RIA Hiring Best Practices 2020 and Beyond

September 1, 2020 - Stephen Van de Wetering

COVID-19 has changed the way RIA hiring gets done, and with that comes new opportunities to attract and retain top talent.

RIA Hiring_Desk and Laptop

The pandemic, along with prolonged stay-at-home orders and recommendations, has changed the way the Registered Investment Advisors look at hiring.

With an increasing number of firms continuing to work remotely, in-person hiring is less likely, as one example.

With that comes new approaches to hiring and recruiting, and there is opportunity for RIAs to access a larger pool of talent they otherwise wouldn’t have thought about.

RIA Hiring Strategies

Remote Hiring

With many firms continuing remote work policies, or at least splitting time between the office and home, in-person hiring is a less likely prospect.

Previous hiring procedures like meeting in the office and shaking hands aren’t as socially accepted in the age of social distancing.

The recruiting process, the interviews, and ultimately the hiring would have to occur over phone or video chat.

New Hiring Opportunities

A great thing about remote work is the ability to work from anywhere. It also means you can hire from anywhere.

In the past, investment firms often had to rely on local talent in their geographical area.

This worked well for wealth and asset management companies in places like New York and San Francisco, with a large talent pool in the surrounding radius.

But for a small RIA in Omaha or Nashville, hiring options have been limited with smaller populations. Not anymore.

In an increasingly remote working world, investment management firms can cast their hiring net as wide as they choose.

If they generate revenue by bringing in new clients and increasing assets under management, so what if they don’t live within a drivable commute to the office? Take advantage of casting that wide net.

Giving employees that flexibility to work remotely, allowing them to achieve better work-life balance, will be positive for building loyalty.

Of course, keeping remote employees engaged and accountable is just as important.

Leverage all online job postings

As part of the remote hiring effort, RIAs need to successfully advertise themselves, getting the right message to the right eyeballs. They need to pinpoint their target audience and identify the places they can be found.

That can be trade publications, employment agencies, online job postings (ZipRecruiter can help a lot), news outlets, social media sites, etc.

If the new role is truly remote, make that known in the job posting, and a wider net of qualified candidates will apply.

Training

Comprehensive, ongoing training programs will help create a bench of talent capable of carrying out those all-important functions (assuming you can hold on to your employees). As positions arise, RIAs will then be able to find and promote people with the right attributes internally.

And with the industry and its associated demands evolving rapidly, as seen in the wake of COVID-19, it’s vital the staff have up-to-date skills, knowledge and experience. This is less risky than hiring from outside as existing staff already seen their work product.

Similarly, hiring interns who can be trained and moved into a full-time position is another consideration.

In one of our recent blog posts about investment management jobs where humans are needed the most, there are functions that existing team members can be trained on, particularly in the area of sales and marketing.

Raise Salaries

One option is to pay more, assuming the resources are there. Attracting both those promising new recruits with the right skillsets will, to an inevitable degree, come down to money.

Job seekers can easily check Glassdoor or Salary.com to compare advisory firms’ compensation packages. It’s also good for hiring managers to see what competitor RIAs offer their employees, so they can position salary and benefit offers accordingly.

Headhunting

If RIAs can’t train and promote from within, they can always steal.

Poaching skilled staff from rival organizations is commonplace across the industry, and it goes with the territory of being in the finance and investments space.

Of course, firms may need to offer an attractive pay and benefits package, and if firms are insistent on a new hire physically relocating, the package should be attractive enough to make it worth the move.

Investment managers probably need to find and hire a good headhunting firm too (another cost). Consider the best professional recruiting and executive recruiting firms from Forbes.

Hiring Third Parties

Not all hires have to be in-house. RIAs can employ third-party groups that specialize in areas outside RIA internal core competencies.

For example, operations work needs to get done, but operational activity doesn’t generate revenue.

Founding partners start their advisory firm to make money. Money is made through good investing and attracting clients. Nobody starts a business to focus on areas that don’t generate revenue, and money is not made through time- and resource-consuming operational and admin work.

Leveraging a team that specializes in middle- and back-office operations, is a consideration. Third parties like these have the resources and expertise to perform the work more efficiently and at a lower cost for RIAs.

RIAs Have Options When It Comes to Hiring

RIA hiring approaches have certainly changed as a result of the pandemic, and for the better in many ways.

Firms realize that if remote work goes well enough, they can cast a wide net that is not limited to physical proximity to the office, and they can find great talent anywhere.

Although COVID-19 has resulted in various forms of hardship, RIAs can become stronger and more efficient by training internal staff to handle other tasks, as well as leverage third-party expertise where appropriate.

Finding the best talent may cost a little more upfront by hiring headhunters or increasing compensation, but in a remote working world where it’s increasingly possible to find the best from anywhere, it may be worth the cost.

RIAs that embrace this new normal that COVID-19 has helped create in this new, remote work environment will do well in the long run.