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Comment: How to be a perfect match for new recruits

When it comes to finding like-minded singles in your area, advice firms may be an unlikely place. But by recognising individual differences, firms can make sure they are a perfect match for each new recruit.

Comment: How to be a perfect match for new recruits

Pairing advice firms with new recruits means understanding the needs on both sides. What should firms expect of an aspiring financial adviser? What are new entrants looking for in their first role?

The vast majority of applicants to the Old Mutual Wealth Financial Adviser School (FAS) say the opportunity to work with clients face to face is key. Those who are changing careers in particular identify it as something they are keen on.

Attracting the adventurous

Getting out and about and having truly personal client relationships is a luxury not enjoyed in all career paths. Marketing your business to new joiners as an opportunity to get out of the office, build relationships and get away from full-time digital communications will help attract new starters. It will ensure you are appealing to candidates with the confidence to go out and build client rapport.

Building knowledge

Many applicants are also motivated by an interest in the financial services sector in general and a desire to understand investment markets better. Often they reference their own experiences of investing, or they express an interest in learning not only about the profession but wider financial services.

This can be both positive and negative. On the plus side, a genuine appetite for navigating the intricacies of investment and insurance markets should ensure the profession remains engaging for them. This may be not only as a job, but as a continuous learning experience over the course of a career.

However, there can sometimes be a degree of naivety about what being a financial planner really entails.

Many younger aspiring advisers believe gaining qualified adviser status means they will become instant experts in investment markets. It is vital to ensure new joiners understand the importance of clearly articulating the benefits of long-term investing. They should not get carried away with short-term market noise, regardless of their own private interest in the sector.

A mixed bag of backgrounds

Aspiring advisers come from all walks of life. Some are starting out in their careers, but many are making a change and moving into a different line of work. Some have families and a mortgage, while others have relatively few financial commitments.

Individual circumstances clearly have a huge bearing on their aptitude for working with clients. An adviser with some career experience in other sectors may find a natural empathy with older clients. A career-changer, perhaps accustomed to salaried roles in medium-to-large corporations, may find the prospect of performance-driven remuneration daunting or destabilising.

New entrants coming straight from higher education often lack the ‘real-world’ experience of their older peers. At the same time, they are likely to be malleable and adaptable to the practicalities of life as an adviser, without the baggage of experience in other industries. Many candidates who are embarking on their first career have said the soft skills component of the FAS programme helped them to come out of their shell.

Drawing together differences

All new starters have their strengths and weaknesses, which need to be taken into account during their training period. Keeping a close eye on new recruits during the training process can help you assess and address gaps in their knowledge and experience before throwing them in at the deep end with clients.

In our experience, the trainee adviser’s past experience can always be used as a strength in one form or another. Any shortcomings or insecurities about entering financial planning from an unorthodox background can be overcome.

The important thing is to recognise that advice attracts an extremely diverse group of new joiners, with few unifying characteristics. Recognising the differences in each potential candidate will help firms make the most of their new hire and draw on their unique strengths.

Darren Smith is head of the Old Mutual Wealth Financial Adviser School

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