John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker LLC

Franklin, TN

Pricing pressures were impacting BV practices even before the recent downturn.  There’s no reason to believe they won’t remain, just because things get better.  How will you meet those challenges?

Hiring from the college campus may be a way.

The best defense for the challenge of downward pricing pressures is a good offense.  Building or strengthening your brand helps confer immunity from some of that pressure.  Not all of it, though.  Smart practice leaders will also want to reduce average hourly costs, most likely by leveraging work further down the food chain.

At the same time, it may look to you like you’ve pushed that work down as far as you dare; that trying to incorporate a pure, entry-level staffer will cost too much in supervision and training.  Hiring that staffer – or, rather, the right staffer – from a college campus could prove to be a better solution than you thought.

BV, and BV-related coursework, has become a part of much undergraduate and graduate curriculum for many of the same reasons that the profession, itself, has expanded.  Students recognize the career potential in BV in ways they might not have a half-dozen years ago.

Here’s what you can do:

Identify schools/professors. Start by surveying your own staff about the content of the curriculum at their schools. Invite your staff to re-connect with a favorite professor.  Assign someone to research curricula at nearby schools where you may not already have a contact.

Offer something of value.  Most schools will have a finance-related student organization.  It may be a chapter of Financial Management Association or the campus Finance Club. Offer to bring a practical example of a concept they’re working on in the classroom. Practitioners who can speak from real-world experience are highly valued.

Be prepared to interview.  Once your appearance is set, offer an additional sixty to ninety minutes for one-on-one conversation with students recommended by the organization’s sponsor because of particular interest or aptitude.  These “interviews” might actually be scheduled in space normally available through the appropriate career development office.  Even if you’re not prepared to hire at that time (which you should make clear in advance), the students gain valuable exposure and you get a much better sense of the talent that could be available if and when you’re ready.

Over the long-term, campus hiring could play a key role in responding to pricing pressures and maintaining the quality and profitability of your practice.

John Borrowman