A Road Map for Hir­ing Top Tal­ent

Your cur­rent su­per­star em­ploy­ees hold the se­crets to mak­ing fu­ture cru­cial hires, Kelli Cruz says.

Financial Planning - - CONTENT - By Kelli Cruz

Your cur­rent su­per­star em­ploy­ees hold the se­crets to mak­ing fu­ture cru­cial hires.

Firmwide core com­pe­ten­cies are a firm’s main strengths or strate­gic ad­van­tages.

JUST AS AD­VIS­ERS ARE AL­WAYS ON the look­out for their next great client, they should also be keep­ing an eye out for the best and bright­est peo­ple to join their team.

But how can you know which hires are best for you — and your clients?

You can start by think­ing about your cur­rent team and the su­per­stars you al­ready have in place. Then start a list of which traits sep­a­rate them from the rest of your team.

Next, sit down with these em­ploy­ees and think about the an­swers to the ques­tions be­low. Fi­nally, cre­ate a pro­file and plan for find­ing the best can­di­dates to fit your firm.

Where did they come from? Where was the em­ployee work­ing be­fore? Did they work for a com­peti­tor, or did they change ca­reers? Were they a less-ex­pe­ri­enced hire, such as a col­lege re­cruit or a sum­mer in­tern?

In other words, what back­ground and ex­pe­ri­ence seems to be the best fit for a suc­cess­ful hire in your firm?

Re­cently I went through this process with a client who was re­cruit­ing for an ad­viser po­si­tion. He de­ter­mined the most suc­cess­ful hire was a ca­reer changer — specif­i­cally, some­one who had been a CPA. The hire had a CPA back­ground, and had com­pleted the CFP exam prior to join­ing the firm.

How did they get here? How did your star em­ploy­ees con­nect with the firm (e.g., job post­ing, re­cruiter or client’s re­fer­ral)? Which so­cial me­dia sites do they visit most fre­quently? This will help you to de­ter­mine where to tar­get can­di­dates on­line.

Why did they come here? What at­tracted them most to the com­pany and/ or to the role? This will help you to iden­tify how best to po­si­tion the firm and job open­ings to can­di­dates.

What are their val­ues? Which char­ac­ter­is­tics and traits do they have in com­mon? What are two or three core val­ues or be­liefs that they all share?

The last two ques­tions get to the most im­por­tant part of the cri­te­ria for mak­ing a great hire. By de­ter­min­ing the qual­i­ties and at­tributes of your most suc­cess­ful hires, you will be able to screen for what is not train­able — val­ues, work ethic and at­ti­tude.

A new hire can learn the in­dus­try and the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the po­si­tion over time. How­ever, it is dif­fi­cult to train some­one how to be trust­wor­thy, de­pend­able and eth­i­cal.


Iden­tify the core com­pe­ten­cies for each role in the firm and your firmwide core com­pe­ten­cies to en­sure you are get­ting the right DNA match for a suc­cess­ful hire.

Firmwide core com­pe­ten­cies are a firm’s main strengths and strate­gic ad­van­tages. These can in­clude the com­bi­na­tion of pooled knowl­edge and tech­ni­cal ca­pac­i­ties that al­low an ad­vi­sory to be com­pet­i­tive.

I like to think of or­ga­ni­za­tion­wide com­pe­ten­cies as what makes up the firm cul­ture. Ask what are the val­ues and char­ac­ter­is­tics

of the peo­ple who fit well within the firm?

The fol­low­ing are ex­am­ples of firmwide core com­pe­ten­cies:

• High stan­dards: Ex­pects per­sonal per­for­mance and team per­for­mance to be noth­ing short of the best.

Work ethic: Possesses a strong will­ing­ness to work hard — and some­times long — hours to get the job done.

In­tegrity and hon­esty: Does not cut cor­ners eth­i­cally. Earns trust and main­tains con­fi­dences. Does what is right, not just what is po­lit­i­cally ex­pe­di­ent.

Fol­lows through: Lives up to ver­bal and writ­ten com­mit­ments, re­gard­less of per­sonal cost.

