It’s the alert message no advisor wants to see: an outgoing account transfer notification for a great client. You’re stunned. This client has been with you for years, and you thought they were happy — what went wrong?

It’s almost impossible to prevent 100% of client attrition, but there’s one culprit that’s relatively easy to address: a bad client experience traced back to mistakes made when hiring and onboarding new team members. Missteps in these areas can lead to things falling through the cracks, high turnover and client interactions that don’t live up to your value story.

So how do you avoid these outcomes? Here are three pitfalls to watch out for:

1. Hiring people who don’t share your company’s core values

If you’ve built your business on a reputation for educating your clients and having a collaborative process, hiring someone who doesn’t share your values will likely lead to some disappointing interactions for your clients. “Ditto” if you have company values like strong proactive service or always doing what’s right for your clients.

A values mismatch will almost always reveal itself to your clients at some point or another — and though they might not be able to put their finger on it, they’re thinking “this company has changed, and I don’t like the new direction.” How to avoid it: Clearly define your company’s core values and make them a prominent part of your hiring process through interview questions, assessments and reference checks.

Related Content: Developing a Fool-Proof Hiring Process for Your Firm (webinar)

2. Not training your people thoroughly enough to do their job well

When you hire someone new, no matter how smart they are, do not – I repeat – DO NOT – use the “trial by fire” method of training. Just because they have been a Client Service Associate at another firm does not mean they are prepared to take client calls on their third day at your firm.  It is also a bad policy to skip training because you want the new hire to to “own” their role and feel empowered to create their own processes. (Autonomy and process improvement is a great thing – AFTER they’ve learned to swim!) 

Whether it’s giving clients incorrect information about accounts, generating paperwork with errors, or simply being unaware of critical client background info, blunders by an under-trained new team member can cause a complete loss of confidence and trust from your clients. 

How to avoid it: Create a detailed 90-day training plan for your new team members that covers areas like company history and culture, internal operating procedures, technology, and role-based education and training based on a well-written job description.

Related Content: The Advisor-CEO’s Ultimate Guide to Managing People

3. Not being clear about the new hire’s role, expectations and future at your firm

If you don’t have a clear job description and success measures before making a new hire, you’re setting yourself up for three potential problems. 

  • You hire someone who realizes shortly after they’ve joined that the job is not what they thought it was – and they’re out as quickly as they started, leaving a hole in your team and clients wondering what is going on at your office. 
  • Roles and duties aren’t clear, so although your team has the best of intentions, the ball gets dropped and results in poor client service. 
  • Without clarity about expectations, goals, and future opportunities, your rockstar hire loses motivation after the initial honeymoon period, negatively impacting your client experience.

How to avoid it: Create a detailed job description, performance standards and goals for every new hire before you start the interview process. You may not be able to control market performance, competition or major changes to your client’s needs, but you can control how you support your team in delivering a top-notch client experience.

Supporting your team starts by hiring the right people and setting them up for success with clarity and a solid training program. Do those things well, and you’ve built a good foundation for your company, your team and your clients.

Want to learn more about working with a Carson Coach like Sarah? Check out the webinar: How Working with a Coach Can Help Ramp Up Growth for Your Firm


Sarah M. Cain

Vice President, Coaching & Consulting
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