Darren Steinhardt and Kris Martin

Advice groups looking to shore up their long-term adviser stocks are leaning into the professional year set-up and embedding themselves in the university environment, with Brisbane adviser Kris Martin telling Professional Planner his firm has gone “fairly aggressively” into the early recruitment space.

Speaking on the Principals in Practice podcast, sponsored by BlackRock, Martin explained how his KDM Financial advice group used the advent of the professional year requirement as a catalyst to bolster their recruitment program.

“We did go fairly aggressively into the space, as soon as we could essentially,” Martin said, noting that KDM has already had two advisers complete the professional year, while two are in progress and another two started in July.

“One of the biggest… concerns that we have for the profession going forward is bringing that talent through and making sure we have that next generation of advisers. And it’s quite a small a small pool of advisers at the moment… so we certainly would like to aggressively look into those spaces to get those young advisers on board.”

Martin detailed last year how KDM was addressing the industry’s talent deficit directly by setting up a line of communication with schools and universities as part of a broader ‘adoption’ program to bring young prospects into the industry.

By visiting schools and universities and talking to students about advice, Martin and partner Luke Marshal brought 15 graduates and interns through their North Brisbane firm, with over half of those being subsequently hired.

Martin detailed the ‘adoption’ process in the podcast, explaining that the firm takes on four to six interns twice a year. “We put our hand up to take on as many interns as we can,” he said.

“We generally hire, every six months, at least two of those four to six interns,” the adviser continued. “We also do a few additional things such as sponsoring a couple of students every year and offering a few prizes for the top students. And so it always keeps us, I suppose, front of mind and is proving to be a good resource for us.”

According to Darren Steinhardt, founder and managing director of licensee InFocus, the professional year program is something to be embraced by principals as an extension of their traditional recruitment set-ups.

“For us the professional development program is just really another level on top of what we have traditionally done over the years, [but] much more structured, much more formal,” he said on the podcast. “And I think much better.”

Steinhardt acknowledged the role licensees have in supporting their associated advice groups construct and run their professional year programs. As licensees try to impress advisers through their value proposition, he notes, support in areas like training and development is crucial.

“So there’s a few things we’ve done within the network to help defray the costs of actually helping advisers get people in that program, because it’s running your own advice practice [and] there are the ancillary costs that you’ll have to cover… hidden costs… so we do what we can to help everybody through that.”

While some advisers have expressed concern that nothing binds a professional year candidate to the company that trained them, Steinhardt said the onus remains on the firm to give staff a reason to stick around.