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Make time to drill your new recruits

Susan Hill

I had an interesting conversation with a young financial adviser who enquired: "What is it that I am supposed to be rehearsing?" While it is good for morale to know that at least one person is reading my contribution, it is disheartening that he has yet to be taught or learn the basics.

There is an expectation that new young professionals will be up and running, fully qualified financial advisers from day one. This is a huge weight we place on our new joiners and young professionals and is destined for frustration and failure. Experience comes with, well, experience; time in, hard knocks and knowledge. Learning can be gained from exams such as the CII ROs and AFs, which will qualify someone as an adviser, but this only provides the technical knowledge. What my reader was really asking about was application of knowledge.

Back to my RAF officer training where everything was laid down in QRs (Queen's Regulations), for QRs think Conduct of Business. The rules and regulations are there in print for all to read; there is no excuse for not knowing what it is we have to do.

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are the interruption of those rules into a set of guides, which if followed mean you will get it right first time, no omissions, no errors. If you ever look into the flight deck you will see the pilot working through the flight's SOPs. How many businesses have SOPs? If your business took on a new person would you be able to give that new professional SOPs that explain succinctly what has to be done, why it has to be, how it has to be done and when it has to be done?

Once they have a grasp of what it is they have to do to be successful then they need to rehearse, and that is where an experienced drill sergeant is invaluable; rehearsal is the place where experience is passed on to the inexperienced in a safe environment. It is why you fly with an instructor before you go solo. 

The many obsolete direct sales forces were actually good at this and I wonder if we have lost a useful basic training facility in their demise. Having to repeat parrot fashion the product's features and benefits so the manager would sign off your month’s earnings was tiresome, but when it comes to product due diligence I am trained to analyse the features and benefits, and I am good at it. Not paying attention to basic training gives the FCA a reason to criticise our progress; let us all put in some drill.

Susan Hill is a chartered financial planner for Susan Hill Financial Planning