Financial Firms Looking to Hire, but Candidates Lack Key Skills

By Staff Report

May. 24, 2011

Investment advisers expect to increase hiring this year, but job hunters who want to get ahead of the pack are advised to look at the hiring process from the employer’s point of view.

“Firm owners are frustrated with candidates,” Caleb Brown, managing partner of New Planner Recruiting, said at the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors conference last week in Salt Lake City. Among their frustrations are a lack of professionalism, asking for too much compensation and not being forthright about their experience and skills, Brown said.

“They see a deficient passion for the industry,” he said.

The feeling is mutual, said Brown, whose firm specializes in placing entry-level financial planners. For their part, job hunters say that during interviews, employers frequently don’t seem to know what they are looking for in a new hire and they take too long to get back to them, Brown said.

Only about half of a group of beginning advisers in a session on starting out held up their hands when asked how many were looking to join an existing firm, as opposed to going out on their own.

“It’s painful, no matter where you start,” said Karen McIntyre, a wealth adviser with United Capital Private Wealth Counseling, who gave the 50 or so attendees some suggestions on the pros and cons of going it alone or joining an existing firm.

Joining a firm means an adviser can get started more quickly and has some support, though probably less flexibility than going it alone. Going solo gives you freedom, but expect it to take two years before you can start drawing a salary, McIntyre said.

News that might sway some advisers to give their job search a little more time is that broker-dealers and registered investment advisers plan to hire this year, and some plan to make substantial additions. Those results are from a poll by Fidelity Investments, which surveyed 130 attendees at an event held in May.

According to the poll, 43 percent of the executives said that recruiting new advisers or brokers that have existing books of business is their top staffing priority in 2011. Another 19 percent said they plan to mentor and help existing staffers move up to a broker or adviser role. Those who are looking to hire said they may add up to 30 percent more staff in the next year.

“Growth is top-of-mind for many broker-dealers and registered investment advisers,” said Scott Dell’Orfano, executive vice president for sales at Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services, in a written statement. “A strong focus on recruitment, especially as a component of a broader client acquisition strategy, is extremely good news for the industry and speaks to an overall confidence for its continued growth and success.”

Firms are focused on adding new clients, with 60 percent saying that will be the top profit driver this year, while 21 percent said the staff they plan to add will be the biggest driver.

Brown suggested that job seekers demonstrate their willingness to take ownership of the responsibilities of the position they are seeking, and be willing to prove themselves.

Once on the job, “make that firm owner mentor you,” Brown said. Even if the boss is sometimes critical, “don’t take it personally,” he said. “The reason he is doing that is he wants you to be on his level.”  

Filed by Lavonne Kuykendall of InvestmentNews, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email


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