March 26, 2013

Human Resource Strategies & Challenges of Financial Planners in India

Suresh Sadagopan
CEO, Ladder7 Wealth Planners Pvt. Ltd.

India’s leading financial planners based out of Mumbai have come to form a Professional Study Group wherein they meet second Friday of every month for 3 hours. I am also part of this study group and we had our debut meeting on Friday, March 8, 2013.

The knowledge, information and ideas sharing was fantastic. The willingness of senior planners to share and learn from each other was very encouraging and should set a new standard for the rest of fraternity to come together and engage in knowledge sharing activities. The following are the members of Study Group;

Study Group Members

  1. Amar Pandit
  2. Devang Shah
  3. Gaurav Mashruwala
  4. Kartik Jhaveri
  5. Kiran Telang
  6. Partha Iyengar
  7. Sadique Neelgund
  8. Shalini Dhawan
  9. Sumeet Vaid
  10. Suresh Sadagopan
  11. Tejal Gandhi
  12. Vishal Dhawan
  13. Vishwanath
  14. Vivek Rege
  15. Yogin Sabnis


Agenda for the First Meeting

For the first meeting the agenda for discussion was “HR Strategies and Team Building by a Financial Planning Firm”. I was given the task of moderating the discussion. With due permission from the group, here I am sharing the highlights of discussions as bullet points for the benefit of the fraternity.

As a moderator, I had requested each of the group member to share their thoughts on the following;

– How many employees you have and what is the organization structure (who does what)?
– What are your HR and Recruitment Plans for Year 2013-14?
– What are the one or two best HR strategy that you have implemented in your firm?
– What are the one or two major Human Resource Challenge you face?

We had a very lively discussion on the above matters. Below are the best HR strategies that these leading financial planners think they have implemented in their respective practices and also the most challenging HR issue they face. I am sure these insights will be useful to many of you who have a team in place or planning to build a team to scale up operations.

Some of the Best HR Strategies Implemented by Group Members:

  1. An Organization Structure & Staffing driven by “Why, How &What” Model of Simon Sinek.
  2. Being transparent with the team and sharing the firm’s vision and aligning team members with the vision.
  3. Following the P4 Principle of HR Management which emphasizes on the factors Preparation, Pay, Perks and Productivity.
  4. Giving salary based on industry standards and linked to performance level.
  5. Giving Work-Life Balance to staff. Setting rules and discipline for the team created by the team members.
  6. Putting the organization on a growth mode and offering growth to staff. Employees stick around if they see growth coming.
  7. Taking high quality student trainees who are on look out for jobs soon after their graduation or during their final years.
  8. Taking Management Trainees from MBA Colleges and training them with domain knowledge
  9. Taking people who are hungry for making a lifelong career in financial planning
  10. Use of technology wherever possible to have less human intervention


Some of the Most Challenging HR Issues faced by Group Members:

  1. Aligning the organization structure to new regulatory environment where advisory and transaction needs to be separated
  2. Confidentially of client data and staff taking away clients when they leave the organization.
  3. Finding purpose driven employees. Most job seekers look for lucrative careers rather than purpose driven careers
  4. Freshers simply lack skills and knowledge required for the job profile of a financial planner. Lot of grooming needs to be done before they are given responsible jobs.
  5. Getting the right talent from the industry that suits the specific job profile we are looking for.
  6. Getting the talent who have intentions of staying with a firm for long term. Freshers jump careers too fast.
  7. People want to work in corporate firms and not with boutique firms like that of Independent Financial Planners
  8. Planners not willing to do client acquisition function, they simply want to sit and write plans. They have to start taking the onus of client acquisition also.
  9. Retaining good talent/ financial planners who come on board and keeping them motivated.
  10. We take employees who want to be independent after some years. But employees/ financial planners take a lot of time to go independent and set up on their own


Agenda for Next Meeting

The Human Resource topic is so vast and pertinent in Indian financial planning industry that the group has decided to get into the depth of the topic and will be discussing it again during next meeting scheduled for Friday, April 12, 2013. The following points for discussion have been agreed upon;

