How do you retain your winning team?

Yes, we are back at this stage in the market cycle! Activity is significantly up in most advice firms, income is rising too, and many firms are looking to beef up their advice teams. Those who are recruiting are looking to pick up experienced advisers from other firms, which in turn is creating a retention challenge in these other firms.

So what can (and are) advice firms do today to keep their best people?

Recognise your best people

Might seem a bit obvious, but some business owners are afraid that they’ll rock the boat if they recognise their best people. So they say nothing and hope the winners won’t leave, which unfortunately they are likely to do if they don’t feel valued.

Yes you might have to back up this recognition with tangible benefits, but at least this is keeping you in control of keeping your best people. It also sends a clear message out to the weaker members of your team of your expectations and that you are monitoring their performance. This may make them uncomfortable and indeed these weaker team members could possible leave. This might not be what you’re looking for, but it’s a lot better than losing your best people.

Support your best people

The temptation of sales managers is to spend a disproportionate amount of time with their weaker team members; coaching them, monitoring them and trying to lift their performance. While at the same time assuming their best people are “grand” and will just continue to get on with doing a great job. A dangerous assumption.

Spend time with your best people too. While you may not be able to improve their performance by the same amount as you can for the weaker members of your team, they will appreciate all of your efforts to help them grow, even by small amounts.  And small improvements by successful people will make a big difference to your revenue numbers.

Challenge your best people

Again many managers will look for ways to challenge their weaker team members, driving them to better performance by “turning the screw”, doggedly seeking higher levels of performance from them. The level that you do this depends on the individual’s personality and the level of under-performance.

However also look for ways to challenge your best people. This should be done in a very positive way, finding ways to enthuse them, to drive them on. You might ask them to manage some difficult clients, open up new lines of business or new target markets or to take on some projects in addition to their normal responsibilities, all the while recognising these additional efforts in a fair and equitable way.

Improve your best people

Yes, you have to be prepared to pay your best people more. But money alone is not the answer. As someone else can always offer your star performers more money. So look for ways to improve them and to help them in their careers. Maybe you could look to pay for them to do more study and to help then in terms of the time required to study to become a CFP? Or if they are not interested in doing more study, maybe they would benefit from and really value time with an external mentor, funded by you? Your best people will recognise your efforts to improve them as people, and at the same time hopefully you will gain from even better performance from them.

Provide a clear career path for your best people

At the end of the day this is the most important factor in trying to keep your best people. It is also the hardest for business owners to deliver as there may be a really significant price to be paid. Your best people will inevitably want to enjoy a greater share of the rewards of the business. And this means ownership of the business, either yours or their own. So if you want to hang on to your best people who may be delivering a significant share of the profits of your business, you need to ask yourself if you are willing to take them as a partner in your business? Because this may be required to keep them into the future. Let them go and watch your firm suffer, or give them some share in the business and grow it together – the choice is yours.

5 Apps I couldn’t work without

I’m sometimes asked about the apps that I use on my phone, tablet and desktop that help me be more efficient. There are 5 apps (at least) without which I’d really struggle to work effectively. So here they are and how they help me.

1. Join.me

This is a great app to use to support phone conversations with clients. There is a paid version, with which you can have full audio & visual meetings / presentations with large groups. However for most Financial Brokers, the free app will meet their needs.

The free app allows you to share your desktop screen with another user over the Internet. This is a great facility if you use it while on the phone to someone. You can give your client access to your screen and talk them through a PowerPoint presentation, maybe walk through some figures in an Excel document adapting the spreadsheet as you talk, browse investment data together or tinker around with Voyant inputs. The potential uses are endless… And while you can never replace face-to-face meetings, sometimes a very effective phone conversation with screen sharing will suffice.

2. Sidekick

This is an app from Hubspot that I’ve been using for about a year now and find invaluable. The purpose of the app is to alert me when someone opens an email that I’ve sent to them. While it’s not perfect (for example it doesn’t work when you’ve sent an email to multiple users), it is fantastic in helping me to time when to follow up an email that I’ve sent. For example, I might have sent a proposal 3 or 4 weeks ago and suddenly see the recipient opening the email again. Might be worth a follow-up call while I know the recipient is considering the proposal again…

3. Feedly

This is an app that I use al of the time in seeking out useful content from the web to share, and indeed for content ideas to write about. It uses the little orange buttons that you see on many websites with 3 white lines in them These are RSS (Really Simple Syndication) buttons, which enable you to have content sent to you as it is uploaded on the web – this might be from a blog, a news feed etc. However (thankfully) you’re not sent an email every time something is uploaded. Instead it is sent to a reader, which gathers all of these articles in one place. It is like a magazine rack for online articles, waiting for you to go through them.

The great help this offers is that when you are using a reader (my favourite is Feedly), you can flick down through hundreds of articles in minutes, reading only the headlines if you want, dipping into an introduction if your interest is piqued or indeed the full article if you think it is actually worth reading. And you can mark them all as “Read” very easily as you go along, ensuring those particular articles don’t appear again. You can categorise the different feeds into groups, which can further help you speed up the process too. The benefit of Feedly is the time it saves you in getting through huge numbers of articles.

4. Pocket

This is another app I use all of the time, in conjunction with Feedly. If Feedly is your magazine rack, Pocket is your scrap book of articles that you have “cut out”. As you quickly scan through all of your articles in Feedly, some will catch your attention for you to read later when you’ve a bit more time on your hands. So with 2 clicks, you put them in your Pocket! Again you can tag articles for different purposes – it might be to share out later, to rewrite with your own perspectives, to help you develop a new angle for your proposition etc.

You can then go back into Pocket when you want to carry out an activity (for example share some content through LinkedIn), and simply click on the article that you’ve saved for that very purpose.

5. Evernote

This again is an app that has a free version and a paid version. The objective of the paid version is to enable teams to work better collaboratiely. However I just use the free version.

This is a great app for capturing ideas, thoughts, notes etc. You can type notes into Evernote, copy in web addresses, copy webpages, attach documents & presentations and even record audio files. This is particularly useful if you have a load of thoughts in your head and just want to capture them – record them as an audio file and tidy it all up later…

I use Evernote regularly for a whole range of reasons. You can set up different notebooks within it for personal use as well as business use and you can attach tags to every note to keep any related articles together. The days of forgetting great ideas are behind you if you get into the habit of using Evernote.

These Apps are simply invaluable to me. They help me to  find and manage content, and work more effectively with my prospects and contacts.