This month we checked in with Kevin B., CFP® whom we recently placed into one of the top financial planning firms we represent. He first connected with New Planner Recruiting in December 2016 and received an offer from one of our clients in May 2018, almost a year and a half after he started his search for a full-time financial planning position. We asked him to chat with us about his job search because we believe there is a lot to be learned from his persistence, diligence, and patience.
First, a little background from Kevin, “When I originally contacted New Planner Recruiting back in December 2016, I was working in essentially a client service associate role with some minor sales responsibility for a major US bank in NYC with a wealth management arm. At that time, I was a few years out from college and finishing up my CFP® class work.” Kevin knew that he wanted to shift into more of a financial planning focused position eventually, so his boss, a CFP® professional, encouraged him to pursue the CFP® designation. He completed the CFP® certificate program at NYU in December 2016 and passed the March 2017 exam. “I was looking for a role that was more dedicated to planning, that would help me grow as a CFP® professional. I loved my colleagues and boss and had support to do the CFP® coursework, but they simply did not have a business model I believed in or a next role that fit what I was looking for. The next role was simply a jump to an "advisor" role at a branch location with some existing customers but a heavy emphasis on sales goals and financial products.”
Kevin was looking for a financial planning focused position in a fee-only RIA in the New York City area and was not willing to compromise on that criteria. While this negatively impacted the length of time it took for him to find a position, it also allowed him to be sure that he was only exploring options that were a good fit for his long-term goals. Something that makes Kevin stand out when compared to the average candidate is that he took proactive steps above and beyond just applying for jobs and hoping someone would offer him a position with little effort on his part. “I did several things which took a long time to pay off – but in the end I’m so glad I did them. First I tried to really connect and get to know my NYU professors as I took their courses. My retirement planning professor in particular gave me a few concrete recommendations in the summer of 2016: a couple firms to check out, to talk to New Planner Recruiting, and to join and become involved with the FPA of NY because he was a past president. From there, particularly once I passed the CFP® exam in March 2017, I followed his advice. I joined the FPA and got involved in their Pro Bono and NexGen group, as well as Toastmasters. I contacted New Planner Recruiting in the winter of 2016 after lurking the website on my own for months. And I started reaching out to firms on my own, often through cold emails. All of these took a long time to bear fruit.”
For example, when Kevin first reached out to us, we had some openings in his target area, but they weren’t the right fit. He kept in touch with us and eventually, we reached out to him in August 2017 about a position at “a dream firm in NYC” as he put it. Kevin completed our screening process to assess his capabilities and to ensure we found a good fit. Then we presented him to the firm, but the firm passed on his candidacy. He also made it to the final interview stage with a couple other firms who passed on his candidacy as well. Kevin did not let the rejection discourage him from continuing to pursue a position that he was passionate about. He maintained a relationship with us and unintentionally connected with a couple of guys through FPA NexGen who worked for that “dream firm.” By simply sharing his struggles, asking for advice, and staying connected, those guys went to their boss and advocated for Kevin without him asking. Ultimately, the firm came back to us saying they wanted to interview him and it wasn’t long after their first phone interview that he received an offer.
We asked Kevin how the new position is going, and he said, “I am two months in working as a ‘Senior Advisor Associate’ [at a large fee-only RIA in New York City]. I absolutely love it. Sure there were some trade offs, as the hours are a bit more demanding - but not onerously so. More importantly, I am compensated fairly AND learning a ton. I am doing the creative and analytical planning work I had always wanted to be doing, without undue sales pressure. I actually have the time to do serious and quality planning work for clients and it's explicitly my job to do so. There is also a career path and a number of young advisors who have followed it. I will have to be patient and work very hard to earn that, but being able to visualize the path and work towards it is encouraging. Suffice to say, I'm very happy!”
Hopefully hearing Kevin’s story will encourage you to stick with your search even if it is taking longer than you expected. We are here to help you find your dream job but to stand out as an above average candidate, you must put in the work on your own. Here’s Kevin’s advice, “The financial planning profession is still a young one, and consequently a defined career track is still being worked out en masse. Because of this, you will have to be more proactive and discerning than you might otherwise have to be if you were pursuing say an accounting or law career… You will encounter frustration and rejection along your path to finding the right fit. That's ok. I certainly went through a lot of both! There also is a lot of support out there if you are willing to seek it out and do your part. FPA and specifically the FPA NexGen community were incredibly helpful to me and instrumental in successfully joining the company I'm with today (along with New Planner Recruiting). Lastly, it goes without saying that if you are serious about this profession, you need to demonstrate urgency and do the things considered table stakes by firms today. Enroll in CFP® coursework immediately if you have not done so. Study and take the CFP® exam immediately if you have not done so. Find a position somewhere that will give you experience and build your resume. Do not wait to do any of these things. Without them, you will likely not even be considered by a serious financial planning firm or New Planner Recruiting. Lest you think I exaggerate, I was told explicitly by a firm that the ONLY reason they were interested was because I had done CFP® coursework and passed the exam.”
If this story resonated with you and you are interested in taking a proactive approach to your career search, contact us today. We would love to help you find your place in your dream firm just like we did with Kevin.
Charlotte Jacobs, CFP®