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Gold Stevie Award Winner 2019, Click to Enter The 2020 Stevie Awards for Great Employers

Company: Advisor Group, Phoenix, AZ USA

Nomination Category: Achievement in Compensation Design and Administration


Nomination Title: A Multi-Pronged Strategy to Better Attract, Retain and Reward Top Talent


Achievement Essay


Advisor Group is one of the largest networks in the U.S. of independent financial advisors, overseeing more than $268 billion in client assets. The company’s 1,000+ employees, stationed at offices in 5 states, serve more than 7,000 customers in a fast-paced, dynamic industry. The past 18 months have been a time of growth and vitality: the business added 2,000 more customers (+35%), launched multiple new services, integrated 3 major acquisitions, and addressed significant new regulatory requirements.

The efforts of the 17-member HR team were key to the culture change and employee engagement required to support the needs of the business.

The business goal is to ensure employee confidence that compensation is competitive with the marketplace and fairly administered.Under prior ownership, employees were in the dark on compensation: how it was determined, why decisions were made, and when (or if) to expect any change.

HR engaged in a cultural change movement that is based on the word moremore information, more understanding and more engagement by employees in compensation decisions and processes.

In 2018, HR introduced a multi-pronged strategy to better attract, retain and reward top talent:

  1. Market-Based Pay
  • Decisions are now made based on the best current market-based surveys available, focusing throughout the year on the latest, competitive data to remain a talent destination;
  • Calibrated compensation assures that employees stay “current” on market pay trends and are not misaligned with new hire compensation; and
  • Total compensation focus implemented to include annual bonus incentives for 100% of the population.


  1. Pay Transparency Culture
  • Employee’s pay range and target total pay (including bonus target) is accessible to employees on-demand through our robust employee information portal in Workday;
  • Included with pay range information is the placement of the employee in the range (below market, at market, above market), thus allowing meaningful discussions about pay, performance, competency, and career progression;
  • HR business partners are readily available to discuss market range placement with managers and employees; an estimated 20% of their partnership is focused on value- added compensation conversations; and
  • Internal job postings include pay ranges, empowering employees to make informed decisions about their career growth at the company.


  1. Calibration & Competency Rigor
  • Annual calibration ensures talent aligns with company goals, employee roles, skill competency, and appropriate compensation;
  • Goals allow easy understanding – just three words in our determination of current competency: emerging, skilled or advanced; and
  • Pay range placement cascaded regularly to accurately reflect calibration efforts.


  1. Pay for Performance Structure
  • A true culture of pay for performance was created and now embraced by employees, evidenced by a 70% drop in pay-related issues brought to managers and HR;
  • 100% of employees share in the success and growth of the companythrough an incentive plan, supporting an inclusive environment in which everyone pulls together to meet overall company goals; and,
  • Achievement of AG financial performance goals creates the bonus “pie” (and everyone wants a slice!), with employee share adjusted for individual employee accomplishments in alignment with pay for performance.


  1. Total Reward Communication
  • Financial results are shared with employees at town hall meetings, and the employee excitement at receiving regular financial information is palpable. Now employees are actively tracking company and personal goals to make certain the company exceeds targets -- growing the bonus pool.
  • For the first time ever, in 2018 Total Reward Statements (all cash compensation and benefits data) became available to employees on-demand from Workday --- taking pay transparency up another level.
  • Valuing Voice of the Employee, in 2017 and 2018, employee engagement surveys were conducted to include questions about employee compensation. Results were used to determine where to focus funds to improve total rewards.


Top Accomplishments

  1. Easy Access to Information - Broad-based Single Sign-On (SSO) has been added so employees can review data, change information, recognize colleagues through our recognition program, and perform a variety of transactions with convenience.
  1. Accuracy in pay - With approximately 32,400 paychecks issued each year, we have over 99.8% accuracy in payments to employees – on-time, bi-weekly with results always available on Workday for employee view of past and current data.
  1. Compensation Education Engagement – Employees awarded high scores in 2018 to programs delivered on pay structures (total average score: 4.41/5.0) and on the annual compensation planning (base and bonus) cycle (total average score: 4.86/5.0).