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Advisors: How to Train New Hires
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
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Most firms subject new hires to trial by fire.  As a result, many say they experience disorder, lack of clarity, and confusion.

Very few firms, even the best, engage in thoughtful training. This suggests that advisors can do better when it comes to preparing team members to succeed.

Considering the time and thought required to design, develop and deploy formalized training programs, it’s no surprise that the advisory profession doesn’t have a mature training model. Here are some ways to help new hires thrive:

ON-BOARDING

It’s best to immerse people early and often in the firm’s culture.

On-boarding is an opportunity to meet with the new hire to explain the firm and its vision, values and goals and to set expectations for the role and the relationship. Explain how the goals of the individual position intersect with the larger goals and vision of the firm. This will help the hire get excited about and invested in the firm and his or her contribution to it.

Smartest Takeaways From the Women Advisors Forum

During the first week of on-boarding, we recommend that firms get new employees grounded across three key areas:

1. Introduce them to the firm's people and systems.

2. Provide an overview of the job description and the training program.

3. Introduce the firm’s goals, philosophy and culture.

Meet with the new hire weekly for the first month to see how he or she is doing. Assign a peer buddy who can answer questions and make sure the individual has lunch with each person in the firm (depending on size) to help build relationships.

TRAINING

After the initial on-boarding, you must transition into training. To make this process as efficient and effective as possible, we recommend the following:

Designate a training manager or team. If your firm has a dedicated manager or staffer who is best suited to oversee training, designate this person. If not, designate yourself.

Develop a formalized training program. That should include:

  • General firm orientation:  Give new hires a tour of the office, introduce them to the team and get them comfortable with the facilities and basic work functions, such as answering the phone and locating files.
  • Position-specific training:  Designate a “key trainer” for each duty important to the firm’s positions. A training manager will oversee training and may conduct much of it, but in many cases, others in the firm may be best suited to train on a particular activity.
  • Complexity, competency, and timetables:  The trainer should evaluate the complexity of the new hire’s duties, his or her competency and establish a timetable for meeting minimum standards for the job.

AGENDA

We also recommend developing an organized program that maps out what someone should learn in the introductory period and the first 30, 60 and 90 days. Some positions—such as advisors, technical specialists and/or managers—may need a learning period of up to 12 months .

Here's an example training agenda for an administrative assistant during orientation:

Human Resources (1 hour) with John.

  • Complete personnel and broker/dealer forms.
  • Review employee manual and job description.

Your Desk / Communications (2 hours) with Martha.

  • Organize your workspace.
  • Set up in-boxes.
  • Learn telephone answering, checking voicemail, setting up night ring.
  • Learn telephone conferencing, transferring, voicemail setup.
  • Learn the fax and copy machines.
  • Learn mailing procedures.
  • Take CRM tutorial.
  • Tour facilities.
  • Get fingerprinted.

Organizational Overview (3 hours) with Susan.

  • Complete broker/dealer online registration.
  • Understand the role of the broker dealer.
  • Learn firm philosophy.
  • Get an overview of client meetings.
  • Learn about action plan meetings (introduction).
  • Get introduced to compliance.

EVALUATION

Evalution during the first 90 days may go like this:

After the 30 day “introduction” period, the new hire should be familiar with the job requirements and start to manage responsibilities successfully. At 60 days, evaluate the employee for “job competence.” The new employee should demonstrate decent control over functions. If not, this is an opportunity to get questions and confusion out on the table. The trainer should evaluate the new hire at 90 days to determine proficiency with regard to job responsibilities.

Consistently use a clear and basic rating system. The training process is measured by three competency levels: introduction (the hire is shown and understands how to perform tasks), competency (the hire demonstrates the ability to perform duties effectively), and mastery (the hire demonstrates excellence in executing duties).

We recommend that someone above the training manager, such as a professional manager, a partner, or owner, review the training schedule and the trainee at the evaluation intervals. They should meet with the individuals separately to provide a forum for open dialogue about how things are progressing and any hurdles that may be surfacing.

Of all things advisors enjoy, training may not make the list. This is probably because these tasks may involve work they don’t want to do, they haven’t delegated a manager to do the tasks and whenever someone new comes in, there’s generally a lot of work for the new person, so taking time for training seems counterproductive. Yet, this is an investment that can yield big dividends.

Matthew Matrisian is the senior vice president at Genworth Wealth Management and the author of “The Power of Practice Management.”

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