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Cultivating Your Own Star Players

While it might seem counterintuitive for someone in my line of work to say this, I wholeheartedly agree with the notion that businesses should focus on growing their own talent as part of a long-term strategy. Cultivating internal talent boosts retention rates, a critical issue for any business.

Interestingly, this is the approach that has been taken by the football team I support, Bristol City.  It successfully brings up its young players through the academy and has been praised by football pundits for doing so. The club’s vision is ‘a first team squad built on a core of home-grown talent’. It’s a slow, long-term strategy, and, as a supporter, I’d much rather the owner splash the cash and spend millions on top players, obviously!

In the financial advice profession, where there is a shortage of Financial Planners, companies are trying to do the same. They are bringing in individuals as administrators with a view to them progressing to paraplanners and then Financial Planners.

However, very few financial advice firms have the finance and infrastructure to offer a financial adviser training scheme. Even some of the largest, who have the funding and scale, do not have an interest in offering it due to short-term goals.

Today, for an individual wishing to enter the financial advice profession, barriers to entry are high, and training is expensive and not usually fully funded. Too few are offered the opportunity to “earn while you learn.”  The traditional entry route is now largely outdated, so a few small financial advice businesses might occasionally train a valued member of their administration staff to become an adviser, but this is relatively rare.

The slightly larger, more ambitious companies tend to be in a hurry. They prefer to recruit a proven adviser than to train their own. Until quite recently they would poach from their local competitors and hope that the adviser could bring some clients with them to cover their salary costs.

Conversely, as the value of financial advice businesses has risen, they have sought to protect their client banks by employing staff rather than using self-employed advisers, writing non-compete or non-deal clauses into their financial adviser contracts, so this approach rarely works now.

At Paul Harper Search, we recruit trainee researchers and put them through our in-house training programme and official industry training by our trade body, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).  Once the training has been completed, they progress to become Search Consultants.  It works well for us because we build a team that is bought into our mission and values, is culturally aligned with our business, and understands our strict processes. This appears to be paying off, as we have recently been shortlisted for the ‘Demonstrating High Standards in Recruitment Award’ at the REC 2023 Awards.

However, there are roles, particularly senior roles, where you need to attract talent, where you’ve lost a key member of staff, or you need a member of staff where the skills required can’t be developed in-house.  It’s on these occasions that we can help.

At the end of the day, no strategy is without risks, including the possibility that an employee in whom you've invested might eventually leave; the benefits of a balanced approach are manifold. By blending targeted external recruitment for immediate needs with a long-term perspective that develops existing employees, you're setting the stage for a loyal and highly skilled workforce.


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