Each of us has some financial goals. Most people try to pay their bills and enjoy some little pleasures, eagerly anticipating the next paycheck. Many unlucky people in the world simply try to survive–that’s their only financial plan (and some fail to meet even that one).
Many rich people also live in this world, however, people who save substantial amounts of money each month and year. People who love to invest and grow their capital–sometimes not knowing why, or how. You will work with them as a financial planner. Or you’ll take care of the capital of a bigger corporation.
You’ll work with the rich, you’ll work with someone else’s money, and that’s definitely better than working with your own capital. Whether they win or lose, you will get your salary (sometimes more than 100K par year) and perhaps also a nice commission here and there.
Financial planner is a great job, but how to get it in an interview? And what questions will they ask you? We will try to find the answer in this article.
Bordering sales, finance, and customer service
Job of a financial planner doesn’t belong either to sales, or to finance and banking. It borders both, and it has something to do with customer service as well. That’s why you can expect a healthy mix of personal and behavioral questions in your interview, targeting different areas of both your personality and experience.
If you want to succeed, you need to present yourself as an excellent salesman. What is more, you have to demonstrate great understanding for common investment instruments and financial products. And they should feel that you have this capacity of building long-lasting relationships of trust with your customers–an essential ability for each good financial planner.
Additional questions will target your motivation, goals, certification, and attitude to various situation you’ll encounter in your financial planning praxis. Let’s have a look at some questions now.
Why did you decide to apply for a position of a Financial Planner?
Try to address two things in your answer: why the job, and why their company/institution.
You can say that your skills and abilities (sales skills, communication skills, extensive knowledge of financial market and instruments) make from you an excellent applicants, plus you love the job description and working with clients is your passion.
If you had a similar job before, you can say that you’d like to continue in your career journey, instead of starting from scratch in a new job field.
In terms of your future place of work, you should praise them for something. An excellent reputation of their financial organization, great training for new hires, amazing employee benefits or famed working environment, or anything else.
They should feel that they are your first choice, that you have a good reason why you applied with them, and not with someone else.
Please tell us something about your experience.
Focus on relevant things–any sales or customer service experience, or anything else you did in finance and banking sector.
More importantly, try to explain what you achieved for your employer, and your clients. Did you help your last employer to increase the sales volume? Did you make some investments for your former clients that eventually turned highly profitable? Did you manage to improve the customer retention in your last job?
Most importantly, avoid negative remarks on your former employer and colleagues, and talk with enthusiasm about the things you did. Interviewers should get an impression that you really enjoy your work.
Try to sell me this notepad (pen, your mobile phone, umbrella, certain loan or financial product).
Simple role play is pretty common in this interview, for an obvious reason: Your sales skills matter, and there’s no better way to test them than a role play.
First of all, do not panic. The worst thing you could do would be refusing the role play (citing lack of knowledge or preparation as your reason).
Interviewers do not expect to hear a flawless pitch from you. But they expect to see some courage. You should give it a shot, to try your best.
Look at the object of a sale (pen, mobile phone, loan, etc), and try to find some features that can bring some benefits to the owner of it. Center your sales talk around these features and benefits–that’s the customer oriented approach.
Ask question to get additional information from your “customer”. And do not forget to close the deal when the opportunity presents itself…
Do you have a certification? (Why didn’t you get your CFP yet?)
Try to convince them that you want to get your certification as soon as possible. Perhaps you didn’t have enough time, or money, or you prefer to work in the field for a few months (or a year) first, to get some practical experience, which will help you with your preparation for the exam.
They should feel that you take your job seriously, and will do everything possible to get better in it. Becoming certified is one of such things…
* Special Tip: Download the full list of questions in a one page long PDF and practice your interview answers anytime later:
What’s the most difficult financial problem you’ve faced with a client? How did you address the problem?
Now, this can be anything from inconsistent cash-flow and poor accounting practices (in business sphere) to sudden drop of income–and inability to repay debts, and job loss or staggering health care costs (for individuals).
Not every problem can be solved, and financial planners are not magicians. But once again, it is your attitude that matters for the interviewers.
For example, you suggested a debt restructuring, or diversifying the portfolio, or you talked your client out of selling the stocks/currency, since you knew (or hoped) the dip was only temporary, and they’d gain later on…
In an ideal case you should describe a problem you solved. But even when you did not solve it, you can still present yourself as a customer oriented and loyal financial planner.
Imagine that we gave you one one million dollars right now to invest. What would you do with the money?
Maybe you’d run away and enjoy life in some third world country, or on a tropical island, but certainly that’s not what the interviewers want to hear :).
Avoid suggesting any speculative investments, such as cryptocurrency or high-risk startup investments. Such investments are fine with your own money, but not when you work for a company, or with clients’ funds.
You can either say that you’d diversify the investment, buying some real estate, some gold, and some tech companies stock, or you can even go for a very low-risk options, such as saving bonds or dividend-paying stock of Fortune 500 companies.
Actually you can try to gather more information, asking additional questions before answering. What level of risk are they willing to accept? What are their long term financial goals? Level of liquidity they prefer for their investment?
Show them that you do not blindly throw money here and there. You always try to understand the exact expectations and plans of your client, and just then decide about investing (or not investing at all).
Other questions you may face in your financial planner interview
- How do you ensure to keep your knowledge of industry best practices and regulations up to date?
- How do you feel about making cold calls?
- Can you tell us something about your existing client portfolio?
- If we hire you for this job, how do you imagine a typical day in work, and what will be the first thing you’ll do when starting?
- Imagine that I have no knowledge of financial terminology. Try to explain to me cryptocurrency and the investment opportunity it offers.
- In your opinion, how often should we be in touch with our existing clients?
- Here is our cash flow statement for the last fiscal year. Please study it briefly, and tell us your observations (recommendations).
- Do you have any experience with statistics, financial analysis, or budgeting software? How do they help you in your work?
- What do you consider the biggest failure of your professional career?
Conclusion and next steps
Interviews in financial planning belong to difficult job interviews. You typically won’t compete with many people for the job, but you’ll have to deal with tough personal and behavioral questions, short case studies, and perhaps also with a role play (to test your sales skills).
Try to polish your knowledge of basic financial indicators and instruments, and check the latest stock market trends and investment “news”, before you go to interview for the job.
Do some research about your prospective employer, what kind of clients they work with, or what they typically invest into.
And do not forget to practice your answers to the questions from our article, and read also other articles on InterviewPenguin.com:
- Body language in an interview – say the right things without words, avoid making unconscious mistakes
- Salary negotiation tips – get what you deserve, or even more, once you talk salaries in an interview
- Finance and banking interview questions
Luck favors the prepared mind. Prepare better than your competitors, and improve your chances of succeeding in this interview…