Financial Services Recruitment Mistakes to Avoid | by Gary Das

Recruit the right people for your financial services team

A little bit of a lesson today for you on recruitment, because it’s one of those things that people are probably fearful of, and it’s one of the hardest parts of building a business. You need to get the right people around you, and you need to get the right people in the right seats for your business to grow.

And I can honestly say That I’ve had some challenges with this during the course of the last four months. We’ve doubled, then tripled our team size in actual fact, whilst not being able to do face-to-face training.

And from my point of view, not having the right manager in place caused a few issues in our recruitment within Active. We dropped the ball a few times and had a few disgruntled customers, a few fees had to be refunded. But every mistake is an opportunity to improve.

So I am sharing the key lessons from this recruitment journey here so you can avoid making the same mistakes.

You can hear me talk about recruitment here

The Recruitment Process

There is a theory that you should hire fast and fire slow, but actually, I think the opposite is true.

I think in terms of actually getting somebody to the desk that you want to work at to support you as a PA admin advisor, you need to have a solid process of recruitment, onboarding and initial training.

This means hiring slow.

Putting the effort in upfront is going to help make sure that any people you take on are going to be the right fit for your business.

Treat recruitment like dating

Hiring is like dating in the sense that you have a first date where you find out whether you like them, whether you’ve got stuff in common, and whether you want to take them on a second date, i.e. for a second interview.

And in that second interview, you’ll get a little bit more specific

On a first date, you don’t start talking about marriage and kids and all this kind of stuff. You just talk about what films you like and what mindset you’ve got and what your favourite food is.

You might talk about where you’ve been on holiday and all that kind of stuff, to find whether you’ve got some commonalities.

 “What’s most important to you in your life” is a great question for a first interview.

On the second interviews, that’s when you start getting specific about the job, what your expectations are.

So I would say that the first interview is relatively informal. The second interview is very formal, and a bit more structured, because you want to work with people that you like. But also you want to make sure that you can help them achieve their goals and help make sure that they’re the right fit for your culture and your vision, mission, and values.

Get a second opinion

Once you’ve done that, you need to have ideally a third person, to take a look and have a chat with them. Someone who knows you well and knows what your expectations are.

I’ve had my dad do it in the past. Now I’ve got a team I have two people on my team who are integral to having a chat with new people.

It doesn’t make it fail-safe, but certainly helps to make sure that they’re right for the role.

The Financial Services Recruitment Steps:

  1. First interview – get to know them
  2. Second interview – Make sure they are the right fit for the job
  3. Get a second opinion from a trusted source
  4. Train and monitor

The training process – Play to superpowers

Once you get your recruit in, it’s time to make sure they are doing the right job and that they can do the job right.

I talk about superpowers all the time, and I think it’s vital that you understand how to leverage someone else’s superpowers. Because if you give someone too much to do, they can get overwhelmed and frustrated and actually they don’t get good at absolutely anything.

If you get the opportunity to bring them into the office to sit with you for a week or two so they can shadow you and you can ask relevant questions, and you can see what they’re like then great.

If you can do that, it’s not always easy to do, but if you can, then it’s definitely a big, big part of the recruitment process. You can formulate their job role based on what their skills are. You’ll just get a better feel for them which will pay dividends down the line.  

Your training plan

So let’s assume now you’ve got them into the business. You need to have a good training plan to bring them in. You need to make sure that you show them, they write checklists and they write job processes, and then you observe them doing it, and then you let them fly with it.

But when you let them fly with it, you need to make sure you monitor.

And this is where I think the biggest mistake often is for a lot of people.

You get someone into the business, you show them how to do it. You go, “There’s a desk, there’s a computer, and this is how you do your job, crack on.” and leave them to their own devices.

And that’s where I’m not a particularly good manager because that’s my method.

Put the right manager in place

But I know my failings from building businesses many times over the years. And that’s why I have a full-time operations manager in place now who supports me, who loves the stuff that I don’t necessarily enjoy.

I love coaching and mentoring and working with the individual to take the action, and I provide the accountability.

Whereas managing somebody on a day-to-day is what a business needs.

Not necessarily micro-managing, but I would say from the moment that somebody steps into your business as a new employee, you have to manage because then over time you can ensure that they’re following the right process. They’re having the right conversations, the dealing with the system in the best possible way.

So if you think that they’re going to fly straight from the off, you’ve got no chance. You need to allow at least three to six months of consistent monitoring, consistent training, and consistent improvement. Test, review, tweak, repeat. And making sure that the communication is there and the feedback is very, very regular. It needs to be a two-way street.

Common Recruitment Mistakes

Often the problem that I find, particularly with a couple of my mentees that I’m working with, they’ve got the dreams, aspirations, and wishes. They’re generating a lot of leads. They bring a couple of advisers in, they show them how to do it once.

And then they leave them to their own devices. They’re not managers themselves, and therefore they’re not managing the leads.

They’re not managing the people at the desk and they’re not managing the sales and the process. And they wonder why they’re not getting conversions. They wonder why they’re burning money on leads. They wonder why the advisers aren’t converting and putting a great deal of money in the bank. And this is the problem.

What gets measured gets managed. So you need to measure your leads. Therefore you can manage them. Therefore you can manage the people dealing with them.


