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Scouting for Recruits.

Byline: Karen Wittwer

Summary paragraph: Enrollers can make good advisers, advisers good support staff, and your best source for referrals-what adviser firms look to first when seeking new hires-could be right down the hall

Enrollers can make good advisers, advisers good support staff, and your best source for referrals-what adviser firms look to first when seeking new hires-could be right down the hall. So say senior retirement industry executives, who shared this wisdom and more about recruiting good staff for your practice.

Steve Cunha, founder of the retirement plan services department at Baystate Financial Services LLC in Wakefield, Massachusetts, has a particular sweet spot in mind when hiring new advisers: good skills plus a minimum of three to five years working directly with qualified retirement plans. "I look for someone who's been around long enough to know he wants to be in this business, to understand the overall picture, but not so long he's accumulated bad habits you have to 'untrain' him of," Cunha says. 401(k) plan enrollers-i.e., educational specialists-tired of the road warrior lifestyle can be a good fit, he says.

Similarly, advisers in your own firm who discover "they're just not the hunter type, not really the marketing type-they have more of a support, team-member personality" may excel in other roles, Cunha says. He seeks referrals from co-workers but also from DCIO [defined contribution investment only] wholesalers, who are situated to know of advisers and well-credentialed call center representatives who might want to switch.

The advantages of such referrals are many. "You can speak to their former employer, get testimonials, references. They've got licenses; you can check their background. So there's a track to run on there," Cunha says.

Perhaps for those reasons, 87% of respondents to PLANADVISER's recent Recruiting Techniques Survey favor recommendations when hiring, well over their second choice-social media-at 33%.

Whatever way Russell Warye finds recruits, he puts character and common values first. The president of Benefit Partners Financial Group LLC in Libertyville, Illinois, then looks for consistent success in school or former jobs. Candidates should also be well-spoken and present nicely, he says. "If they have these characteristics, I don't need experience; the rest I can train."

Advisory firm Janney Montgomery Scott, which combines experience and character in its ideal-employee profile, also stresses fit, says Jerry Lombard, president of the firm's private client group in Philadelphia. Candidates spend a day at the firm, meeting with everyone, from executives to support staff. The person must be collegial, "because that's the culture we believe in," Lombard says.

While firms are assessing candidates, that exercise is often mutual. Because of the growing need to replace advisers who are retiring, competition, especially for young recruits, is strong. "What they're looking for in an employer is different than, say, my Baby Boom generation," Lombard says. This means a firm should adopt a flexible outlook, a willingness to change over time. For example, "[Millennials] want to work for diverse organizations, so we're making sure we're an employer of choice when it comes to talented young people," he says.

Janney's approach appears to be working. "We seem to have no trouble finding good talent," he says.
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Date:Apr 1, 2016
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