How prioritized recruiting looks to one branch manager

When in doubt, remember RITA.

How prioritized recruiting looks to one branch manager

Even though Rovelita M. Chuaunsu is a Manulife-Philippines high-level branch manager who oversees 80 active advisors, there is only one person who dominates her mind: RITA.

The name is an acronym for “recruiting is the answer” — a shorthand financial services business philosophy, and the explanation of where Chuaunsu directs much of her personal efforts.

“RITA is about the company telling people to recruit or you will die,” she said. “The job of a branch manager is for your team to grow.”

Chuaunsu sets a personal goal of recruiting one new team member per quarter. The unit managers underneath her are expected to recruit six advisors in that time frame. Here’s how Chuaunsu works to meet her primary recruitment goals.

Rewarding referrals

Chuaunsu aims to have a new crop of potential recruits ready to attend career presentations every month. To increase the body count, she incentivizes her current advisors. Anyone who works for her who can convince an acquaintance to attend a presentation receives a Starbucks gift card. The rewards grow much greater if the acquaintance becomes an advisor. The person who made the referral is paid 1,000 Filipino pesos once the new advisor completes a sale.

Supplementing the referrals are professional headhunting efforts. There are 13 full-time recruiters within Chuaunsu’s branch. Their sole job is to sniff out future agents. Once their prospects graduate to productive advisors, the recruiter is awarded a percentage of the overriding commission.

Life-changing career opportunities

Once a class of prospects has been assembled, it’s time to usher them into the monthly career fairs offered by Chuaunsu’s branch. These sessions used to be called Career Orientation Programs but have since rebranded as Life-Changer Events to play up the promise of a career in financial services.

The sessions are often arranged so that everyone in attendance shares certain characteristics. All the candidates in the December sessions were stay-at-home moms. Everyone who came in January once worked as a flight attendant. Sometimes the audience will be only millennials.

Chuaunsu segments the prospective applicants this way so she can maximize the session’s appeal to each group. Her most successful advisors include a former homemaker and former flight attendant, each of whom will be called on to share their stories to an audience that relates to them with ease.

“They can have one language together,” Chuaunsu says. “When they ask the speaker about her struggles, she will have the right answer for them.”

Winnowing the field

Following the Life-Changing Event, each attendee must decide whether to apply, and Chuaunsu must decide if she wants to take them on. Despite her heavy emphasis on recruiting and casting a wide net, Chuaunsu maintains highly selective hiring criteria, even in a country filled with part-time advisors.

Chuaunsu looks for individuals with integrity, honesty, transparency and mutual respect, she said. “And they must be a college graduate. If not, then there must be something in them that I saw during that interview that catches me.”

Integrity is so important to Chuaunsu that she has devised a pass-fail system to determine if someone meets her requirements. This system can perhaps best be described as the dinner party test.

“If you're going to recruit somebody, you have to make sure that this person is someone you can bring to dinner with your family,” she said. “You cannot just recruit a bystander; you have to make sure this person is a person of value, and they will also add value to your life.”

That test may seem a bit severe as an employment requirement. But if Chuaunsu can see herself sharing dinner with the applicant, then certainly financial services clients will be able to as well. And since the human connection is one of the most important aspects of the advisor-client relationship, the dinner test ensures an advisor is able forge such bonds.

Chuaunsu doesn’t withhold her strict criteria from candidates, even if it causes problems. Once, she explained to a man the shared values her branch emphasizes, only to watch him become extremely angry.

“He stood up and wanted to punch me,” she said. “He said, ‘You think I don't have integrity?’”

Chuaunsu insists she wasn’t trying to question the man’s integrity, only communicate how important it is to have integrity in order to work for her. But his reaction proved that she was right to test him with the lecture.

Internal recruiting

Chuaunsu also prioritizes a different type of recruiting — converting part-time advisors into full-timers. Some 30% of her advisors work full-time, with 10% starting as part-time workers.

Much like the Life-Changing Events aimed at industry newcomers, Chuaunsu relies on success stories to inspire part-timers to make the jump. Only now, the story she uses is her own. Once a registered nurse, Chuaunsu left the medical profession to become an advisor, and eventually a super producer, before she was tapped for leadership. Along the way, she was joined by her husband, who abandoned his own business pursuits to become a successful producer himself.

“I can freely tell them that life insurance can really build you as a person,” she said. “Not only that, but it also provides for you. And that's why I'm encouraging them to make it full time. It's not about brainwashing people, but rather exposing people to greatness.”

Contact: Rovelita Chuaunsu