Putting yourself into the shoes of job candidates might help in hiring and keeping young advisors. Therefore, to find out what’s most important to candidates when taking a job in financial services, and what they see as “red flags,” or deal killers, the research arm of my company conducted a Financial Services Job Candidate Survey. We used Caleb Brown’s firm, New Planner Recruiting, to conduct the research, in which 322 participants answered the survey questions. The results were pretty striking, and should be helpful to advisor firm owners trying to compete for candidates in today’s talent shortage.
To begin, we found that less than 2% of the job-seeking candidates wanted to have anything to do with marketing and sales. Instead, when asked “What areas of financial services interest you the most?” 78% of respondents answered: comprehensive financial planning. That won’t be as surprising when you hear that 64% either have or are eligible for the CFP. Further, those 36% who aren’t CFPs or potential CFPs, still have a primary interest in comprehensive financial planning. That’s quite a testament to the growing popularity of financial planning as a profession. It also puts your firm at a disadvantage in hiring young talent if you aren’t offering it.
While 78% of the respondents want to do comprehensive financial planning, only 51% want to do it directly with clients. Others weren’t so hands on: 21% want to “help clients behind the scenes” and 23% want to “help manage the business” of advice. And though a majority of job candidates want to work with clients, all three tracks are needed to attract talent in today’s marketplace.
Picking The Right Track For the purposes of the professional career track where working directly with clients is most important, the job candidates seem to be less clear about how long the training takes to actually meet with clients. Here’s how they answered: “How long does it take to work with clients on your own?”
• I can work with clients now (51%) • One year: (17%) • Two years: (17%) • Three years: (8%) • More than three years: (8%)
To put these estimates of a financial advisor learning curve into perspective, here’s the level of industry experience of the participants:
• Less than 1 year: (23%) • 1 to 3 years: (26%) • 4 to 6 years: (18%) • More than six years: (33%)
As you can see, 68% of those polled believe they are capable of working with clients within one year. But at the same time, 51% have at least four years’ experience. Put a different way, 93% of job candidates today believe they can work with clients in three years or less. While that may be unrealistic to you, it is their perception, so you can’t ignore it nor squander it when you are recruiting.
To determine what young advisors are looking for in a job today, we asked: “Which of the following [top three] are most important to you?” Here’s how they answered:
• A firm’s culture: 205 (64%) • How clients are being served: 195 (61%) • A career track for advancement: 171 (53%) • Flexibility in work schedule: 143 (44%) • Mentoring opportunities: 86 (27%) • Benefits: 77 (24%) • Incentive Pay: 75 (23%)
Typical new job seekers are more focused on what their time at the office will be like and their career trajectory than the immediate rewards. Therefore, if you have not invested in your culture, outlined your client experience and have a career track for advancement at your firm, you’re not going to win the talent war.
These responses are very good news for today’s smaller advisory firms. While small firms may not be able to compete on pay and benefits with larger firms, a more collegial and supportive smaller staff quickly can make a new employee feel part of the team. And, once again, a firm that focuses on helping young advisors to get where they want to go career-wise can have a substantial recruiting edge.
Many firm owners might scoff at this, believing recruits are most focused on compensation and incentive pay. But when we asked “What level of pay are you seeking?” only 52% of the responses were the current average rate for young advisors at $65,000 per year or higher; 22% of them said a compensation amount lower than $65,000 per year and 18% said “growth opportunities” and “how the clients were served” mattered more than compensation. The candidates (at least 50/50) really do seem to be more interested in other things than how much money they can make.