Scott Gallacher: Take a punt on hiring an apprentice

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Aug 22, 2019
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Investing time in building a team is the smartest way run a business even if you are keeping it small

We advisers are a fiercely independent bunch. We all have our ways of working and generally we don’t take too kindly others telling us what to do. That said, I’m known to raise my head above the parapet from time to time and, at the risk of incurring the wrath of my fellow advisers, share my views on the benefits of building a great team.

I know many brilliant advisers where the business is just them on their own, perhaps with a loving spouse pitching in to help. But personally that could never work for me.

While some advisers struggle to delegate, fearing no one can do the job as well as they can, I am more than happy to delegate to other capable – or in some cases even more capable – people.

For other advisers, it’s simply a catch-22 situation. They’d like to build a team but they’re either too busy to have the time to do it or, worse still, don’t have the resources. I’d suggest they need to make the time – or the money – to invest in their business and start building that dream team.

We started small. I joined my firm in 1997 as a trainee IFA which will have put a little strain on the business at the time. Rowley Turton wasn’t exactly a one-man band as we were part of a larger accountancy firm that gave us reception cover. But essentially it was just the adviser and managing director, Alan, and me.

I like to think that I quickly started to repay some of the investment the firm made in to my career. I was far from an IT specialist, but I did bring some basic computer skills, and this enabled me to switch some tasks from paper to PC saving us valuable time. Whilst Alan was out of the office with clients, I was able to deal with the post, answer basic client enquiries and prepare quotes, etc. Eventually I transitioned through trainee, administrator and paraplanner and in 2003 I started to advise.

Slowly but surely this extra capacity from myself and other recruits enabled Alan to take on more and more clients while giving them an even better service. More clients meant more income and Alan was able to add further support staff. A truly virtuous circle.

It’s not only about being able to grow the business. Having that great team behind us ensures that our clients get the best possible service even when we’re unavailable.

I recall reading that many managers don’t hire the best people for fear of being overshadowed by their employees, whereas others hire those they click with. Our approach has been simple, we always strive to hire great people who can add quality to our team.

Today we’ve built a great team of around a dozen people and we think we’ve just hired another star.

Due to that catch-22 scenario I mentioned earlier, you might not be able to hire a fully qualified paraplanner from day one but you could perhaps make a start building your team by taking on an apprentice. With the government paying almost all of the training costs for an apprentice, the financial commitment is not huge. And, who knows, you might even discover a future award-winning adviser like yours truly.

If you’re thinking about building the dream team then what are you waiting for?

Scott Gallacher is a financial planner and director of Rowley Turton


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