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How To Make Better Hires

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How To Make Better Hires

July 15, 2014

by Beverly Flaxington

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Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.
Dear Bev,

We just fired the fourth operations manager in six years. I find it tough to believe that a simple role like this can be so hard, but we’ve had no luck in keeping someone for the long haul. My partner thinks we need to hire an expensive recruiter. I don’t agree. Can paying someone 30% of the salary plus bonus (the recruiter’s fee) to identify the right person really make a difference?

George S.


Dear George,

Having spent some of my career as an executive recruiter, I am going to have to say that in many cases the 30% is well deserved! Is it the right thing in this situation? I’m honestly not sure. You will want to pose a few questions to yourself and your partner before you decide to hire an outside recruiter.

Are you both clear and on the same page about what this role should be and the requirements you are seeking? Have you identified, in writing, what success looks like? Are you hiring only an operations manager, or are you throwing in other responsibilities, such as administrative assistant, client service person, etc.? Is the term “manager” accurate – does the person have management responsibilities, or are they doing all of the operations work themselves? Do you have a clear process internally for evaluating and hiring applicants?

Where is the misfit happening? Have you reviewed the four people who were fired to identify any commonalities in the problems they faced?

I think before you start working with an outside recruiter, if you need to do so, the two of you should sit down and ask these questions. Whenever a firm tells me they have made more than one mistake in hiring for the same role, I always think there is something wrong with the role definition, with the expectations for the person in the role or with the hiring process. Even the best recruiter will need you to have defined these things before he or she can help you. Spend time with your partner doing some detective work before you start to fill this position for the fifth time.

Dear Bev,

I am struggling to keep a positive attitude about closing new business. I’ve been at my current firm for 7 months and had a great first couple of months. We have a good system here that generates leads, but in the last five months, I’ve had a lot of prospects come to the table but have had no one sign the papers. I know business can be cyclical, but I am really depressed. I keep telling myself to snap out of it, but it doesn’t work. My boss is supportive and positive about my activities, so I’m not in trouble — just in my own mind!

Natalie D.


Dear Natalie,

We can be our own best friends and our own worst enemies – sometimes within the same internal conversation! Having spent a great deal of my career in sales, I can certainly understand that the highs are good and the lows are, well, low. Unfortunately, as you are learning, the lows are a reality of the process. You simply cannot close everyone all of the time. When choosing a financial advisor, people can have many reasons to drag out or delay the process. As long as you are doing the right things, the new sales will come. In the meantime, let’s work on your attitude.

Here are three things I recommend to clients for when they need to stay positive:

  1. Make a list each day of three things you did well that day. It doesn’t have to be “the close.” It could be a good conversation you had, an insight you gained or a self-improvement step you took. Write them down. Read them before you to go bed that night and again when you wake up in the morning. Remain watchful of what you are doing well.
  2. Change your self-talk. You don’t have to become a cheerleader for yourself (although that can be helpful sometimes!), but just normalize the talk. Instead of “What’s wrong with me, why aren’t I closing any of these?” say “Sales is a cycle. I will have up times and down times. I just have to keep doing the right things.” When you catch yourself saying those negative things, stop and shift the talk to something more neutral.
  3. Find joy in other activities. Deliberately do things that you enjoy, such as having lunch with an old friend, going to the gym more often or talking to someone who is positive and supportive of you. Don’t stay stuck. Move into positive things to help shift your attitude.

It is hard to stay up when sales are down, but this is also what separates mediocre salespeople from highly successful ones.

Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995; in 2008 she co-founded Advisors Trusted Advisor to offer dedicated practice management resources to advisors, planners and wealth managers. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate students Leadership & Social Responsibility. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).

She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.

Remember, if you have a question or comment, send it to [email protected].

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