important to bring in the other team members that they will be working with, make sure they get a positive vibe as well.
I want to elaborate a bit too, just on the topic of questions. One of my favorite questions to ask... because especially in our industry, it is our due diligence to have a high level of detail. In our industry, we have to pay attention. We have to be tidy. We have to have our stuff together. So I like to ask people, "If I were to walk into your bedroom, what would it look like?" I'm not kidding you, people... When you ask people a question like that, they can't lie and make it up. They're like, "Oh, lord. There are laundry baskets everywhere, and I've got clothes, and my kids' toys are on the floor," and whatever else.
For whatever reason, questions like that, people can't help but just give their honest reaction because, in their mind, they're physically picturing what's going on in their world, whereas if you ask somebody, "What do you bring to the table?", chances are they've Googled the heck out of that question, and they know exactly the canned answer they're going to give you. I love questions like that.
I love asking people... There's another one too: "If I were to line up you and ten other candidates, ten other interviewees, in front of me, and I let you be the one to pick what trait I am judging all of you on, what would that trait be?" That's another one that I like to ask because it makes them think. It's not the same as asking, "What is your exceptional skill set?" It's just asking it in a different way.
So, those are a couple examples of the types of questions that I really like to ask in order to pick somebody's brain and get away from the canned answers that they can research and look up before they come in.
Bryan, I think we have done an exceptional job at building a great team at Sweet Financial. I think we've vetted people. We've put the right butts in the right seats. So can you just talk a bit about how having great people behind you has really helped to catapult your business.
Bryan Sweet: I would first of all just say you've done a great job of getting all the right butts in the right seats.
First of all, I will just say, one of the comments that you made... and I would tell you, I can't tell you how much that's true is... you really want to have a nice person. You want people to be able to get along with people, make friends with your clients. You really can train a lot of other things, but if you're just downright not a nice person, at least for our firm, you're not going to fit. So I think that's just really, really critical.
Another thing I think, at least for me, has been so helpful... and I think if you always keep this thought process... is what's the best use of your time? Where do you make the most impact? Where can you generate the most revenue? Where can you do the best for your client? If you're not spending the majority of your time in those activities, then that's probably telling you that you need to hire somebody. I'd love your comments on when to hire in a bit, Brittany. You need to spend all of your time doing what you're really, really good at and where you can make the biggest impact.
I will tell you, just to give you an example, I have somebody sit in on all of my appointments. We record the meetings. They take notes. Once the meeting is over, then that person goes back to our wealth management team or our client service team and actually implements everything. So literally, I can focus on the client in that moment, handle all the issues, and then all the to-dos actually are done after the meeting. I literally never have to think about it. I try and do everything that I can like that.
I want to spend all my time and energy on the visionary things, the things that I can have a major impact, and hire great people that do your marketing, that do your client service, that do your wealth management... your director of first impressions... all of those people. Those people, when given the chance, will shine if you hire a nice person.
It's just freed me up to literally dive deep into how to make the business better... if you have extra time, create other opportunities that I've been fortunate enough to do, but not have any ill effect on the business. So I spend a significant amount of time on these outside businesses, and our business continues to grow leaps and bounds every single year. But I know I can be out for a month, and I'm not going to miss a beat because I've got all the right people in the right seats. Kudos to Brittany for doing that.
I think the other big thing I would say as a business owner is advisors are too slow to hire. They do too many things for too long, thinking that it's an expense to hire somebody. Once again, just like the mastermind groups we talked about before, I would tell you, having great team members is an investment, and they absolutely cost you zero.
Brittany, can you comment on when's the right time to hire somebody?
Brittany Anders: Yeah. Actually, before I even say anything on that, I want to make another comment. So, just like in a couple of the previous episodes, I mentioned that most financial advisors don't get into the business to be marketers. They also don't get into the business to have a bunch of people to supervise. You get in the business because you see a need. You see that you can help people. You see that this is a really good business for recurring revenue. So you see all these opportunities. Most financial advisors are not in it to say, "Hey, you know what? I want to grow a really big business and have a bunch of people that I have to deal with. That sounds good." That's not the case.
So, as Bryan mentioned, a lot of times, financial advisors, because they have that fear of having to deal with more and more people, more and more personalities... you deal with time off, family issues and all the stuff that comes with having a team... the thing that I can say is that, if you can actually hire before you need it, your business is going to grow faster.
I think that's what we've done at Sweet Financial, is really sought a certain need in the business and actually put somebody in there before we were in that desperation mode. But what did I say earlier? One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is we need a body. Well, if you're proactive in your hiring strategy, you will never face that particular feeling. You just completely take that lie off the table.
So I think that, if you can identify certain opportunities in your business, as Bryan mentioned, if you're delegating as much as possible so you're only working on the things that give you energy, that also gives you time to work on your business versus being in it. If you have the freedom in your calendar to really sit there and look from a bird's eye view at what's going great in your business, where are some gaps or areas of opportunity, then you're going to be able to make a very good judgment call on when you need to get somebody in seat.
I want to wrap up today just by saying that I don't believe in people reinventing the wheel. We talk about that at Sweet Financial all the time. If we can offer a value piece to you that's truly going to save you a ton of time and money, we're all for it.
That being said, if you would like a copy of our hiring process... so, what we do to basically to get somebody from engaging with us through a job add all the way through to when we hire them and bring them on the team... simply shoot me an email. It's email@example.com. I would be happy to share that with you. I believe so firmly in this. I am a hundred percent on full support of the concept of slow to hire, quick to fire. Again, shoot me an email. It's firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're going to go ahead and wrap up this episode. You are not going to want to miss next week because we're going to talk about just how your team is so important. Your team is important for your business. They are essentially your brand. In the next episode, we're going to talk about how do you build that brand and help your team reflect it? We'll see you next time.
Draye Redfern: Hey there. Draye Redfern here. Before you go, we just wanted to say thank you for listening to this week's episode of The Ultimate Advisor Podcast. If you enjoy this episode, then please subscribe to the show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify, and be sure to rate us five stars on iTunes because, when you do, you'll be entered into a monthly drawing for our Ultimate Advisor coaching program, which is a $2,000 value. If you would like to access more of the show notes, additional resources, and our free premium content, then please visit ultimateadvisorpodcast.com.
We look forward to seeing you in the next episode of The Ultimate Advisor Podcast. We'll see you there.