Rod Bertino

Some financial advice firms continue to overlook crucial pieces of the puzzle needed to attract and retain talent, a new report reveals.

Prepared by Business Health just last month, the ‘Swimming at the deep end of the talent pool’ report breaks down the findings of a compensation survey of Australian advice firms in a bid to better understand what firms are offering their staff in terms of remuneration and benefits.

It found that demand for quality staff is at an all-time high and the market doesn’t show any signs of cooling over the next 12 months.

Two thirds (68 per cent) of advisory firms reported that they are looking to add new members to their team during this year, with competition greatest in city areas, where a whopping 72 per cent of practices will be actively recruiting.

The challenge for employers is to quantify in dollar terms the cost of the benefits they provide and issuing the term with a total compensation statement that shows the full value of the package they receive.

To be viewed an employer of choice, advice firms need to introduce measures that will help them stand out in a hot marketplace. For example, offering support staff the ability to acquire equity in the firm, paid maternity and paternity leave, the option to negotiate flexible working hours and education support such as course fee funding or paid time off for study or to sit exams, Business Health partner, Rod Bertino said.

While this won’t address the intangible benefits that come from working in a business that offers a great culture and alignment of values, it may prevent an employee from accepting an offer with a competing firm, the report points out.

Meanwhile, the majority of firms also throw in paid memberships and subscriptions and flexible working hours (77 per cent), while mobile phones, education support, and the opportunity to acquire equity in the firm is also a common benefit.

Interestingly, less than five per cent of firms are also throwing in medical and healthcare benefits and the opportunity to purchase additional leave.

The survey reveals that advisers with less than five years’ experience are, on average, on a salary of $97,872 with a $7414 annual bonus or incentive. Advisers with more than five years’ experience are taking home a salary of $149,443 with a further $11,519 in a bonus or incentive.

While offering a competitive financial package to employees and potential new team members is a great start, this isn’t enough to attract and retain talent. Practice principals focus on reinforcing the totality of the package, not just the headline salary component given it’s a tight labour market.

Half of firms are budgeting for increased staffing costs of between 15 per cent and 25 per cent in the near future, while the other half said they didn’t expect their salary bill to alter much.

The report also found that opening up incentive plans to all employees to include equity shares, extended time off, or even gifts such as holidays or whitegoods as an alternative to dollars are also worth considering.

Meanwhile, smaller advice firms should also actively differentiate their staff offer from larger competitors and better articulate the additional benefits they can offer that may not be available in a larger firm, it found.