Beyond the rate

Hiring An Assistant? Do These Two Things.

Most financial advisors see themselves as entrepreneurial. After all, you are responsible for attracting clients, creating a service experience, and generating revenue, just like any other business owner. But one of the true tests of an advisor’s entrepreneurial grit is the decision to hire an assistant.

It’s a real gamble. You’re going to invest significant time into the hiring and training process. You’re going to risk disrupting the service experience to which your clients may already be accustomed. And of course, the financial commitment can be sizable.

On the other side of the coin, a good assistant can transform your practice. You can reclaim oodles of time that you previously spent on relatively low-value work and reallocate it to the tasks that generate the biggest rewards. Imagine how well you could perform with less stress, fewer distractions, and more time to focus.

Done properly, your clients will enjoy an even higher level of service and the money you invest will generate an excellent rate of return. It’s not surprising that many advisors who hire an assistant say they wish they had done so sooner.

If you’re thinking about hiring an assistant, here are two tips to help your investment pay off.

Be clear about what you need

Defining your assistant’s role is like setting an investment objective. It allows you and the assistant to have clear benchmarks for success. It removes confusion about who’s responsible for what. It reduces the odds of duplicating efforts. And it’s essential to keep track of how things are working out over time.

The classic role is essentially that of an administrative assistant. The job entails tasks such as answering phone calls and emails, scheduling meetings, maintaining client files, and responding to queries about things like statements and tax receipts.

These tasks do not require licensing or extensive training, the salary range of this type of assistant will be at the lower end, and the returns should be fairly immediate. Unshackled from all of this busywork, you can get out there to nurture and develop the relationships that drive your practice forward.

A second variation on the assistant role is something more like an associate advisor. With proper licensing and training, this type of assistant can take orders, place trades, deal with compliance issues, and even conduct some client meetings for you.

This is a whole new level of responsibility. Filling the role may be more difficult, and the expense will be greater, but in return, you will be afforded an even greater level of freedom to pursue new relationships and revenue opportunities.

A third category of assistance is a part-time or virtual helper. Maybe you need someone once in a while to hop on the phone and invite prospects to a seminar. Perhaps you could use help transferring all your client data to a new CRM. Maybe it would boost your marketing efforts to have someone post a weekly blog for you.

Two trends are making this type of occasional assistance more viable than ever. One is the gig economy, which has seen a record number of people take on temporary and freelance work. The second is the globalization of talent, which has made it remarkably easy to go online and hire skilled help from Europe, Asia, Latin America and other foreign markets.

Pay close attention to soft skills

When searching for the right hire, keep in mind that the number one reason clients leave financial advisors is not poor financial performance, but lack of communication. Above all, clients want to feel seen, heard and valued. While smarts and attention to detail are always important in an assistant, excellent soft skills can be priceless.

Think about some of the best service you’ve ever received, and there’s a good chance it was from someone in retail or hospitality – a nice store, restaurant, hotel or even an airline. So it makes sense to cast your hiring net beyond the obvious financial industry.

Even if you’re looking for a licensed associate advisor, someone with the right client service instincts and the desire to learn can make a very effective and economical hire. In 2020, there are many good people in a position to change careers.

You can start your search within your personal network, on professional platforms like LinkedIn, and on the country’s largest free job board, Indeed Canada.

If you decide to go the virtual assistance route, there are major marketplaces like Fiverr that offer freelance help with by-the-hour and by-the-task pricing for everything from designing business cards to developing a website or automating marketing emails.

Hiring an assistant is a major decision that can pay off big time if you do it right. Spend time thinking about exactly the type of help you want, and don’t forget to rank people skills right near the top of your wish list. Good luck!

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