Un­der­stands team­work: Reaches out to peers and co­op­er­ates with their man­ager to es­tab­lish an over­all col­lab­o­ra­tive work­ing re­la­tion­ship.

En­tre­pre­neur­ial at­ti­tude: Demon­strates abil­ity to work suc­cess­fully in a small com­pany en­vi­ron­ment. Role-spe­cific core com­pe­ten­cies are the at­tributes that em­ploy­ees need to carry out their work ef­fec­tively. Here are some:

• Or­ga­ni­za­tion and plan­ning: Plans, or­ga­nizes, sched­ules and bud­gets in an ef­fi­cient and pro­duc­tive man­ner.

An­a­lyt­i­cal skills: Able to struc­ture and process qual­i­ta­tive or quan­ti­ta­tive data and draw in­sight­ful con­clu­sions.

At­ten­tion to de­tail: Does not let im­por­tant de­tails slip through the cracks or de­rail a project or process.

Per­sis­tence: Demon­strates te­nac­ity and will­ing­ness to go the dis­tance to get some­thing done.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion: Speaks and writes clearly and ar­tic­u­lately with­out be­ing overly ver­bose. Main­tains this stan­dard in all forms of writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion, in­clud­ing email.

Flex­i­bil­ity/adapt­abil­ity: Able to ad­just quickly to chang­ing pri­or­i­ties. Copes ef­fec­tively with com­plex­ity and change. Once you have es­tab­lished the strengths and char­ac­ter­is­tics of your most suc­cess­ful em­ploy­ees, I sug­gest us­ing be­hav­ioral-based in­ter­view ques­tions to screen for what you • • • • • • • • • • can­not train them to do.

The the­ory be­hind be­hav­ioral in­ter­view­ing is that “the most ac­cu­rate pre­dic­tor of fu­ture per­for­mance is past per­for­mance in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion.”


This method of struc­tur­ing the in­ter­view ques­tions will help you be­gin to see if there is a real match with the job and, most im­por­tant, the cul­ture of your firm. For in­stance, the fol­low­ing ques­tions to ask your star em­ploy­ees help probe deeper into fol­low­ing through on com­mit­ments, team­work and dis­play­ing a fit with the role:

• Tell me about a time you agreed to do some­thing for a client when you weren’t sure you would have the time. Why did you tell them you would help them and what was the out­come?

How do you keep co­work­ers, your man­ager and clients re­as­sured that you will meet a de­ter­mined dead­line?

What from your past pro­fes­sional or per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences in­di­cates you will have suc­cess in the role of an ad­viser? What hob­bies and/or ac­tiv­i­ties are you in­volved in out­side of work? This helps to de­ter­mine how the can­di­date bal­ances their work and per­sonal life, and if their work ethic is a match with the en­vi­ron­ment of your firm.

To en­sure you are hir­ing can­di­dates who match your ideal em­ployee pro­file, you can use per­son­al­ity as­sess­ments to pre­dict how an em­ployee will per­form in the role.

Third-party assess­ment tools such as Kolbe, DISC and Strengths­finder are use­ful in­di­ca­tors of how well-suited a can­di­date is for the job in ques­tion. Many ad­vis­ers use a fi­nan­cial plan­ning case study or a mock client meet­ing to gauge a can­di­date’s skill at manag­ing client re­la­tion­ships.

Ul­ti­mately, hav­ing a strong in­ter­view process will en­sure the high­est level of suc­cess in se­lect­ing a new em­ployee. Pro­fil­ing your top tal­ent and then us­ing those cri­te­ria to de­fine qual­i­fied can­di­dates means you will max­i­mize the fit be­tween the per­son, the job and your or­ga­ni­za­tion.

To en­sure you are hir­ing can­di­dates who match your ideal em­ployee pro­file, you can use per­son­al­ity as­sess­ments to pre­dict how an em­ployee will per­form in the role.

Kelli Cruz is a Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning colum­nist and the founder of Cruz Con­sult­ing Group in San Fran­cisco. Fol­low her on Twit­ter at @Kel­li­cruzsf.

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