How to improve hiring and retention at your BV practice

BVWireIssue #162-5
March 30, 2016

In a recent BVWire poll, respondents cited practice management the most as their biggest concern for 2016 (to see the full results, click here for a complimentary download). One of the concerns is about hiring and retention, so BVWire asked John Borrowman (Borrowman Baker LLC), a recruiter who has worked exclusively in the BV profession for over 20 years, to comment.

“BV practices will always face challenges when it comes to hiring and retaining the talent required to grow,” he says. “One fundamental reason is that business valuation is a business of judgment, and judgment only comes with experience. This is what creates such demand for staff with two to four years of experience. They have begun to acquire the judgment that makes them more valuable. Paradoxically, that experience/judgment also leads to greater job satisfaction (because things start to make sense) and a stronger disinclination to change jobs.”

What to do: Borrowman says there are no short-term solutions. Over the long-term, he advises practices to do the following:

  • Support the growth of BV-related coursework at the undergraduate level by bringing students on as interns and as full-time hires after graduation. As compared to the general population of finance and accounting grads, these job candidates are “self-selected” for the profession and much less likely to leave your practice after you have invested time and effort in training.
  • Pay careful attention to individualized growth and progress of younger staff. Using a one-size-fits-all approach—or, worse yet, a catch-as-catch-can approach—will undermine retention efforts and can send a practice back to square one in facing the challenge of hiring all over again.
  • Deliver soft-skills training alongside training in financial/analytical skills. The soft-skills training will help staff members grow to the full extent of their capabilities as business developers. Not everyone is cut out for this role, of course. If that means you have to eventually let some go, you will make a more informed decision if you have provided a genuine opportunity to grow.
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