Four Books That Will Change Your Professional Life

This has been an unusually fruitful season for books for and about financial planners. Not only has there been my book (The New Profession, available on my website) and Julie Littlechild’s The Pursuit of Absolute Engagement (which I’ve reviewed in my publication, Inside Information; for an excerpt from the book, go here), but several other absolute masters of the financial planning universe have recently published four books that add to your chances of success as you grow your business and career.

What I like best is that there is no fluff in any of them. An attentive reader can finish any of these books in a few hours at most. But the key is to identify, in each book, the specific actions and recommendations that you can take to be better at some pretty important activities – which is another way of saying the it could take you years to fully integrate the recommendations offered in these slim volumes.

Here’s your chance to capture what I consider to be the best of the wisdom of the masters: my recommended reading list for a summer weekend:

How to win at the competitive sport of recruiting and hiring

Successful Hiring for Financial Planners, by Caleb Brown of New Planner Recruiting (Coventry House Publishing; to read an excerpt from the book, go here), is exactly what you expect: a deep dive into how to win the ongoing recruiting contest for talent into your firm. The book is especially strong on hiring college graduates with financial planning degrees – which many firm founders are not likely to be skilled at, because virtually all of them came into this field, not directly out of college, but from some other field or profession.

Effective recruiting was once a matter of posting a job listing and then hiring one of the dozens of candidates who flocked to your door. No longer. In this tight job market, and especially as more firms are looking for successors, the supply of young financial planning talent has become increasingly scarce. Moreover, you are now competing with brokerage firms and Vanguard, who are offering, respectively, surprising amounts of money or a surprisingly quick path to working directly with clients.

So where do you start? Brown suggests that you go about the process systematically. Sit down and evaluate what, exactly, you need in a new hire. Are you a strategic visionary and a primary relationship manager? Then you need somebody who can fill in the operational side of the business and learn the ropes as a planner. Are you primarily a rainmaker? Then you need somebody who can step in and serve the clients you’re bringing in, freeing you up to bring in more business.

More broadly, ask yourself: What is currently lacking in your client service and delivery model? And: Are you willing to take a temporary step back, both in income and time, in order to help your firm move forward? What tasks will this new person be able to perform that you don’t want on your desk?