When Josh Brown sounded the alarm to his 1 million-plus Twitter followers that his firm, Ritholtz Wealth Management, was looking for resumes, Kris Venne’s inbox blew up.
In 2019, we’ll be adding a few more wealth management professionals and client-facing advisors in new cities around the country.— Downtown Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) November 14, 2018
Rock stars only. Our clients have high expectations.
If you think that’s you, tell us here:https://t.co/YZMvEjuCKo
Thanks to that tweet alone, Venne – Ritholtz’s director of wealth management – estimated that the firm received around 60 resumes overnight.
‘When you live in a world like we do when there’s LinkedIn and Indeed and all these companies out there figuring out ways to help add applicants to your pure funnel, when it comes to adding advisors, we don’t really have to worry about that,’ Venne said. ‘Josh has such an enormous audience of advisors across the country. It’s a pretty self-selecting group, right? If you follow along with Josh for long enough, and you’re still interested in sending in interest to become an employee of the firm, it’s fair to say you have a pretty good handle on how we do things.’
Ritholtz is constantly looking to hire new advisors, Venne explained. Though the firm isn’t gearing up for a specific hiring push right now, tweets like Brown’s from two weeks ago remind social media-savvy advisors that the firm’s door is always open for applicants willing to go through the firm’s rigorous interview process, which can take anywhere from four to six months.
‘What we’re looking for is to fiercely protect the most important asset that we have and that’s the firm’s culture,’ Venne said. ‘We have this really familial thing going on with all these employees here and it’s awesome and it makes for an unbelievable work environment.’
Though Ritholtz manages $908 million as of September, the firm currently has a tight-knit group of 11 advisors on staff. To become the firm’s 12th advisor –or beyond—an applicant who emerges out of the hundreds of resumes the firm receives annually must first sit down with Venne, who assesses a candidate’s potential personality fit with the firm with a series of open-ended question which ask an advisor to tell their story and why they’re looking to make a change.
‘I find that when you ask questions that are too pointed and too specific, people end up answering the way they think they should answer, whereas if you just hand someone the microphone and offer very little guidance, they’re going to let you know –whether they realize it or not—what you need to hear,’ Venne said.
After an interview with Venne, prospective candidates then talk to chief financial officer Bill Sweet to assess whether their established practice will bring in enough revenue to align with their potential compensation. Then, director of research Michael Batnick provides a second layer of personality analysis and chats with the candidate to make sure that their investment philosophy aligns with the firm’s.
‘We’re not looking to have everybody running their own individual investment portfolios,’ said Venne, whose firm has a dedicated suite of model portfolios. ‘The idea is we’re hiring advisors to be advisors, to help clients build and maintain their financial plans and the investment allocation that they wind up in is determined by the financial plan, not by the advisor.’
The interview process culminates with the advisor paying a visit to Ritholtz’s New York offices, where the candidate visits for the day and sits down with a host of the firm’s employees.
By then, Ritholtz has a solid idea of whether an advisor is a solid cultural fit. The process is slow for a reason.
‘If someone is driven by the idea that I want to help clients who otherwise are in a compromised position because the advisors and brokers they’re working with are motivated by the compensation, that’s a really powerful indicator for us that they’re on the same page as we are,’ Venne said.