When you apply for a position with a finance firm, your prospective employer must make sure you are truly ready for the responsibility of handling clients’ money. A job interview for a financial advisor position will be exacting, and you will need to present yourself at your best by giving clear and well-thought-out answers.
It’s not that there are right and wrong answers—the best responses are always the honest ones—but you should take some time to get your thoughts and words together before the interview.
Financial Advisor Interview Questions
These questions include a combination of behavioral interview questions, questions about your knowledge of regulatory issues, and job-specific questions designed to determine your ability, qualifications, skills, and potential for success.
Some questions are designed to fathom what kind of person you are, such as “Why do you want to be a financial advisor?” and “Are you connected to the community?” Your prospective employer wants to make sure that you are a good match for the company culture.
A related group of questions will address your character and your approach to your career, such as “Describe a time when you had to help someone make a difficult decision,” and “What are your career goals? Where do you want to be in five or 10 years?”
Some questions might vary depending on where you are in your career. For example, if you lack experience in finance, your interviewer may ask about your experience in other fields that demand a similar skill set, such as sales. If you are an experienced advisor, on the other hand, the interviewer will ask about the average portfolio of your clients, the tailored investment strategies you would recommend to different types of clients, and similar questions.
In either case, you should elaborate upon the information provided in your resume by discussing your education and professional development as they relate to the position you’re interviewing for.
Not only will your interviewer need to know what licenses and qualifications you have now, but also what plans you have to acquire additional licenses and certifications.
Soft Skills/Interpersonal Skills
A group of questions will address your professional style and some of your related soft skills. Especially if you are at an early stage in your career, your interviewer may ask, “Are you comfortable meeting with clients in person and talking to them on the phone?” Or the interviewer may ask you to, “Tell me about your ability to establish rapport with prospective clients.”
Wealth Advising Skills
Some questions will be more industry-specific and practical, such as, “What are your preferred wealth management strategies?” or “How do you stay current on tax and investment laws and regulations?” Depending upon the firm you are interviewing with, you may be asked about any areas of specialization: “Which specific demographic groups do you target?” “Do you specialize in particular stock options?” “Tell us about your experience with pre-divorce financial planning.”
How you respond to your interviewer (your body language, tone of voice, personal composure, and professionalism) is just as important as your answers since the hiring committee will be assessing how well you might communicate in person with an actual client. They will want to see if you can keep your cool when challenged and whether you have the integrity to safeguard private client information. Along these lines, prepare for difficult questions such as, “If I were a client, why should I work with you?” and “Without compromising any confidentiality, tell me about your success in wealth management for your clients.”
Technical and “Trick” Questions
The question, “How do you achieve your goals?” might sound like a character assessment, but it is a technical question. Not everyone can set and achieve goals, but a competent financial advisor must. Get ready to describe your method succinctly and clearly. Another group of hidden technical questions involves how you build relationships with clients of different experience levels. Prepare to discuss how you respond to tricky situations, including confrontational or escalated clients.
A question like “If we hire you, what do you bring to the organization?” is your opportunity to talk further about your strengths as an employee. Depending on the position you are applying for, this might also be your opportunity to talk about your ideas for the company, what suggestions you’d offer, or what changes you might try to implement.
These answers should be expressed in a consultative, non-judgmental manner—don’t risk appearing to criticize your potential employer.
Behavioral Interview Questions
Interviewers ask behavioral interview questions to learn how you have handled common workplace or client relations challenges in the past. The premise is that how you responded in the past is a good gauge of how you would react should the situation occur in the future.
The best way to respond to these questions is to use the STAR interview response technique to formulate an anecdote to share with the interviewer. Using this technique, you would outline a relevant Situation that you encountered, the Task or challenge involved, the Action you took, and the Results of this action.
Say, for instance, that your interviewer asks, “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a dissatisfied client.” A good response should demonstrate exactly how you achieved an optimal outcome. Here’s a sample answer:
It’s been my experience that clients are as loyal to their long-standing financial advisors as they are to their physicians or dentists. A few years ago, when one of our senior partners retired, I was assigned her client list. One of her chief clients was convinced that no one – especially a young “whippersnapper” like me, could handle his financial affairs as well as she had done. During our initial meeting he challenged every suggestion I made, threatening to withdraw his business from our firm unless he was assigned a more “senior” advisor.
I was able to gain his trust, however, by sending him a snail-mail letter immediately after our first meeting, on our firm’s stationery. In it I explained that, while I would be happy to connect him to a more senior advisor, I would be grateful if he would at least first consider my credentials to be his financial advisor. I briefly outlined my list of certifications and a few recent client successes, as well as attaching my resume. I also gently suggested that he contact his previous advisor to see what she would recommend.
It must have been a decent “sales pitch,” because he set up a meeting with me immediately and we’ve had a great relationship ever since. He really just wanted to feel like he was being listened to and was in control of the process.
Tips for Acing the Interview
Throughout your interview, be honest and straightforward, without appearing over-confident or puffing yourself up in any way.
On the other hand, you do want to present yourself in a good light. If your interviewer asks you to explain why a client would want to work with you, or what you can bring to the organization if hired, have a positive and persuasive answer ready.
Remember: if you are hired, your employer will gain as much by their association with you as you will gain from having the job.