You’re Hired!

Bill Parrott |

While working at Morgan Stanley, I hired scores of individuals for the firm’s financial advisor training program. Directly or indirectly, I talked to hundreds of individuals about our firm. To hire hundreds, I reviewed thousands of resumes.

Finding individuals to work at Morgan Stanley was not hard, especially during the late ‘90s. The blue-blood, white-shoe firm attracted superior talent, and working for the firm was a status symbol, especially for recent college graduates.

I enjoyed the process, and I met some fantastic people. Of all the people I hired, a few of them stand out. Here are four individuals (not their real names) who made a strong impression.

Andy wanted an opportunity to improve the quality of life for his family. He worked for a big-box retailer at the time I hired him, and on his first day of work, Andy walked into our office dressed like Gordon Gekko. He traded his vest for a blazer. Andy looked the part. But, more importantly, he changed his mindset now that he worked for a prestigious Wall Street firm. He did well, and every few years, he calls to thank me for giving him a shot at a new career and a better life.

June graduated from Yale University and she was a native of South Korea. She was a quick study and eager to learn. She wanted to know how to succeed in the business, so I told her to meet with as many people as possible and open two new accounts per week. June followed the script, and she was one of my most successful hires.

Larry was a former professional tennis player who played at Wimbledon. He walked into my office unannounced and said he wanted to work for Morgan Stanley. We talked for some time, and I offered him a job. Like most professional athletes, he was focused and disciplined.

Bob was a former Marine, full of energy. After a few months on the job, I walked into his office, and he had numerous spreadsheets lining his wall. The categories included contacts, appointments, new accounts, and assets. I told him he would make it in the business, and he wanted to know how I knew. I told him his goal-setting and drive would take him to new heights. He’s still going strong, twenty-five years later.

Recruiting for a large Wall Street firm like Morgan Stanley is easy. Hiring for a small firm is challenging. My firm is growing, so I posted a job opening for a new advisor or financial planner. It was a three-month ordeal, a dreadful experience. It was so bad that I’m reluctant to go through the process again, despite the growth of my firm.

After a decade of hiring, I learned a few things. Here are a few suggestions to help you improve your recruiting process.

  1. If the person you’re interviewing arrives on-time for their first interview, don’t hire them. To arrive on time is to arrive late. Look for individuals who arrive early, and the earlier, the better.  People who arrive on time for their initial interview will show up late to the office once they start working for your firm.
  2. Set up multiple interviews for your candidate, don’t rely on one person to make the hiring decision. After interviewing an applicant at Morgan Stanley, the receptionist told me he was rude and disrespectful. On paper, and in my interview, he was the ideal candidate. I didn’t hire him, and after the experience, I had candidates meet with several people in the office. We would then gather to review our notes before I made an offer.
  3. Invite your candidate to breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You’ll learn much by the way they eat their food and hold their utensils. Do they know the proper way to use a knife or fork? One candidate held his fork like a flare, and when he’d talk, he’d wave it around like he was trying to signal an aircraft. Do they wait for others to be served, or do they dive in without a care in the world? Walt Bettinger, the CEO of Charles Schwab, invites candidates to lunch and purposely messes up their order to see how they react.[1] Do they roll with the punches, or do they get upset?
  4. Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are paramount for a new hire. A candidate who’s not polite will not make a good employee.
  5. Did they send you a thank-you email after they completed the interview? An email is okay; a handwritten note is better. In a world of electronic communication, a thank you letter will allow the candidate to stand out from the crowd.
  6. Once hired, how do they set up their office? Do they personalize their space? Do they hang pictures? Do they have photos of their family? If not, they won’t stay at your firm long.

Once your new employee is on board, you owe them a duty of care. It’s your responsibility to make sure your new hire feels welcomed. Here are a few ideas to make them feel appreciated.

  1. The first 48 hours are crucial. Let them know you care about them by introducing them to your staff. If possible, walk them around your office so they can meet the others. Show them the entire office, including the restroom and breakroom. Check in with them often during the first few days to make sure they feel comfortable.
  2. Send a welcome email to your employees so they can get to know their new colleague. Include a bio, picture, job description, etc.
  3. Send a welcome gift to the individual’s family, so they know they’re also part of the team.
  4. Post an ad in your local paper or magazine so their friends, family, and neighbors can see they have a new job.
  5. Set up their office, so when they start on day one, it’s ready to go. Is the computer working? Is the printer connected? Do they have business cards? Is their office stocked with paper, paper clips, pens, pencils, folders, and sticky notes? Is it clean? When I left Morgan Stanley to join A.G. Edwards, my new office was a temporary storage closet. I had to clean it myself, and nothing worked. I was not impressed with their preparation and did not feel welcomed.
  6. Give them some swag – hats, shirts, pens, mugs, whatever you got. They now ride for the brand.
  7. Keep the employee busy. Have them work on special projects. Include them on calls and visits so they can meet the firm’s clients.
  8. Be flexible. Be patient. It will take them time to get up and running. Give them grace so that they know you care about their long-term success.

Hiring successful people takes time. Be firm in your commitment to finding the best candidates. Be authentic and humble, and most importantly, trust your instincts.

Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don't have the first, the other two will kill you. ~ Warren Buffett

November 7, 2019


Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

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