Financial planning, selling mutual funds, life insurance, other financial products…all these are functions that an INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL AGENT does.

I have met many IFAs – and most of them are one man shows. Some of them of course are bigger and have between 2-10 employees. When you have a few employees, HR comes into play. No, you do not need a HR manager to handle a team size of 10, but good HR practices cannot be ignored.

Let us look at some of the challenges:

1. Most IFAs tell me ‘this is the best quality of people that I can get’ : the IFA himself is SURE that good people will not join him. They are sure that good people will either get better jobs or they will go for higher studies. This is not true – there are many kids who cannot afford higher studies and are looking for a career near their houses – so recheck your catchment area.

2. Make sure that the basic hygiene is in place – a clean loo, at least 2 women employees (get a family member in at least for some time if u have only a young girl working in your office), cleanliness of office – physical and mental, making sure that the staff use nice language – some girls can get terrified if they hear ‘gaalis’ from the boss, BE CAREFUL.

3. Have a nice atmosphere – celebrate birthdays, holidays,…whatever – keep the atmosphere friendly, DO NOT CRINGE ABOUT costs. Offer nice, free good advice to the kids in the office, give them good career guidance, academic and financial guidance. Make them feel wanted and relaxed. If you file IT returns do it FREE FOR THEM, their parents, etc. it helps.

4. Pay slightly more than the market, but obviously less than the organised sector – you cannot afford to compete with HDFC Bank, right? Spend lavish amounts of time in training them and teaching them. Get your friends to talk to them about subjects that they love – cricket, music, films, …does not matter what.

5. Take them out to lunch frequently and lavishly – remember no IFA closed down because he spent money on his staff eating well. You lose business because your employee spoke poorly.

What are the advantages of doing all this?

1. Employees will stay loyal to you : Remember your database is your ONLY asset. All employees carry a cell phone and a camera, so stealing data today is child’s play. One disgruntled employee can steal your efforts of the past 30 years. Caveat.

2. Happy employees talk to customers well, ask for reference, and do not ask clients for leads for jobs!! The whole atmosphere can be made friendly, happy, and successful….these kids will enjoy what they are doing only when they feel wanted…

3. I interact with many small businesses – and have had pleasure and pain. One hotel with good food and decent service left a poor after taste once at dinner…putting me off by about 6 months – before I visited them again.

4. A good enthusiastic employee will be proactive with clients – their enthusiasm will rub off on the client too. Once they know the values of the organisation, they will encourage longer SIPs, reduce withdrawals – have seen this happening in 2 IFA offices in Mumbai. Sadly I do not have too much interaction with the IFA offices so cannot generalize very easily.

5. By being different from the competition, your employees will also be proud that they are adding value to the whole chain! I know one IFA who has guaranteed all his staff’s Home Loan and provides LUNCH from a good source on a DAILY basis. His longest serving employee has been with him for the past 14 years. Business is about 16 years old…

…more to follow…

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  1. Incidentally, a while ago I was interacting with someone working in a small-ish interior design company. The guy was bitter that his company paid them pittance for 6-day week and almost 11-hr days! Apparently, once a year the company sponsors a group trip to some place like Thailand/
    Germany/Malaysia/…to keep the folks “happy” and “content”….sure enough he asked if he could get his CV forwarded somewhere….

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