Secrets of successfully onboarding a new advisor

Secrets of Successfully Onboarding a New Advisor

BY John Easton, Director of Wealth Management
November 23, 2016


Welcoming another advisor to your team can be a solid long-term strategy to build your business. What are the key factors to consider? How can you ensure your onboarding program is successful? The answer to those questions may depend on who you hire.

Are you looking for a junior advisor, or teaming up with another senior advisor? In both cases, success begins with clarity.

Teaming with a senior advisor

When joining forces with another experienced professional, you need to have clarity around why you are merging your businesses. What do you both hope to gain from the partnership?

“The secret to success is to have no secrets,” says Darren Coleman, Senior Vice President, Private Client Group, Portfolio Manager at Coleman Wealth of Raymond James Ltd. “That can be a little exposing, but in the end your bravery and honesty will lead to trust and a deeper understanding of how to be successful together.”

Often people gravitate to someone else like them. But unless you are hiring an advisor as part of your succession plan, what you don’t want is another you. Instead, try to find someone who complements you.

“It’s like a marriage. The best partnerships often occur when there is a defined difference in style and skills.”

So, if you’re a rainmaker whose dynamic people skills make you good at courting high net worth clients, it might work well to join forces with a great technician who prefers analyzing and planning portfolios. Or, if you’re strong on the investment side, you may decide someone with another area of specialization, such as an insurance expert, would round out your client offering.

Begin with the end

Whoever your new partner is, begin the relationship by discussing how you will  handle the problems that could arise.

Who is responsible for which duties? Where are the gaps and how will you fill them? What will be the reporting structure of current or future staff? What happens when you disagree? How will you resolve it?

It may sound pessimistic, but your onboarding process should include a plan for how to get out, says Darren. Set a trial time period after which you’ll assess whether to continue or not, and spell out in advance how the business would be dissolved and the assets divided.

“Discussing and agreeing up front, before problems arise and emotions run high, can help you part on good terms, should that be the necessary outcome,” he says.

Staffing up with a junior

Hiring a junior advisor, whether they are fresh from school or have a few years of experience, can be a real asset, but requires a lengthier and more in-depth onboarding process.

Clarity in this case means defining the new advisor’s roles and responsibilities, setting short and long term goals, prioritizing tasks and confirming how performance and progress will be evaluated.

Be prepared to spend significant amounts of time in the first few weeks getting the new hire up to speed on all aspects of your business, including day-to-day operations and processes, products, compliance, client service and marketing.

“Don’t neglect the more subtle aspects that are the hallmark of your individual business, and which may elude a less experienced person,” says Darren. This includes “softer” skills such as communication style.

With a junior team member, a slow, steady transition and a gradual increase in responsibility are key for success. Training a new advisor is an iterative process. Mistakes are part of growth, but as long as you are diligent with training and feedback and there is steady improvement, you’ll both be on track to success.

Be persistent

Although working with another advisor adds to the complexity of your operation, it can certainly enrich you both in many ways, and help your business grow bigger and stronger.

Do you have the essential tools to successfully onboard a new advisor? 

Darren Coleman is Senior Vice President, Private Client Group, Portfolio Manager at Coleman Wealth of Raymond James Ltd. The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Raymond James. This article is for information only. Raymond James Ltd. is a member of Canadian Investor Protection Fund.

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