Five tips for recruiting advisers in a remote-working world

This article first appeared in Professional Adviser.

Working habits have changed over the past 18 months during the coronavirus pandemic. This blog explores five ways advisers can better recruit in a world with more remote working.

IFA firms across the UK rose to the challenge of home-working last year, with many now planning to let staff work remotely more frequently, and others choosing to scrap the office altogether.

While the pros and cons of such arrangements have been widely debated, the fact remains that the people delivering the advice and doing the administration are essential to a company’s success.

Now and in the future many firms will have to overhaul their approach to recruitment to ensure it suits their ‘new normal’.

This presents many potential challenges, but there are also clear pointers that can make a firm successful. Here are some examples.

1. Make sure your HR policy hangs together

Sadly, it’s not as simple as telling people they can work from home and leaving it at that. Your HR policy needs to be absolutely watertight, which can be a huge project in and of itself.

Are you giving people the opportunity to work from home as a right or a privilege? There’s a big difference.

Ultimately, you need to ensure that everyone is clear on the parameters. For example, will staff still be expected to travel in on specific days of the week, and is there any flexibility on this? And will everyone have the same rights and privileges, or will senior advisers have more autonomy than paraplanners?

You may also need to reconsider your health and safety procedures. Today, this means so much more than making sure that people plug things in safely. Even if you’re not seeing staff every day, you still have a duty to ensure that all employees are well looked after both physically and mentally in the home workspace.

The legalities of where your responsibilities start and end can be a bit of a minefield, so you might want to consult a professional who can pinpoint any gaps in your policies and procedures. You’ll find there are plenty of online HR agencies who will be willing to help, but make sure that you vet them thoroughly to be certain that you’re opting for a credible provider.

2. Contract considerations 

Standard employment contracts don’t typically allow for home working, meaning that as with your HR policy you need to be completely clear on where you want people – and when.

You should also consider how confident you are that your business and clients will suit having advisers working remotely long-term. It’s almost impossible to backtrack once something is written into a contract.

As a rule of thumb, putting new starters on an office-working contract – making clear that there is some flexibility for them to work from home – will provide the business with room for manoeuvre if circumstances change.

3. Don’t lose focus on quality

For many firms, adapting their traditional working arrangements has created the opportunity to level up new staff hires. Some have discovered that they can source the same high-quality talent in areas outside of the UK’s commuter belts.

However, tempting though it may be to streamline costs by targeting candidates in regions with traditionally lower salary ranges, you should always stay focused on how qualified someone is and how suited they are to your business.

The most successful firms will be those that take a candidate-driven approach, deciding how much an individual is worth to their particular business before bringing anything else into consideration.

4.     Insist on at least one face-to-face meeting with prospective staff members

Wherever possible, you should always meet people face-to-face before making an offer – even if it’s only once. We’ve all experienced misunderstandings on Zoom calls that might not have happened if we were in the same room; the same thing applies to interviews.

Meeting a person face-to-face enables you to gain a much better sense of who they are as a person and how well equipped they are to deal with clients. It’s also extremely difficult to help people understand – and buy into – your cultural values online.

5.    Embrace flexibility to access an even broader pool of talent

An increasing number of advisers are concluding that if they’re not spending time and money on travel, then a three- or four-day week will suit them just fine. Not having to fork out for commuting costs means that they’re prepared to take a salary cut.

By being flexible on when and where employees work, you’re likely to attract a much broader and diverse pool of talent.

For an IFA business to really thrive in a remote-working environment, taking the time to ensure that your recruitment processes are up to scratch will be vital to your long-term success.