Last month, I took seven plane flights, stayed in three hotels, and rented three cars to visit five CFP Board registered programs: St. Joseph’s, William Paterson, Virginia Tech, Texas Tech and Winthrop University. It was my own little version of planes, trains and automobiles! During these visits, I presented to twelve classes, gave two keynote speeches, spoke to a dozen PhDs (faculty members, college deans, and program chairs), and interviewed a few dozen students. Below are some notable highlights from my trip I thought you might be interested in.
I met a lot of students and had some great, average, and bad interviews. Overall, my experience reinforced the perception that while there are some great new planners out there to hire, there are also a lot who are not well prepared to enter a professional planning firm. For instance…
- Only a handful of candidates confirmed the interview date, time, and place with me beforehand
- Only one candidate brought copies of recommendation letters and a financial plan they had created
- Just 50% brought a hard copy of their resume
On the plus side…
- 50% had a good idea of what type of firm and role they were seeking
- 10% had me convinced they would do what it took to secure that role within that type of firm
- 20% were willing to relocate
- 40% followed up with a thank you note
Some additional observations that stuck out to me when I was on campus and afterwards while reflecting on the plane flight home.
- Not all CFP board registered programs are the same – stay tuned for an upcoming post on the differences between programs that are affiliated with a university business school versus programs that are not.
- Candidates tend to want to go to smaller independent RIA firms providing financial planning and investment management. However, some of the big names in wealth management, such as Goldman, Merrill, Citi, KPMG, etc., are also interested in these students and are investing a lot of resources to get to them first and get them excited about their business model.
- Just like in client acquisition, it takes a lot of time and attention to cultivate a solid talent pipeline. It is crucial to identify talent early on, and not assume that it will be available later. One of the larger programs I visited had few graduating seniors that were seeking employment, because most of them – especially the strongest candidates – had already previously accepted offers.
- Candidates from the same school may look practically the same on paper, but can vary drastically when evaluated in person. In the old days, any decent interviewer could uncover this in the interview process, but a good number of these students are coached and have prepped to handle your questions (they can do a Google search just like you!). Situational questions applicable to your firm work the best. For example, describe a situation you recently had with a vendor, client, prospect and/or staff member and see how they address it, then compare to how you handled. This will give you good insight into their mind. Since the registered programs for the most part are going for the breadth not depth, make sure you have ways to assess a candidate’s communicative, technical, and technological strengths and weaknesses to ascertain if they can do the job you need done. Hint: Asking them what their strengths and weaknesses are wont work, 🙂
- Students are generally fearful about having to sell. They have heard horror stories from some of the grads who came before them who are forced to do “financial planning” by going door to door selling various financial services products. With that being said though, I spend a great deal of time educating new planners that there is a sales aspect to everything – it doesn’t matter what the business structure or compensation model. Some financial planning programs are incorporating sales training and entrepreneurialism type courses into their core curriculum and these candidates are much more polished. Watch for this to become more main stream in the years to come.
In our effort to provide firm owners with the best talent fit for their firm, we will continue these visits and look forward to sharing our encounters.
- Michael will be teaching retirement planning for the IMCA Certified Private Wealth Advisor certification in Chicago on March 7th.
- Caleb will be speaking to the FPA of Northeast New York in Albany on March 15th in Albany, NY http://bit.ly/FPANENYevents
- Check out Michael’s recent blog post “6 ways Your Staff Impacts Your Planning Firm’s Revenue” http://bit.ly/kitcesblog
- Caleb will be one year closer to the average age of a CFP® certificant on March 21st.