Recruiting quality advisors to deliver quality advice
Editor’s Note: This is the first of a three-part series to help prioritize the burning issues that face credit union leaders, offering actionable tips to help grow wealth management departments.
Among the top concerns keeping credit union leaders up at night are emerging technologies, increasing non-interest income and CEO succession planning. While we help credit union CEOs solve these problems, in our day-to-day discussions within CU wealth management departments, the conversations often turn to their biggest threat: recruiting and retaining quality financial advisors.
Having placed dozens of financial advisors at credit unions over the years, which has included candidate screening and assisting in the offer and negotiation processes, you might say Priority Financial Group has served as a “matchmaker” between quality advisors and credit unions who care about the member and employee experience. Credit unions should be proud of their wealth management team, as doing it right can lead to better relationships with younger members, more deposits and higher non-interest income.
Today’s digital-first credit union member has come to expect convenient mobile experiences and up-front transparency of fees with a high degree of personalization. The modern wealth management client is no different—with an added layer of expectations to include robo-advice and/or choices in human-led virtual interactions.
Baby Boomers and millennials alike are nudging credit union wealth management departments to achieve the sweet spot between digital channels and real financial advisor interaction—both with a focus on providing a delightful member experience.
It’s imperative that today’s quality financial advisor embrace digital tools while prioritizing personalization and building intergenerational relationships. Today’s quality financial advisors serve clients’ financial planning needs from a comprehensive, long-term point of view, helping them achieve their financial goals.
Recruiting high-quality financial advisors who act as fiduciaries and place clients’ best interests first, may seem daunting. However, given our experience with the recruiting (as well as training and retaining) of quality advisors, I’d like to share three tips to help you and your team best serve your credit union wealth management clients.
1) Advisor Assessment: Ask the Right Questions
Something to keep in mind (and I realize this may sound like I’m stating the obvious), this role is different from anyone else’s at the credit union. Along with HR, have someone who is experienced in recruiting financial advisors be part of the interview process; we have found that knowing the right questions to ask and speaking the same investment industry language is the key to improving results. Including someone with a proven track record of recruiting quality advisors will save you time and money, and lead to better outcomes, faster. The range of questions falls into three broad categories: character, competencies and culture.
There are many types of financial advisors, so start with clearly understanding their core competencies. What do they enjoy doing most? Ask service-oriented questions about how they will educate members and help them to implement their financial plan. How well-versed are they in financial literacy and do they enjoy helping younger members? While you assess how well they align with your credit union’s culture, the person with industry expertise will be able to ask the next level of each of these questions to gain more clarity.
2) Compensation: Design the Right Plan
Compensation is not only a major factor in quality advisor attraction, retention and turnover, but also a consideration that’s indicative of your organizational culture. There’s been much research on the topic of compensation strategy that points to the need for companies to align their pay practices to their values. The importance of using pay as a strategic talent optimization tool is no different for your wealth management department. In short, compensation matters. Paying well means you can attract quality talent and keep them around for longer.
PFG serves as a third-party registered investment advisor for credit unions, and we have made it a best practice to place RIA-only financial advisors and Certified Financial Planners™. Compensation plans for these individuals provide a higher base salary, so their emphasis is on quality advisory with credit union members, not a commission based on sales of certain financial products. Also, as part of any advisor compensation plan, it’s important to set mutually agreed-upon goals that are reviewed regularly and adjusted as necessary. Poorly designed compensation plans can lead to poor advisor behavior.
3) Digital Presence and Platform: How Well Is Your Wealth Management Department Represented on Your Website?
This is the No. 1 place to convey the importance of your financial advisors to your members’ financial futures. Does your site make it easy to find an advisor and schedule an appointment, both on mobile and desktop? Does it showcase your advisors and introduce them to prospective clients? Any top-notch financial advisor you’re interested in recruiting is looking at your website. They want to know how you promote (and prioritize) your financial planning and wealth management services.
Through PFG’s independent RIA, we offer multiple custodian options, including Charles Schwab, Fidelity and AssetMark. As a result, we have found that when it comes to attracting quality advisors, the best ones are interested in these industry-leading custodians. Experienced advisors know the value of these easy-to-use, fully integrated platforms to their investor clients. Advisors also know that using them frees up their time to focus on their clients, delivering sound financial advice and solutions based on their personal needs and goals.
Attracting and retaining quality financial advisors to grow your credit union’s wealth management department doesn’t have to feel like finding a needle in a haystack. Don’t underestimate the power of developing a thoughtful recruiting process that incorporates these key considerations. Put that process into play and watch your wealth management grow!
Mike Prior is the CEO of Priority Financial Group, a third-party registered investment advisor (TPRIA) serving credit unions and financial advisors. He has decades of experience in the securities industry, as well as dedicated expertise helping financial advisors and credit unions achieve their unique goals. Mike is a pioneer in introducing the Charles Schwab and Fidelity advisory platforms to credit unions, and a recognized industry expert in implementing a best practices approach to taking credit union investment programs and advisor practices to their next level. For more information, visit Pfgteam.com, call 800.405.8850 or contact Mike directly at Priorm@pfgteam.com.
Advisory services offered by PFG Advisors. Priority Financial Group, Securities offered through Securities America, member FINRA/SIPC. PFG Advisors, PFG Wills & Trusts Document Preparation, and Securities America are separate entities.