When advisors at Securities America have a hiring dilemma, they turn to Kirk Hulett.
Kirk Hulett, senior vice president of strategy and practice management, is a key player at Securities America, not because of his extraordinary wit (although that helps), but because of his depth of human resources and practice management knowledge. I sat down with Hulett (author of 2007's Hiring to Grow: A Practical Handbook--How to Attract and Select Quality Talent and 2008's Managing for Performance: The Cycle of Success) to discover some of the lessons Securities America reps have learned from Hulett that still elude so many of their peers.
Drucker: Kirk, why--as the practice management "go-to" guy at Securities America--do you put such an emphasis on good hiring practices?
Hulett: Two reasons. First is the hard business reason, namely, that advisors must effectively manage their people in order to grow their practices. They need a strong staff in place, to leverage more clients, handle more referrals, and so on. So good hiring practices are a critical part of one's growth strategy. The other reason is more what I call "socio-emotional." In my experience, the biggest frustrations advisors deal with are personnel issues. Not having the right person for the job means problems like untimely work delivery or poor attitude, any of which can cause advisor angst, and yet can be minimized if hiring and people management are done correctly.
Drucker: So how does an advisor "qualify" a prospective hire? For example, do you recommend your reps conduct background checks?
Hulett: We definitely recommend background checks; in fact, one requirement of being a representative with Securities America is that associated persons must go through background checks. We consider it a "Best Practice" because, so many times an advisor will think she's hiring a strong person only to find out there are criminal issues in the person's past--or maybe fraud or felonious behavior or a made-up work history. It's happened on multiple occasions.
Drucker: How does the advisor do this?
Hulett: Advisors can use Google to find companies that conduct background checks, such as ChoicePoint. Prices differ based upon the level of review they do. One service may be checking more counties in former locations where the job candidate lived than another. But advisors should definitely use something if their broker-dealer or another third party doesn't already provide such a tool.
Drucker: Do you also recommend to your reps that they use tests like the Kolbe Index or Financial DNA's profiling system to asses the new hire's personality, skills and/or where they fit as a team player?