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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: Chief Human Resources Officer of the Year


Nomination Title: Andrea Larsen, Chief Human Resources Officer


Individual Essay

Advisor Group (AG) 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.

At the start of 2018, Andrea began with an HR team “Dreaming Session,” and the primary “dream” that emerged was to position Advisor Group as a talent destination, and that the HR team would lead and take actions to achieve this dream. As Andrea explains, “We want to attract and acquire the best people…we want to offer a great culture and reward and recognize for performance and results…We want to engage our employees, and develop our associates.”

Here are examples:

  • Top Talent Acquisition – An external Careers website was launched, with easy access to job postings, and the business social media presence was enhanced on LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Employees were engaged as talent ambassadors with projects such as a new Referral incentive, employee testimonial videos (23), and a companywide drive for employees to improve their LinkedIn photo and content. Back-end recruiting processes were streamlined, cycle time was reduced, and managers were trained on consistent interviewing practices.
  • Cultural transformation – Andrea took steps to transition the business from an “entitlement” culture to a “pay for performance” culture, to support AG’s desire to retain and reward top performing talent in an open and transparent way. Employees tie their goals to business strategy, have frequent check-ins with their manager, create their own career development plans, and receive an annual performance review that covers both the “what” of their accomplishments, and “how” they achieved them. Employees also have visibility to the external market range for their compensation. All employees are eligible for an incentive bonus based on business results and individual performance. Associates have embraced self-awareness and adopted a focus on results versus effort -- and a commitment to employee development.
  • Employee Engagement – Andrea introduced multiple new forums for employees to team across functional boundaries and engage with their peers: roundtables, employee activity, a 22-member Employee Engagement Group, team videos (see attachments), and team-building at frequent community service events.
  • Talent Development – Andrea designed and executed a two-day Leadership Growth Summit for 120 employees, with external speakers, informal executive interactions and breakouts to generate ideas on addressing real business problems (feedback: 4.7 rating on a 5.0 scale). She launched a customized “Leadership Foundations Training” program for managers, delivered in-person at 5 sites, with 5 customized modules based on the most urgent HR needs for managers (feedback: 4.5 rating on a 5.0 scale). Andrea implemented a 360 leadership assessment program for 200+ leaders and other top talent. She also started Executive “Speed Mentoring” sessions in which high potential employees rotate thru a series of executive 1:1s.
  • Employee Communication – Andrea leverages a robust, multi-media employee communications effort to gain positive momentum towards the talent destination goal. Specific examples of stories on culture, process, and strategy successes are issued one after another, 40+ per month. They include employee photos, videos, quotes, and customer feedback to motivate, inform and engage the organization. These are augmented by All-Hands webinars, HR topical webinars, Town Halls and special events.

In the words of the CEO, Jamie Price, “The long-term differentiation of our business has to be its culture and its people…They are the sustainable things that will set us apart from the companies we compete with.”

Andrea Larsen has led the charge to attract and retain best talent for Advisor Group.

Individual Summary

Employee Glassdoor Ratings of Company & its CEOCompany: from 2.6 to high of 4.4; CEO: from 67% to high of 99%; 8X increase in followers. Would refer others: from 18% to high of 90%.

2019 Employee Engagement Survey 90% response rate, Double-digit increases over 2017 results across all six survey categories: work environment, values & culture, intent to stay, benefits, manager and overall engagement.

Diversity Parity Pledge commitment, 50% of CEO staff is female, and 34% diversity in new hires

Customer Satisfaction dramatic leap upwards, from #19 to #3 in just one year, as reported by a leading consumer research firm, double the upward movement of any other firm.