Chris Van Aeken of Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management discusses how to address the challenge of hiring, developing and keeping advisers in a sustainable way – rather than relying on the poaching mentality.
Date: Feb 2010
Being creative to plug the talent gap
In the post-financial crisis environment, wealth management institutions in Asia are increasingly finding that there are still insufficient numbers of qualified financial advisers to meet the growth needs which the industry has identified.
He said the bank believes that any plans to try to hire new advisers need to be complemented by training.
As a result, Morgan Stanley has launched an analyst and associate programme for 2010, and plans to hire as many new analysts as it will laterals.
Training talent internally is important when lateral hires are not available or when the bank does not want to poach advisers from competitors, said Van Aeken.
In addition, there is also an important opportunity from what he terms “creative hires” – meaning finding fund managers, institutional salespeople and even people in other industries who would potentially be good private bankers, and then giving them the necessary training.
Bringing in the right individuals
Given the intensifying competition in Asian wealth management, Van Aeken said it is critical to have the right tools to retain and attract the right people.
He said internal statistics show that if a new adviser joins laterally but doesn’t bring in the majority of his or her assets within the first six months, then it will be difficult for that individual to be successful going forward.
As a result, Van Aeken said the bank is focusing on hiring those advisers who are a good fit with Morgan Stanley’s business model, and on whom the bank has done adequate due diligence, both on the individual and their book of business.
The next challenge, he said, comes with integration.
To do this in a more effective way, Morgan Stanley integrated its recruitment and its learning and development functions in early 2010 by appointing a senior sales manager to a new full-time position of talent management. The rationale is that this person will not only understand what the bank’s investment representatives and financial advisers need, but also what the overall organisation and clients need.
Further, the bank has created what Van Aeken calls a private wealth faculty to train support staff as well as advisers.
Since the private banking offering is holistic, and something to which everybody contributes, he said training needs to be done in a structured way by having a learning plan for every employee.
“On-boarding” new advisers
Another initiative Morgan Stanley has put in place to support and enhance its hiring and integration efforts is the creation of an “on-boarding” team.
To achieve this, the bank re-focused three senior support staff exclusively on helping new recruits, by ensuring they: feel comfortable in their new environment; get to know the bank’s policies and procedures; understand the various individuals and their roles in the organisation; and know how to get things done internally.
Another responsibility of the on-boarding team is to help the new advisers transfer client assets from other organisations as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Putting in place mentoring programmes
Van Aeken said the bank has also created a “buddy” system.
The intention is to allocate an experienced staff member to a new recruit, so that the new hire has an individual (who is not part of management nor part of the same team) to speak to on an informal basis, to share ideas with and get better insight into the organisation.