  • Not monitoring
  • Giving too much responsibility too fast
  • Not giving time for shadowing


  • Allow your new hire to shadow your work and processes
  • Have them write and use checklists
  • Give them simple tasks to start off with
  • Observe and give feedback
  • Give more work based on their skillset

Here are other posts to help you build your business:

Build a Profitable Financial Services Business

Going Self Employed as a Mortgage Adviser

Mortgage Advisers, Are you Facing Overwhelm?

Building Your Financial Services Team

What are the steps to go from a self-employed mortgage adviser to heading a team?

1. Take on an admin or PA

As you take on more clients you will quickly find that you have a lot of admin, follow up and customer care to do.

You may be tempted to take on another adviser. I am a strong believer in making sure that you have yourself plus an admin first, and potentially a second admin before you take on your first adviser.

Why? Because the money is made in the follow-up and in the customer care. Follow up from an adviser perspective needs to be on point and customer care from an administration perspective needs to be on point.

  • Set up your systems and processes with your admin. Your systems and processes will be the foundation for training your advisers.
  • Take on an adviser. Follow the steps outlined earlier to hire your first adviser
  • Monitor your adviser.

2. Take on an adviser

You have your PA and systems in place, so now it’s time to take on an adviser. You can’t just leave them to get on with it though, you have to have a system in place to monitor them.

The 4 Stages in Monitoring an Adviser

You need to ensure with anyone you hire that what they’re dealing with they are doing in a proficient way. You need to know that they are doing it the way that you want it to be done, plus putting their own stamp on it.

  1. Our first checks are done after research and fact find, prior to illustrations and quotations being given to the client, to make sure that the recommendation and advice is good.
  2. We then have a process of checking that the application and the details haven’t changed from the quote being given to the application being submitted.
  3. And then we have a process of third and final checks before the suitability letter goes out to the clients to make sure that everything is correct.
  4. Finally, everything is checked by our outsourced compliance firm, right at the very end to ensure that this story all the way through is correct.

However, that only takes care of monitoring advisers in progressing successful clients that are receiving quotes.

What of all the new leads that are coming into the business?

That’s where your money can be won or lost. That’s where you can make sure that your business is able to thrive and not only survive.

If conversations aren’t being had in the right possible way of fees, aren’t being pitched in the right way. If clients aren’t getting the answers to the questions that they possibly have early enough in the conversation, then they’re going to be going off elsewhere.

Learning from my hiring mistakes

When we took on new mortgage advisers in February and March of this year, I dropped the ball on monitoring my advisers and the sales progressions. I was just extremely busy at the time. And obviously, we had all the changes with COVID and lockdown. It’s not an excuse, it’s my fault, I take full responsibility for it.

Now having got an ops manager in place, having moved Andrew up to operations manager, I’m now reviewing everything. That is what we are focusing on.

We are reviewing every single enquiry that has been made into the business during 2020.

That is a lot, it’s going to be around about 700. And it’s going to be a case of making sure that every single one of those has been dealt with in the way in which we would want. If they haven’t been, they’re going to get a phone call, and we are going to follow up.

We have the ability to be able to do that. We’re now 13 on the team. And with three full-time administrators and two advisors who are still in training, we will be taking on additional administrators further down the line.

But it’s very much the admin team’s responsibility now to go back through and recontact old clients, ensure that they were dealt with in the best possible way, get feedback from everyone that we spoke to so that we can then continue to keep improving.

And making sure that we’re monitoring the new recruits going forward.

So my word of warning to you, and also my advice to you: If you’re in the process of taking on an administrator, a PA, or an adviser, in particular, is that you need to make sure that you are monitoring consistently.

Once you have your systems working well with one or two advisers you can look to expand your team.

3. Expanding your team

I remember reading that people can only manage five to seven tasks or people at once.

So if you have a team of six in your business and you are the seventh, then you are responsible for that entire team.

When you get to eight, you need to plan to have a manager below you in order to manage the day-to-day operations, because otherwise you’re going to be stuck. You’re going to have issues.

And then it gets to a point of having a sales manager, you’ll have an ops manager, then you’ll have an administration manager.

And that’s the way you need to think about your business. You need new leads. You need pre-application, you need post application and you need customer care if you’re planning to build a larger sized operation.

To recap, to recruit into your financial services business you need to:

  • Have a process in place for training and recruitment
  • Ensure that communication levels are totally two way
  • Have the right standards laid out from the very beginning
  • Make sure that you have the right systems, processes and automations in place.
  • Give your recruits time. You’ve got to allow them to fail first in to be able to understand what’s right and what’s wrong.
  • You’ve got to be able to let them fly, but remember to monitor and review
  • Take the opportunity to hire slow, fire fast. Providing of course that you have the right training, support, guidance, mentoring, coaching management, the right systems and processes in place.

So that’s my thoughts and feelings on recruitment in financial services.

I would love to know yours. What are your top tips for recruitment? Where have you found the biggest issues in your business with recruitment? Where have you perhaps struggled in the onboarding process?

What things have you identified in your own self as to whether you are a leader rather than a manager, and how are you going to counter balance that?

Connect with me on social and let me know. Join my Facebook group, Mortgage Pro Community.

Remember now’s the time to become PRO.


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