People have various opinions about Financial Advisors. Some respect them and would entrust them with their life savings, while others despise them and will never answer a phone call from one.

Think twice whether this really is a job you want to have. Many studies proved that, regardless of their education and certification, financial advisors did not really help their clients to save more money as they would save without their help.

In rather interesting research studies monkeys were throwing darts on a target at random (hitting either “buy” or “sell”, or in another case hitting a name of stock which brokers should buy). Interestingly enough, 98 out of 100 monkeys beat the US stock market… And they actually did better than many professional financial advisors!

Nonetheless, this isn’t a bad career, you can earn a lot of money as an advisor, and you will typically spend a lot of time in meetings (which is something many people like to do).

If you decide to pursue this career with a brokerage firm, investment bank, or any other financial institution, you will have to pass an interview. Let’s have a look at the questions they will ask you, and how you should answer them.

 

Why do you want to work as a financial advisor?

Do neither get carried away, nor show unrealistic expectations of the job. Saying that you want to be a Financial Advisor because you like to help people would be (nearly) like saying that you want to work as a butcher because you like animals…

Say rather that you love to work with money, have strong sales skills, and enjoy meeting all kinds of people. You can also say that you believe to have good knowledge of different investment products (especially if you went through a training program or certification), and will be able to give good advice to your clients.

Shaking hands at the start of an interview

Why do you want to work for our bank (company)?

Try to praise them for something. Perhaps their attitude to customers, the protection and guarantees they offer to clients, the wide portfolio of investment options, top-notch training program for new hires, or anything else.

Researching about the company you should find something positive about the way they do their job, something worthy of praise.

In fact most reviews and ratings you will find (of any financial institution) will be negative. But this is becasue a few satisfied clients would come back to leave a positive review, while nearly everyone dissatisfied would leave a negative one… Do not get discouraged by the reviews you find online–they never tell the entire truth, doesn’t matter whether positive or negative prevail.

 

Try to sell me this pen (notepad, mobile phone, etc).

At the end of the day, a  financial advisor must be a good salesman, before they can become successful in their job.

Nobody will entrust you with $10, let alone with $100 or $1,000 each month, unless you can convince them that it makes sense, unless you can sell them the idea to invest their savings into something.

Therefor you can expect at least one role play in an interview. Now, the key isn’t to give them a perfect sales pitch–nobody expect it from you, and it is not easy to make such a pitch about an ordinary pen or a mobile phone!

The key is to show courage, to try the role play (if you refuse to do it they almost certainly won’t hire you), to ask questions, to try to find out what they are looking for in a perfect pen (notepad, investment, etc), and to lead a discussion with them.

Non-verbal communication is equally important in this case. Try to keep an eye contact, and speak with enthusiasm.

Remember that if someone doesn’t feel your enthusiasm about the thing you try to sell them (whatever it might be), they won’t buy it from you.

Role play isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Enjoy the moment, show courage, and try your best!

 

Why do you want to work with our target group? (What group of people do you want to work with? )

The best answer is probably that you know how to sell to that group, that they feel good around you, that they trust you.

But you can also say that you have experience with financial products intended for the particular demographic group, and want to specialize further in the field.

If the question is different (you should choose the group), the situation gets trickier. Unless you know the profile of their typical customer, you should say that you have no special preference, and are looking forward to work with any customer/prospect.

Young applicant for a financial advisor job interviews in front of two older recruiters from a bank

How do you feel about making a cold call?

Financial Advisory is about relationships. But each relationship starts with the first contact, and in a case of this job it will often be a phone call.

I am 100% sure that you got such a call at least once (I get a call, from any kind of financial advisor or broker, at least twice a month, sometimes from people I never heard of working for strange foreign companies), and you probably rejected the offer.

Or you hung up, without even talking to them for one second. I sometimes do the same, but other times I find it funny and talk a bit with the advisor–before refusing their offer.

And exactly this will happen in your new job :). People will hang up, they will reject. At least most of them. Ninety percent, maybe ninety-five, or even ninety-nine… Can you handle that?

The key is to show the interviewers that you are not afraid of rejection, that you know that each NO you hear from someone brings you closer to a coveted YES, which will always eventually come.

You can even say that cold calls form important part of the job, and you understand their value, and know you have to make them to eventually become a successful Financial Advisor.

 

Do you prefer to earn your money through fees, or a fixed salary?

In reality, you will typically experience the combination of the two. You will have a plateau, a fixed salary (not a particularly high one), and you will earn extra money on fees.

But read the job description carefully since some institutions (especially brokerage firms) may pay you only on a fee basis (you close no deals, you get no money…)

Anyway, to demonstrate that you are confident of your sales skills, you should say that for sure you want at least part of your compensation to be fee-based. You want to sell a lot, and you know you will make more money this way. At least that’s the impression you want to make on the interviewers…

 

Behavioral questions you may get in your Financial Advisor interview

Behavioral questions test your attitude to various situations that happen in a job, such as problems with motivation, conflict with a colleague or a customer, meeting a deadline, etc.

While they won’t necessarily ask them in every interview, you will nearly for sure get at least some of them in big investment banks. For example:

  • Describe a situation when you were under pressure in work. How did you handle the pressure?
  • Describe a conflict you had with your colleague, or with a client.
  • Describe a situation when you went above and beyond with your service for a customer.
  • Describe a situation when you reached a goal and tell us how you achieved it.
  • Describe a situation when you had to motivate someone in work, or when you struggled with motivation.
  • Describe a time when you had to deal with an angry or upset client (customer).
  • Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your client. How did you manage to get your message over?
  • Describe the biggest failure of your professional career.

Special Tip: Pro answers to these questions exceed the purpose of this informational article, and they shouldn’t be available to everyone. If you need help with tough behavioral questions, check our Interview Success Package. Thank you!

 

Summary and next steps

Personal questions, behavioral questions, and a role play. Interview for a Financial Advisors seems to be very difficult, but it is not always the case.

While you may compete with fifty other applicants while trying to get this job in a prestigious investment bank or brokerage firm, and will need all your skills and great answers to succeed, you may face virtually no competition in an interview in a smaller company, or one with a below-average reputation.

Consider your situation wisely, and prepare accordingly. I wish you good luck!

 

May also interest you:

  • Phone Banker interview questions – Do you like spending hours on a call, sitting in front of a computer? Can you up-sell the client of a bank while talking to them on the phone? They will test it all in an interview.
  • Private Equity interview – There’s no way you can trick the interviewing panel in this case. Many case studies, tests, and practical and behavioral questions will help them to create a perfect picture about you.

Matthew Chulaw

Matthew has been working in international recruitment since 2008. He helps job seekers from all walks of life to pursue their career goals, and to prepare for their interviews. He is the founder of InterviewPenguin.com website.
Matthew Chulaw

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