Owners of financial planning firms are mindful of hiring the right person to build healthy culture and retain staff as well as create a good training environment for others, according to three diverse businesses.

Brisbane-based boutique firm Dalton Financial Partners has $2 million annual turnover and three offices employing 12 staff, headlined by three Certified Financial Planners who are backed by locally employed paraplanners and client service staff.

Principal Josh Dalton says his 11-year-old business, built from a solo practice, has developed a friendly staff culture reflected in low staff turnover where the average stay is five years thanks to a thorough hiring regimen which includes 600 questions.

“I don’t take people on face value now as most people will tell you what you want to hear [in a job interview],’’ Dalton tells Professional Planner.

“Our biggest challenge is going to be retaining and attracting talent. We have a team lunch every Monday and most people like to keep home separate and come into the office.”

He prefers to hire and train graduates which adds to the satisfaction of seeing them grow personally and professionally and build relationships with clients.

“It shouldn’t be growth at any cost as it can lead to a stressful and busy lifestyle and staff start leaving when things get out of balance,’’ he says.

While wage pressure is an issue, he says there is margin within his business to negotiate with employees on remuneration as the business grows.

Gianna Thomson, principal of Canberra-based low-client-to-adviser-ratio business Fitzpatricks Private Wealth, is about to employ a business development expert once her paraplanner returns to study.

Her first hire two years ago was to ensure she was “being there” for clients. Her new hire has more experience with client relationships and business development who will help expand her business.

As the solo planner, she outsources repetitive tasks such as applications forms and preparing engagement agreements to the Philippines which is less than half the cost of hiring a local client services worker and relies on an experienced bookkeeper for timely payments.

“For me, I’m not trying to save money, it’s about providing value and I’m scared of hiring the wrong person,” she says.

“I’ve spoken to other [business owners] and the number one issue they have is staffing issues. I want to keep [staff levels] small and be selective.”

Jenny Brown, founder and CEO of Melbourne-based JBS Financial Strategists, made the radical move to a remote business model in 2021, in response to Covid-19 restrictions.