Three Best Practices For Onboarding New Staff to an Advisory Firm
Practice Management

Three Best Practices For Onboarding New Staff to an Advisory Firm

Three best practices for getting new team members onboarded — and one step that will help implement them. 
Tim Welsh
5 min to read
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Last month in the blog we spoke about how employee onboarding is a never-ending process. And while there's incredible value to continually revisiting and re-engaging with long-time staff, a new employee’s first days set the tone for their time at your firm — positive or negative, the experience can have a long-lasting effect on engagement, performance and retention.

Adding a new employee to your organization is a big milestone, and a sign of growth to come. Despite this, 22% of companies who were surveyed by Allied Workforce Mobility stated they have no formal onboarding processes in place. The steps you take to prepare for your next hire will not only help set them up for success, they’ll also make future onboarding easier — ultimately building up your firm’s longevity and ability to scale. 

Best Practice: Start Onboarding Before Hiring Begins

On average, it takes eight months for a new hire to reach full productivity. But what most employers don’t realize is that the onboarding process begins well before a new hire starts — in fact, it should begin even before the job is posted.

Start by determining the job’s main responsibilities and objectives; then, break those responsibilities down into detailed steps. Use these steps to map out workflows, and use those workflows to write your job description. With a clear view of your existing processes, you can communicate to your new employee what needs to be done and when, which in turn will create manageable, measurable expectations of their responsibilities.

Setting your new hire up with this business-critical information will empower them to gain responsibility faster, and quickly allow them to become an integral part of the organization. What’s more, documenting workflows across your entire organization ensures that nothing falls through the cracks when a team member offboards or goes on vacation — making it easier to swap responsibilities when needed. 

Best Practice: Understanding Your Compliance Requirements 

Depending on the tasks the new hire is expected to perform, they may be subject to various types of regulatory oversight, which in turn can leave the firm open to liability if not taken care of. Larger, SEC-registered firms may need to ensure new hires register as an IAR or as ‘supervised personnel’ depending on the degree of client contact they have. For state-registered firms, it is typically only those employees that advise or manage a client’s portfolio that need to register. However, details vary on the state-by-state basis; a long post by Chris Stanley in the Nerd’s Eye View blog goes into these considerations in more detail. 

Again, a lot of the potential risks around compliance can be mitigated with some advance planning, and by documenting the workflows a potential employee will be involved with. By doing so, you’ll gain a clearer picture of the responsibilities of the job and the skills you’re hiring for, ensuring you’re properly prepared to tackle the oversight and reporting requirements of supervised personnel. You’ll also gain a clearer picture of the associated onboarding costs, such as registration fees with the SEC, background security checks, examinations, etc.

With a top-down view of your entire processes, you will be quicker at identifying gaps and ensuring you make more intentional hiring decisions. Do your workflows include any client-facing tasks that require the onboarding of a registered investment advisor? Or do your workflows require a seasonal, back-office contractor or paraplanner? Having this knowledge at your fingertips will help you save time and money,  and ensure you’re hiring the right form of support. 

Best Practice: Retain Employees With Automated Tools

Today, 45% of millennials report feeling burned out due to their work environment. For advisory firm staff, repetitive tasks, lack of transparency and limited connection to a firm’s broader mission will all drive down employee engagement — ultimately giving talent little reason to stick around when a better offer comes their way. 

The good news is that all the work you’ve done in mapping workflows can lay the foundation for a happier, more productive work environment. Take the tasks in your workflows and assign them to a specific person or role. You can do this by creating a spreadsheet, or — better yet — you can automate it. 

Hubly’s intelligent task assignment tools automatically route workflow tasks to the right person on your team – spreading work evenly and reducing the amount of time spent delegating tasks. This will remove the need for new employees to constantly ask for direction on what to work on next; what’s more, it will offload the work required for onboarding new employees, while making them more independent as they transition into their new role. 

The Bottom Line on Better Onboarding

The 2022 Schwab RIA Benchmarking Study found that, for the first time in the report’s history, “talent is the top strategic priority for RIAs as they continue to serve existing clients and hire to support firm growth.” Given this, financial advisors must remember that happy employees don’t just appear out of nowhere — they’re shaped by employers who set them up for success.

For a closer look at how Hubly can get you there, visit our intelligent task assignment page, or download a case study here.

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