  1. Hiring & Compensation
  2. Initial & Ongoing Training
  3. Productivity & Data Security
  4. Retention & Career Path


Network FP has formed 2 more Professional Study Groups in Mumbai which will be meeting second Wednesday of every month. The agenda for first meeting scheduled on April 10th is “Self-Assessment of Your Respective Websites & Ideas for Advisor/Planner Website Designing”. Network FP encourages all financial planners across the country to either form a study group on their own or join one of the existing study groups. If you are interested in joining Network FP’s Professional Study Groups drop in a mail to

Register for Investment Outlook 2013 at BSE on April 3rd


Authored by,

Sadique Neelgund

Network FP Knowledge solutions pvt. ltd

9 Thoughts to “Human Resource Strategies & Challenges of Financial Planners in India”

  1. Dear  Sadique, We at Sambalpur in ODISHA already doing this with Six IFAs. Our major moto is developing presentation skills among IFAs & knowledge building. In our group there are two senior IFAs and others are since 2006. If you have any suggestion to build better & interactive learning expreience with all than intimate me. Thanks  Prabir  

    • Prabir… its great that you are laready doing these kind of activties in your city. Wish you all the very best. Try to increase the group size to around 15 if you get the right kind of advsiors. Diversity in group is good

  2. Dear Sadique,

    We at Sambalpur – ODISHA. Already done with Six nos of IFA. Our major motto is develop presentation skill among IFAs & knowledge building overall. In our group two senior IFA and others.

    are since 2006.

    If you have any suggestion to build better & interactive learning experience with all than intimate me.



  3. wealthbeing says:

    Good work, Sadique! I am sure this will keep the group aligned and help tackle several issues collectively. Regards


    • Thanks Amit… I am of the opinion that since this profession lacks a strong formal education… the only way to keep evolving is thru peer-to-peer interaction and continuous education.

  4. Dear Sadique,
    thank you this summary gives a very good insight.

    While reading I just can imagine sitting with the group and discussing all that challenges that are so common for all financial planners and small business owner all over the world.

    I'm writing from Germany and I'm almost a bit sad not being able to join the group face to face. Allthough I want to share some thoughts, hoping they are of worth for you and the study group.

    To make it short, I want to suggest a few tools, books and websites:

    1) For hiring an assessment could be very helpful.

    We start a training for financial coaches this year and I decided to use the HOGAN assessment (online Assessment. – example report: to find out who fits best in the group and who might have trouble becoming a coach. Even if I'm a very experienced psychologist and coach I prefer to work with an objectice psychometric tool with high quality for hiring and selecting people for the training group. If you want, I can find out who is responsible for HOGAN in India and send you the contact details.

    Especially the scales for motives, values and preferences help to find people who fit in the culture of your firm. If not, the potential of a candidate will not unfold.

    2) If you build up a team the BELBIN assessment ( could be working fine. I use it for my coaching when I'm coaching portfoliomanagement teams and other investment firms. It has a very intuitive message and it gives the team a common and transparent language for the daily work.

    3) Focus consulting group in USA is a consulting firm that is specialiced on investment industry as we (FCM Finance Coaching) are in German speaking countries. . On the website you will find a lot of papers which are for free, you can listen to webinars and you can make contact to James if you want.

    4) Last but not least here is a book recommendation:
    In this book I wrote an article about the staffing challenge in portfolio management.

    I'm looking forward to hear from you or to follow your discussions in the study group.

    Best regards, Monika

  5. Harish says:

    Nicely summed up, Sadique. Yes, most successful Advisors I have interacted with, have always had to contend with low domain/soft skills of new recruits with over-ambition of the competent. There is no visibility in talent retention. The lure of the corporate ticket adds to the pressure.

  6. Agree Harish… and that is precisely why many planners / advisors are successful as independent… but scaling up the operations is a real challenge.

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