Better training equals better retention

How to create programs for advisors and leaders at every career stage.

Better training equals better retention

Earlier this year, Shalyn Xiaoqi Lee, BSc, was taking a course and, as part of the classwork, she was tasked with creating an analysis of her agency. 

“We looked at profitability and analyzed agents in year one, year two, and so on, and we compared my numbers to other agencies,” said Lee, financial services director for Prestige Partners in Singapore and an MDRT member. “I found out that my retention rate is almost 100% for the first two years. Even in the third and fourth year, when many people are falling out, my retention rate remains pretty high, at about 70%.

“This means the direction that I’ve been following in my 13 years of leadership is the right direction.”

Lee attributes her success with retention to the standardized training programs she has designed for new advisors, senior advisors and junior managers.

New agent training

When new advisors join Prestige Partners, they take part in a 90-day training program that is done as a learning cohort. They start the training program together and stay together for the next 90 days. “We want them to have the culture of sharing and learning together, and it also creates a certain bonding and competitiveness within the same batch,” Lee said. “The group meets, they come together, they want to do well together, and through this training, they get a shared vision.”

The training includes research, learning, case studies and role play. For instance, if the topic is retirement planning, the new advisors are given 10 questions to research so they have some knowledge before the class begins. The first day on each topic is often devoted to product features and answering questions. The second and third days are mainly role-play opportunities. Throughout the 90 days, the advisors are learning and practicing the skills they’ll need for success: how to talk with people, build relationships, prospect, and open and close a client discussion.

Referral mastery

This training program is for advisors who have been with Lee’s agency for at least two years. It's three full days of in-depth referral training. Participants create scripts, social media postings and e-cards that support referrals. They begin to identify their target market for gaining referrals.

The group of 10 to 20 senior advisors meet once a week for three hours for 10 weeks. Each week they prepare a new script for a targeted group of prospects, role-play and end the class with meeting the targeted group.

Dream makers

This program is designed to train advisors for leadership roles. It’s open to aspiring managers and junior managers, and it meets on a weekly basis. “I realized that new managers are like new agents — it is a totally different role and job scope,” Lee said. “They may be a successful agent but may not be a successful leader yet.”

While advisors have meetings to monitor their sales, Lee realized new managers also need to have training and meetings to monitor who they talk to, what kind of rejection they’re facing and how to find their recruiting market to build their team. She has found new leaders will often revert back to focusing on sales if they’re having trouble as a manager, and the program helps redirect them back into recruiting and training their team.

Delegate trainers

To maintain consistency in the training programs, no matter who’s teaching them, Lee has created standard operating procedures, which include a training manual and standard slides. She delegates trainers for the different programs — often senior advisors and junior leaders — which allows them to develop their training and leadership skills.

“The highest level of learning is through training,” Lee said. “In this process, we are also able to identify potential leaders, and new agents have the opportunity to learn from different senior agents.”

Hire a training assistant

Another important thing Lee did was hire a training secretary. “There are many aspects of coordination and administrative work involved, and I alone cannot handle so many things,” Lee said.

The secretary coordinates the booking of rooms, checks and syncs all the training materials, and keeps track of attendance. In this profession, there are many seminars and training programs, both internally and through third parties, so the secretary checks and updates the training schedule, and updates all trainers and attendees if there are any changes, Lee said.

“Just last year, with COVID-19 and the lockdowns, we had to create training on digital processes. We talked about social media training and other ad hoc training,” Lee said. “There are many situations where you have to be prepared to put a training session together quickly. That’s why hiring someone to fully monitor and focus on this is important.”

What makes a good training program?  A successful training program has five key components, Lee said. 

  • Clear objectives. Trainers and trainees should know what is going to be accomplished each day. They must also understand the reason for each objective and know why learning is important.

  • Opportunities to role-play. Give new agents as many chances as possible to practice their scripts and client interactions to train muscle memory. 

  • Action plans. Information that is not used is often not retained. For senior agents, this may mean getting out and asking for referrals of specific people in a specific way. 

  • Uniformity and repeatability. Write it into a standard operating procedure, so that everyone follows and uses all the same materials. Any of your leaders should be able to do the training. 

  • PESOS: Prepare, explain, show, observe and supervise. 

Contact: Shalyn Lee