Developing an Effective Advisor Training Program

In a previous article, I wrote about the hiring process. Now that you have found a qualified candidate, how do you get her integrated into the team?

As a financial professional, you are completely engrossed in running your practice. You didn’t get into this business to wear the human resource hat. Yet, assuming you are already a top-notch advisor and don’t need training yourself, the opportunity for growth of the practice sits squarely on the shoulders of dedicated and competent team members.

The vision most advisors have for themselves is to spend the majority of their time speaking with clients, prospects and centers of influence.

However, there is much more to running a successful practice. In order to reach this vision, other team members need to be involved.

Below are some suggestions for how to best add a new member to the team.

Have a detailed job description

Make sure you know what you want. A detailed job description is a must. If you have other team members, involve them in developing the job description.

Consider this an opportunity to rearrange job duties. When one of my advisors was looking to add a team member, one of the existing team members spoke up and said that she would like to add and eliminate some duties from her job description. She was thrilled to add the responsibilities in which she was interested and eliminate the responsibilities she didn’t enjoy.

Have a plan

Provide information to your new team member on topics such as:

  • General information regarding your company and the office
  • Office policies and procedures
  • Workflow systems
  • Training opportunities
  • Opportunities for advancement

Remember that people learn by doing, making mistakes and hearing stories. Keep this in mind when training someone new.

If possible, have your new employee shadow a veteran employee. You will likely want to do this sometime after the first week so that the new employee can gain a better knowledge of her job duties, be better able to retain what she is learning, and ask better questions.

It is helpful for a new employee to see how everything she will be doing ties into your practice and actively contributes to making your practice a success.

After she has been on the payroll for a couple of weeks, consider having her sit in on a few client meetings. Seeing what goes on in meetings helps her understand the complete process.

Prior to day one

If required, instruct her on how to get her fingerprints taken. Be sure her new hire paperwork is completed well before the start date. Be sure to give her a copy of the employee manual.

Whether this is the first time you are hiring staff, or you already have staff, it is imperative that you have all of the most recent versions of federal and state employee rules and regulations posted in a prominent area. A break room or supply room is the most common area for posting. Visit for a current listing of requirements.

If a computer needs to be ordered, do it as soon as possible.

If necessary, order business cards and stationery.

Be sure that the work space is stocked appropriately with office supplies.

If the new person will be meeting with clients and giving advice or will be a part of portfolio management, schedule your prominent wholesalers to meet with her within the first few weeks.

Make sure the new hire is informed about the dress code, when to arrive for her first day, where to park, and with whom to check in.

Day one

The majority of the first day should be spent getting your new employee acclimated to the office. If you are able to get through all of the information quickly, you may be able to begin training on some of the easier tasks for which she will be responsible.

Have her added to the office directory and to the voice mail directory.

For a special touch, host a welcome lunch for the new person and invite the entire office.

Topics to Cover:

  1. Introduce her to other office staff members and advisors. As you introduce each staff member, make sure to give a brief overview of what each person does and the type of questions each person can answer if she encounters issues she cannot solve on her own. Provide her with a directory of telephone extensions and office numbers for everyone located in the office. A list of frequently used numbers is also imperative.
  1. Give a tour of the office to familiarize her with the office layout and be sure to include the following areas:
    1. Copy room
    2. Supply room
    3. Kitchen facilities
    4. Restrooms
    5. Advisor offices
    6. Advisor staff areas
    7. Incoming mail slots
    8. Corporate office, express and USPS outgoing mail
    9. New business box
    10. Storage area
    11. Client files
    12. Back stairway, emergency exits and any other evacuation information
  1. Familiarize her with your office and her personal workspace.
    1. Phones, including any long distance codes for dialing out
    2. Copier/Scanner/Fax machine (if separate from the main office copy room)
    3. Computer and printer
    4. Files
  1. Make sure to provide any applicable keys (office, desk, file cabinets, restroom), and security codes/cards. Provide information about after hours building procedures and security systems.
  1. Be sure to cover working standards and procedures.
    1. Work hours (beginning/ending times, breaks, lunches)
    2. Overtime policy and requirements
    3. Time off (vacation, sick days, holidays)
    4. How to complete time cards
    5. How to request time off
    6. Paydays and procedures for being paid
    7. Salary increases and bonus structure, if applicable
    8. Benefits
    9. Personal calls, personal computer activities
    10. Review of dress code
    11. Employee parking
    12. Schedule of one-to-one and team meetings
    13. Any other office specific information
  1. Explain the organization.
    1. Mission statement of company and advisor
    2. Background of advisor
    3. Leadership team (if applicable)
    4. Your role as an advisor, key responsibilities and the type of client base you serve
    5. Her role as your team member (job description, model week, daily task list, master calendar)
    6. Discuss a training plan for items on her job description, beginning with the most important tasks, including a timeline for mastery of each task
    7. Begin a discussion on financial planning and the investment process

Day two and beyond

Day two and subsequent days will be more specific to the job duties required of the new hire and are too varied to go into detail here.

Although not everyone you hire will remain, when you do hire someone, assume this person will be with you for life, and treat her accordingly. Make the commitment to invest the time and energy to train her, help her develop and be successful, support her efforts, keep her challenged, and help her take pride in her accomplishments.

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