Executive SummaryWhen hiring new planners for associate planner positions, many firm owners say they want to find someone just like them; in the words of Peter Lynch, they “buy what [they] know.” It is human nature after all – we prefer staying in our comfort zone and don’t operate as well with the unknown. However, in practice this is often exactly what a firm does NOT need; if the firm owner skill set is strategic visionary, relationship manager, and primary rainmaker, then the firm should strive to find candidates with complementary skill sets to fill in gaps. Especially in a small organization, too much overlap will lead to inefficiencies. Nonetheless, some business owners choose to go this route anyway. So if you are going to hire a ‘mini-me’, what should you be aware of?
Associate Financial Advisors Should Complement, Not Mimic
Notwithstanding the consensus view from consultants that having a bunch of people in an organization with overlapping skill sets doesn’t make the most sense strategically, some firm owners decide to proceed down this road anyway, and cannot resist the temptation and desire to hire an exact copy of themselves (and to be fair, in some cases they really do need to replicate their skillset in the business for the long-term viability of the firm) . So if you do decide to hire a ‘mini-me’ – in particular, one who has an entrepreneurial and rainmaker skill set similar to yours – here are some things to be aware of:
- Candidates that have rainmaker and entrepreneur personality and skill sets similar to yours don’t need you as much as other candidates who don’t have these skills. After all, young rainmakers and entrepreneurs can always go start their own business (as you probably did at their age!)! Therefore, getting these types of candidates to come work for you can be challenging. If these candidates are true entrepreneurs (like you are), they probably either have their own firms already or will be starting one in the near future.
- Rainmaker/entrepreneur candidates are not going to be satisfied in a support advisor type role indefinitely. If your goal is simply to hire someone to do a specified job at your firm forever, there will be a mismatch; these candidate types are looking for a career, not just a job. If you can’t or won’t give them increased responsibilities, client interaction, compensation, and career satisfaction, they will look for opportunities elsewhere in no more than just a few years.
- Don’t be surprised if they push back on your ideas (which can be a good thing if done in a non-threatening professional respectful way). Although this challenge of opinions can contribute to firm growth, it can be a source of frustration for unsuspecting firm owners. For more on this, check out “Hire People Who Disagree with You” by John Baldoni. If you say you don’t want a “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” type candidate, make sure you mean it.
- An organizational chart, job description, expectations summary, compensation summary, and career track ladder should be provided to any new professional hire. However, these ‘mini me’ type candidates will be much more focused on what they have to do specifically to move to the top of the career track ladder as fast as possible. Organizations have lost a lot of good talent by simply not being able to promote them quick enough. If you go this route in your hiring, don’t get caught in the same trap – give your new planner the best chance for success, and be prepared to move them up if they achieve the goals you set. Keep in mind if you are seeking employees that will ‘think like an owner’, after a while they will likely really want to become an owner and if you can’t or don’t want to provide that, be careful what you ask for.
- What does the professional career track look like for an entry level position hire? Are the expectations and time frames reasonable for a new hire to move up the career ladder?
- How does this new hire fit in? What will they do that I don’t want to?
- Can I work with someone like me?
- What would my previous employers say it was like to manage me?
- I had to start my own firm to find my right fit – is my new ‘mini-me’ going to leave to start their own firm?