Benchmark Business Group

Navigating The Hiring Landscape

June 1, 2022

Working with financial services professionals across the country, one thing we’ve heard a lot lately is that it’s hard to hire. This isn’t exactly news because it’s something that small business owners in many industries are experiencing.

There is no sugar coating it. The employee market is difficult, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It does mean that it’s time to get competitive. If you’re in the financial services industry you’ve probably heard the saying, “if you win clients on price, you’ll lose them because of price.”

There is an acceptance in the industry that most clients don’t make the choice to be insured by an agency because of just price. Sure, clients may say it matters. They may have a budget. You might have to be in the same ballpark. However, it’s not typically the deciding factor.

Hiring is very similar to this. Yes, pay matters. You must be competitive. And the landscape for what is considered competitive is rapidly changing. It used to be that you could pay $10 an hour and be competitive. In today’s world, chances are the fast-food restaurant down the street is paying more than $10 an hour. The simple truth is that the wage and benefits bar is rising, and your business needs to understand what the bar is in your area. This takes research. Look on, or, and even the Department of Labor ( These sites will help you understand if you are competitive.

If you’re not, that’s the first step. The good news is that in this industry there are so many ways that your team can help create revenue for the agency to afford to pay more. Which means you can increase wages and still grow your bottom line. It is possible. If you’re an Optimal Outcome client, ask your business coach about our Hiring Genie to get started. We also encourage you to not base the majority of pay on commission, or even a bonus, especially for your service team. Again, that doesn’t make you competitive. It forces the candidate to take a risk that they don’t have to take with other companies.

Once you know you’re at least competitive it’s time to take a step back and ask, “Why would a candidate WANT to work with our team?”

The ability to answer this question is the key to your hiring strategy. The good news is that as a small business you have flexibility to create an environment that someone wants to join. A couple factors to consider include:

  • Benefits – This takes money, but it’s doable. If you don’t offer benefits, you severely limit who can work for you. Think about what you tell your clients about benefits. You know the importance of benefits. If your candidates need them and you don’t offer them, they won’t choose to work for you. And if they do, it will be a struggle to get them to educate clients about the value of benefits, when your business doesn't value them enough to offer them to their employees. If you don’t provide benefits, then you need to ensure that the pay allows them to cover them on their own.
  • Working Remotely – Obviously this is a hot topic but continues to be an important option. You don’t have to offer remote work as an everyday option but having some flexibility can help you stand out from others trying to hire the same candidate.
  • Flexible work hours/ time off, etc. – There may be a limit to what you can offer but being able to offer some flexibility can increase your appeal in the market. You must understand what each role needs and not sacrifice what the business needs, but this is an area where you can make a difference.
  • Culture – Small businesses have their own cultures and can be great to attract talent that prefers to work with smaller teams. Highlight your culture. What makes it unique? Why would candidates like to work with your team? What sets your team apart from other businesses?
  • Opportunities – Can this position grow over time? If so, what does that look like? Some candidates will be looking for a long-term career, which is something that the financial services industry can offer. Be cautious though, because if it sounds too good to be true it can scare candidates away. You want to paint the picture of what possibilities exist, but not rely on just future opportunities to create the desire to work with your team.
  • Day-to-Day work – What about the day-to-day work might a candidate enjoy? Is the role all about helping others? Forty hours a week is a long time to spend doing something that a candidate doesn’t enjoy. Pay attention to the job itself and look for reasons that someone might enjoy the work they do day in and out. Is it fast paced? Does it differ every day? These can all be selling points.

Up until the point where you get resumes or applications, hiring is similar to a sales process. First you market the message, then, you must sell a candidate on why they want to work for your company. Why this position? What do they get, besides a paycheck? When you can clearly articulate these answers, you’ll find attracting quality candidates becomes easier.

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