Why It’s Critical to Have a Well-Conceived, Repeatable Advisor Onboarding Process

Why It's Critical to Have a Well-Conceived, Repeatable Advisor Onboarding ProcessIt is well-established in the financial advisory industry that the client onboarding process is crucial to building profitable, long-term relationships. When done poorly, you’ll likely see clients heading for the exits leaving you with thinning profit margins and a tarnished reputation. For the same reasons, onboarding advisors is equally critical for financial advisors looking to build their teams and achieve higher growth and productivity.

The financial services industry is notorious for its high churn rate, especially among less experienced financial advisors looking to gain a foothold in a thriving environment. It can take as many as eight months or more for a newly placed financial advisor to reach full productivity. So an early exit can be highly costly to both the firm and the advisor.

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There are no second chances for onboarding a new Advisor successfully

As with new clients, onboarding advisors is the most critical point in their experience at a new firm, with long-lasting implications for engagement, performance, and retention. It’s a high-stakes game that requires a well-conceived and highly efficient process, or a lot of time and resources will be wasted.

It takes time, energy, and resources to bring on an advisor successfully, things most advisors or small firms don’t have in abundance. However, it’s possible to overcome the lack of scale in any situation with a clearly defined, repeatable, and well-documented onboarding process that can serve two critical purposes: 1) to convert newly hired advisors into productive members of your team and 2) to make them feel like a valuable addition to your team within a short period of time.

A well-designed, repeatable advisor onboarding leads to less churn, greater efficiencies, happier and more productive advisors, more advisor referrals, and minimal compliance issues.

Best practices for an Advisor onboarding framework

No advisor onboarding process is created equal. However, there are certain best practices to follow that can make it successful.

#1. Streamline and automate paperwork where possible

Paperwork is a necessary evil when onboarding advisors. By streamlining and automating the paperwork process where possible, you can show new advisors you are well-prepared and reliable. All required paperwork should be at the front end of an onboarding kit, easily and securely accessible, preferably through a digital platform such as Digital Vault. Documents can be digitally signed and exchanged confidently and confidentially.

#2. Set clear expectations

Your onboarding kit should include expectations for all parties—what will be expected of the new advisor and of the firm by the advisor. The advisor will need to know what is expected in terms of time commitment, learning objectives, production requirements, work contributions, and progress benchmarks with timelines. They will also want to know what they can expect of the firm regarding support, technology training, communications, opportunities for self and career development, and how the firm will help them achieve their goals.

#3. Lay out a clear development track

The first six weeks of a new advisor’s development track should be highly orchestrated with a mix of assigned self-learning and staff training. It should include learning objectives and a timeline for completing assignments.

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#4. Meet the staff and colleagues

The advisor should meet with each team member to understand their roles as part of their development track. When done within the first week, it creates an opportunity for the new advisor to start building collaborative relationships that will make them feel a part of a team.

#5. Schedule daily face-to-face meetings

Well into the first several weeks, your new advisor will have questions and need feedback on how they are doing. Schedule a brief one-on-one session each day to check their progress and temperature. It’s also an opportunity for the new advisor to see a familiar face every day to help put them at ease. You should have a daily review checklist to check their progress on all assigned tasks and schedule new tasks based on their development track.

#6. Schedule a weekly review

Schedule an expanded one-on-one weekly meeting to check progress and answer questions. It’s an opportunity to set and review weekly goals. More importantly, it’s an opportunity to check on the advisor’s level of engagement and make them feel like a valued team member while demonstrating the firm’s value and commitment. Weekly reviews should continue until the new advisor has achieved all development objectives and is meeting production goals—a minimum of six months.

#7. Get it all on paper

The key to scaling your advisor onboarding process for maximum effectiveness and efficiency is to have it all documented in an operations and training manual. It should include the onboarding workflows, expectations, checklists, operational procedures, training objectives, roles, and responsibilities. It may seem like a lot of work—when done correctly, it is—but it is well worth the time to demonstrate to your new advisor that you care about their success.

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