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How to Interview for Financial Advisor Jobs

Updated on October 31, 2012

Financial Advisor Careers

Interviewing for a position as a financial advisor is in many ways not unlike interviewing for any other role. You must present yourself as a professional individual who is eager to succeed. There are many different types of financial advisors in the financial services field. Yet there are a number of differences in what employers within the financial services field may place an emphasis on. Many of these differences are based on the differing business models that financial firms often embrace. If you are planning to enter the financial industry, let’s first look at these institutions in terms of business models to understand what it is that they look for in an employee.

Life Insurance Companies

Most Insurance firms use the title Financial Advisor liberally. They often may be an individual who focuses almost exclusively on the insurance business. Often this involves life insurance along with other areas of coverage such a disability and long term care. Some are more investment product based. The first thing to be prepared for is that these are typically full commission jobs that do not carry a salary. Often they are at times offering potential employees as a recoverable draw against future commissions. As such, it is important to demonstrate that you are an independently motivated individual. Employers are looking for someone not afraid to network within professional groups. They expect you to present yourself at all times as someone whom is capable of putting themselves in a position to generate business without a great deal of help from a financial firm beyond initial training. I would refer to this as professionally aggressive. You in many cases you need to be able to embrace the idea of sharing expenses with your employer for things like purchasing lists of leads or office supplies. All this means an individual should avoid posing questions on an interview to a potential employer that reference things like vacation time, tuition reimbursement and dental plans. You as the potential employee need to show that you are not intimidated by sales goals, but rather motivated by them. Insurance companies are essentially looking for someone who wants to run their own business. In turn they need to show a willingness to act as small business owner…taking risk, carrying part of the expenses and in turn will be able to operate under the company flag.

Wire House Brokerage Firms (Full Service)

Under the full service model, a financial consultant is expected to often have a similar approach towards the sales practices of building a business. You are again expected to be professionally aggressive. You will again be expected to generate business primarily on your own while held to a minimum amount of sales production. Most investment firms do typically expect that you have some kind of a basis in investment knowledge. There is typically a training program that will take a new financial advisor through the FINRA licensing exams. However, most of these are regulatory in nature and you should demonstrate some degree of awareness about how financial markets work in an employer interview. Yet once again, you will be in a role that is primarily sales based. Therefore you should first approach the interview as a salesman who can relate to people and not afraid to network while presenting to large groups. Any past public speaking experience would likely be viewed as a plus. Many financial institutions often look for individuals that have had a past teaching backround. They view this as the ultimate ability to communicate ideas and concepts. If you have such experience, don’t be afraid to share it.

Registered Investment Advisors (RIA’s)

In the world of RIA’s the emphasis for each new employee will still have a sales capacity. However RIA’s as a business model do not sell financial products, but rather consult with and often manage money and other assets for clients. Due to the fact that they do not sell products, they very often limit the number of households that each advisor maintains a relationship with. When interviewing for such a position, many of the same qualities of professionalism and the ability to communicate ideas will be of great importance. Yet, RIA’s will very often place a greater emphasis on relationship management. They tend to look for much lower turnover rates among employees. So as a result they tend to want well rounded employees in terms of their knowledge of all aspects of financial planning. It is a good idea to approach this type of an interview by stressing the pursuit of professional designations such as that of a Certified Financial Planner. Other designations are at times sought by RIA’s from a potential employee. Among them are the CFA, ChFC, EA & CPA designations. While many people who hold these designations often work for insurance firms and wire house broker dealers, they are nearly a requirement to be a successful RIA. Don’t approach an interview with an RIA by touting past sales awards. They often go to great pains to present themselves as the anti sales organization. Instead focus more on academic achievements as well as communication abilities. Whether true or not, RIA's view themselves as providing a higher level of more comprehensive advice.

When looking at the career path of a financial advisor, you should first consider whether or not you are a people person. Do you like engage people in a way that allows you to understand and address their concerns ??? Are you highly motivated as a self starter ??? These things are going to be universal in the world of financial services. However, there are differences in the approach to client management that are taken in each area of the industry. Which one is most likely to suit you is something you should consider before you pursue a new career.


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    • LandmarkWealth profile image

      LandmarkWealth 5 years ago from Melville NY

      Thanks. We'll I can tell you that I founded Landmark in the Fee Only model. I no longer carry my FINRA or insurance licences. We sell NO investment products or insurance. We are compensated strictly on an asset based fee structure. Unfortunately we are not hiring at the moment. However, that may change in the future. My firm will likely remain based in the Long Island NY area. If your plans are to work in the region, you can contact me via the web page. At a minimum I can put you in contact with the right people who may be hiring.

    • profile image

      Doll 5 years ago from Lasalle, NY

      Hello. Thanks for the helpful article. I was wondering if you had any specific tips for interviewing with the Landmark Wealth Management firm. My major is in Accounting but I have always been interested in financial analysis. Thank you in advance.