How can an advisory firm flesh out a proper job description to ensure hiring for the needed responsibilities and attracting theright candidates?
We review hundreds of job descriptions each year and, frankly, they all lookalike. Most begin with something to theeffect of, “seeking CFP certificant with(insert of years of experience here) towork with our clients and provide greatservice… ,” or “seeking (insert title, e.g.Associate Planner, here) to put togetherplans and support senior planners… .”
This isn’t the best way to promotea position because titles and years ofexperience do not tell a hiring firmmuch about the candidate.
This likely is due to the lack of consensus on what financial planning trulyis, and what you must do to call yourself a financial planner. There is evenless consistency on titles for the variouscareer stages within a firm. And whilethe CFP Board of Standards has releaseda white paper describing the ideal careerpath for a CFP and corresponding titlesbased on career stage, the approach isnot yet widely adopted.
Therefore, asking for an “AssociatePlanner” or someone with “threeyears of experience” is not an effectiverecruitment strategy, due to lack of common established standards. This standsin stark contrast to other professionslike medicine and accounting, whereemployers understand what they aregetting when hiring for a Tax Manager,or what a hospital can expect a third-year resident to be able to do.
For example, here is a scenario we
encountered with two candidates. Both
were CFP certificants stating they had
three years of experience, which was
accurate based on the resumes they pro-
vided us. However, as we dug deeper,
it became clear that one candidate had
a much higher quality of experience.
Remember, it is not the time that matters, as much as what went on duringthat time.
In this case, both were presentingthemselves as Associate Planners withthree years of experience, but it turnedout one was primarily an assistant typewho had spent most of the last threeyears calculating life insurance needsanalyses, pulling quotes, and completing insurance and annuity applications.The other candidate, however, hadspent the bulk of their time preparing financial plans and co-deliveringthem during several hundred meetings,which was the experience our clientwas seeking.
An unfortunate aspect of these sce-
narios is that the candidate who spent
the time working strictly on the insur-
ance needs was not trying to mislead,
as in fact was adamant that they were
doing “financial planning”… because
that is all others in their organization
had told them. Also, worth noting, is
the CFP Board granted both individu-
als the CFP credential based on these
work experiences, even though one was
obviously much more qualified than
Thus, the more specific a firm canbe when promoting and discussing aposition with potential candidates bydetailing what the candidate’s actualresponsibilities will be, the better. Forexample, “for you to succeed in this position, you will need to be able to or havehad experience with… .”
Here are some examples that may
help get you started:
•Has developed recommendations
and delivered multi-disciplinary
advice to high net worth clients
• Acted as first chair (primary advisor) for at least a few dozen clients.
• Has completed at least 30 full financial plans in MoneyGuidePro.
•Developed prospective clientelefrom your own network and converted to retainer clients.
• Researched and implemented equity positions in client portfolios.
If you take this laser-focusedapproach, and are not generating anyinterest from candidates, your expectations might be too high (at least forthe compensation being offered), and/orwhat you are seeking doesn’t exist. Butthat’s better than the alternative — thatyou don’t know what you want, and thenemploy a big tent approach that leads toa lot of wasted time and effort.
Caleb Brown is a past chairman of FPANexGen and partner in New PlannerRecruiting LLC. He can be reached atNewPlannerRecruiting.com.
THE NEW SCHOOL
By Caleb Brown
How to Hire for Skills, Not Experience
Most firms fail to write job descriptions that specify the talents
needed for new hires.