One of the key factors to successful family offices is the ability to attract and retain top talent. Family offices can perform a wide range of functions that go beyond managing investments.
This can include managing more financial aspects such as bill pay, tax planning, managing personal properties and household staff, managing complex projects and philanthropy. The saying ‘you see one family office, you have seen one family office’ is true in the fact that the breadth of services provided can vary greatly and is customized based on the needs of the family. This requires employees that have the skills needed to expertly deliver on a specific set of services as well as having the soft skills and emotional intelligence to engage and communicate with family members
To attract the best candidates, family offices first need absolute clarity on the role they are trying to fill, and then they need to show candidates how the office is set up to support that role. This article shares ideas on how to position your firm to attract and retain top talent.
When thinking about the role you are trying to fill, consider:
- The type of personality best suited for the role. For example, some jobs require a candidate that can quickly adapt to new tasks, others require someone who can wear many hats, or someone who is detail oriented, entrepreneurial, or cool under pressure. Also, how much, if any, interaction will the employee have with the family? Is this strictly an intra-office role or will they need to engage with family members as well as family office executives? If so they will need to have the proper emotional intelligence as well as skills and industry knowledge to do the job.
- How the person should ideally be motivated. Is the ideal candidate for this role motivated by title, money, learning, growth, praise or recognition? Think about the career path for this role and make sure your candidate will be happy with it. Depending on the size of the office there may be a very limited career path. This can be okay for some people who enjoy what they do, but may not be suitable for everyone. For larger offices there is the opportunity to cross train employees and exposes them to other areas of the family office. This is a great way to appeal to growth– and learning-oriented candidates. Don’t be afraid to ask the candidates what skills they would like to acquire or develop. This is another way to understand their motivations.
- The day-to-day tasks the person will be handling. In addition to having a clear job description, consider who they will need to interact with, and how you’d like them to communicate with both employees and clients. Also take this opportunity to talk about how the role contributes to the big picture of what the family office is trying to accomplish and how they might be able to contribute. Employees will want understand how they can contribute and make a difference
When you meet with candidates, be clear about how the office is set up to support them. Some points to bring up are:
- Office flexibility and working remotely: If your office supports working remotely, or flexible scheduling, this can be a big selling point for candidates.
- The unique qualities your firm offers: Think about your office culture and highlight aspects that would entice others to want to join your firm. For example, some firms are very technology oriented and can use that to attract talent by taking the manual labor out of their tasks.
- Technology and innovation: Be up front about how your firm leverages technology or how much manual processing is taking place. Younger employees generally want and expect to work with new technologies and setting the right expectations can help reduce staff turnover. Lack of a modern technology stack will not only reduce your operational capabilities, but will impact your ability to attract and retain talent.
- Education and growth: Firms should make a point of highlighting continuing education, skills training, and other programs firms offer that are designed to continually invest in their employees. Reducing turnover is a key privacy concern with families as employees know details about the family and their business interest that they would like kept confidential. One of the better ways to reduce turnover is in continued investment in training of your staff.
- Incentives and reviews: Tell candidates about how employee reviews are structured (annually, quarterly, semi-annually). If you have a formal structure to award bonuses and goals your office is trying to achieve, tell them about it. Employees want to work towards short and long term concrete goals and objectives.
Family office staff can have such a close working relationship with the family, they are often seen as an extension of the family. The relationships that they build and the knowledge they acquire cannot be easily replaced. While family offices may lack the typical career path of more commercial enterprises, they can certainly be an attractive work environment for a certain subset of candidates. The key from both a privacy standpoint and a productivity standpoint is to reduce turnover as much as possible by attracting the right kind of talent and being transparent to what the job expectations will be.
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