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Resilient advice firms recognise that their staff are not only their biggest cost in the business, they are also their biggest asset, and pose their biggest risk.

Just as your client value proposition (CVP) defines what your clients will pay you for, your employee value proposition (EVP) is what will attract and retain quality people. In the midst of a global skills shortage, applying a conscious focus to invest in your biggest asset and build your EVP is imperative.

With the contraction of the financial advice talent pool, all staff are in demand, not just advisers. Recruiters are actively looking at your people (on LinkedIn and by other means) and they’re reaching out to them, especially if it is well known that you run a quality business.

This is not a fact to be fearful of, rather to ensure that when (not if) your people are headhunted, they have no interest in exploring what is on offer. If they do, you can at least ensure they don’t feel undervalued by earning a lot less than they’re offered by a complete stranger.

The basics 

There are a few very basic elements to looking after your people:

  • The most basic is to pay well. Successful firms regularly reassess salaries and benefits for all team members, understanding that the monetary – as well as opportunity and time cost – to recruit and train new replacements is significant. Paying at or above market rates to high performing staff is the preference to losing a team member over wages and bearing the loss of knowledge and expertise out of the business; only to have to pay the extra salary to recruit someone new and then incur all the cost and downtime to bring them up to speed;
  • Conduct regular staff reviews, providing opportunities to discuss performance and career enhancement and quality training opportunities; and
  • Hold everyone to a high standard – resilient firms value their excellent staff by not enabling poor performance or behaviour by anyone. All staff have really clear expectations of them – clear KPIs, behaviours and values. Poor performance or attitudes are addressed swiftly.

Resilient firms go beyond the basics when it comes to looking after their people, recognising that culture and other benefits play a role in keeping staff happy and engaged.

Management strategies for high performing, harmonious teams:

  • Leaders ensure trust and psychological safety are always present in their teams, and encourage their people to contribute to the continuous improvement of both the workplace and their client services;
  • Owners share their vision of what they’re building in the business and get contribution to the design of the business plan;
  • A focus on leadership – key people throughout the business play an active role in the leadership team (not just the owner);
  • Culture is built with intention, they regularly and openly discuss their values and expected behaviours. They conduct regular get-togethers (live or virtual) to build mutual trust and comfort, and they look after their people – customising their incentives, off-sites, social events to suit the personality of the business as well as personalities and lifestyles of the team;
  • Staff morale and engagement is tracked and uplifted if necessary – in a structured way – seeking staff feedback in surveys and in discussion;
  • Genuinely enhance the health and wellbeing of their team (be that sharing self-care training, providing mental health support, providing healthy food and exercise options, etc.);
  • Help all staff (not just advisers), understand the importance of the work they do and see the positive impact they have on your clients. Seeing proof that they do purposeful work will help alleviate the frustration that often comes with over-regulated, admin-heavy roles;
  • As much as is possible, a flexible working environment is provided, i.e. hours, location, etc.;
  • Career opportunities – not only in expanding an individual’s role to meet their career aspirations, but also providing training and development in every role; and

Bringing in new talent to the business is handled effectively and everyone benefits from bringing in fresh ideas, skills and capacity to the team. Personality, attitude and shared values are considered as important as skills and experience when recruiting new people, and systems and processes are well-documented so as to streamline their induction and training. Roles are structured and communicated well to best support and leverage the existing team.


Article written by Sue Viskovic, and originally appeared in Professional Planner, January 23, 2023.