Darren Varano, President of Grayling, talks about recruiting Experienced Agents in these volatile economic times.
Q. What is your opinion on recruiting in this volatile market?
A. I believe there is a tremendous opportunity for agencies and independent firms that are “Well Positioned” to attract quality advisors.
Q. What do you mean by “Well Positioned”?
A. We believe that agencies that “Wear the Glove or Possess the Five Fingers”, are well positioned to attract quality advisors. The Five Fingers are: 1) diversified product portfolio, 2) competitive compensation plan 3) marketing department or marketing systems that support the advisor in the field 4) internal and external support systems 5) leadership and direction.
Q. Can you elaborate on each of these?
Product Portfolio: It is very difficult to recruit advisors to an organization that is solely focused in a one-product culture. This is still very common with many of your traditional career companies. A balanced proprietary portfolio with both fixed and variable protection products available along with a brokerage outlet that is easy to use and navigate is ideal.
Compensation: Most companies have some form of program to attract experienced advisors. Ideally the program should have multiple parts. Competitive payouts, transition money to allow the advisor time to make the move, ERA’s are very effective. Some companies use options as a tool, which is also a very good for retention.
Marketing: There has been a trend in some of the more successful agencies and firms to build a marketing department or bring in a business development person to help create business opportunities for the advisors. A marketing department will help fill a seminar, create marketing materials, build agent websites, help with mailing campaigns or go out into the community and develop relationships.
Support Systems: Advisors do not join an agency or firm to do paperwork. They got into this business to help people, to solve problems or create solutions. If an advisor is filling out paperwork or running illustrations, they are not meeting with new clients. The staff should consist of a quality clerical team, advanced sales or case prep/design team, compliance person, specialists, etc.
Leadership: The captain of the ship is the key to all of this. Candidates are looking for leadership and motivational skills. Your agency or firm must have a true mission that can be articulated.
Q. It sounds as though your five-finger theory will also help with retaining the advisors that you have.
A. Yes it will. The reasons an experienced advisor would join your firm are the same reasons why they would leave. If your agency possesses all five fingers, it will absolutely reflect in your overall agency retention.
Q. Along with your recruiting programs, do you also help agencies to develop these attributes?
A. We do. We will help an agency to identify their specific value proposition and determine what else needs to be done to maximize your ability to recruit and retain. We will also help our customer with delivering the message to new recruits and just as important positioning it with their existing staff.