Financial planning is a rewarding career with a strong career outlook. While financial planning jobs are plentiful, the competition for them is intense, making the job interview of the utmost importance. First impressions matter. A good first impression gives you an immediate advantage. A bad one, on the other hand, can put you in a hole that can be insurmountable. Dress to impress, arrive early, look your interviewer in the eye, and offer a firm, confident handshake.
Once the interview is underway, your responses dictate your performance. For this reason, it is wise to anticipate questions and know how you are going to respond. The following questions frequently arise during interviews for financial planning jobs.
- Financial planning is a highly sought after career in which younger generations need advice on how to start saving and investing and older generations are on the brink of retirement.
- Obtaining the proper credentials, such as the CFP or CFA designation, can be helpful, but being a friendly and personable person is also a key factor in success.
- In a job interview, expect to be asked about financial industry knowledge and jargon. Be honest if you don’t understand something or don’t know what the interviewer means.
Describe your educational experience
There are no strict educational requirements for those planning to become financial planners. A person with a proven track record of investing success can get a financial planning job even if they majored in art history or have no college degree.
That said, the job market is competitive and employers look for something in your experience that sets you apart from the rest. If you majored in economics, finance, or statistics, or better yet, you have an MBA, that’s easy; highlight your degree and how your education has prepared you for a career in financial planning.
However, if your major is not in finance or you didn’t finish college, you need to get creative. Don’t avoid the question, because good interviewers figure this out in no time; Move as quickly as possible to other relevant non-school experiences in your environment that demonstrate that you are ready for work.
What certifications and designations do you have?
The best financial planners carry specific designations that indicate that they have mastered an area of their craft. The most common is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation, which requires you to pass an exam that tests your level of in-depth knowledge in a wide range of financial planning topics.
Responding that you have your CFP gives an immediate boost to your candidacy. However, if you don’t have a CFP or other industry-specific designation, such as a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), highlight a concrete plan to study for the exams and earn these certifications within a specified time frame.
The 2020 median salary for a personal financial advisor was $ 89,330.
Whether you currently have industry-specific designations or have a defined plan to obtain them, either way, you inform the interviewer that you are a serious candidate who is willing to invest in yourself and your future.
Tell me what you know about (esoteric industry term)
Some interviewers will test your specific knowledge of financial planning. They want candidates who require minimal remedial training and who hold hands. Therefore, it is important to study the ins and outs of the field and be prepared for any technical questions the interviewer may ask you.
In the worst case, the interviewer asks about a term with which he is not familiar. Do not panic. Also, don’t try to evade the question. Often times, people get away from a question they can’t or don’t want to answer by mentally replacing it with the question they wish they had received and answering it instead.
While this tactic seems to work for politicians in televised debates, it is a bad idea during a job interview. Not only does it tell the interviewer that you don’t have the answer, but it also makes you look greasy and insincere. Keep it simple. Admit that you are unfamiliar with the term and confidently state that it is a work in progress, that you are always learning and growing in the profession. At that point, prove your worth by offering unique information that you know.
The bottom line
Preparing for a financial planning job interview is similar to preparing for any other job interview. The more you prepare and know about the career in question, the better your chances of landing the job. For financial planning, understand key industry topics, read the latest financial news, highlight your skills and qualifications, and be honest about what you know and what you don’t know.