How to Recruit Financial Advisers – Staying Ahead of the Competition (2024)

Having been recruiting Financial Advisers / Chartered Financial Planners for the best part of a decade, it is safe to say that the competition for talent is as intense as ever.In any candidate driven market, it is essential for all businesses to have a game plan and strategy in terms of talent management, and those operating within the UK private client wealth management / IFA sector are no exception.

We have seen the impact of the Retail Distribution Review, leading to a significant number of Advisers leaving the industry.Since that point there has always been a gap in the market for greater number of Diploma qualified Advisers / Financial Planners.There have been attempts to address this with employers creating graduate training academies, as well as targeting the mid-life career changers.This has had some positive impact, but the short fall still remains, meaning it’s a great time to be an Adviser, in terms of the variety of choice in career opportunities. However, as an employing organisation, there are challenges to be addressed in terms of the best ways to recruit.

Having been involved in client relationships with a variety of national wealth management firms and regional IFAs, I have picked out some of the key points which I think can make or break a successful recruitment campaign.

Ownership of the process

Within the hiring organisation, it’s important for one person or department to have absolute ownership to manage the process from cradle to grave.Someone who will manage the diaries, arrange the interviews, and generally get things done. This could be an HR or internal recruitment professional, or a Director with a hands-on approach to recruiting in their team.Either way, it requires someone from within the business who understands the need for urgency in response to CV submissions, arranging interviews, providing feedback and issuing offers.Time that is lost unnecessarily can potentially lead to candidates losing interest in that business or allowing for competitors to make their move.

An Effective Process and Candidate Experience

This has links to the ownership of the process but if a coherent structure is in place, it makes that person’s role easier to manage.The timescale of a recruitment process is always a key factor andI recommend keeping things as simple as possible.A first stage ‘coffee chat’ which can be face to face, a video / Skype call or telephone conversation, depending on the logistics and geography involved. This is the most common-sense approach to be open and honest, warts'n'all, this is what who we are and what we do, from both sides.

A face to face second stage should be arranged soon after the first interaction. Within a day or two if possible. Don’t wait too long to provide feedback and follow up from the first discussion.If a strong candidate is in a positive mindset after an initial meeting, then momentum is key.I often see hiring managers delaying the next stage whilst they wait for other candidates to compare them to. Don’t make that mistake. If you like someone, you like them.The other candidates may not exist.Particularly in a competitive and tight market like the recruitment of Financial Planners and IFAs.

Is your second stage interview likely to make the candidate feel like they have to jump through hoops to join you? In the longer term context this is about finding someone who you can work with, who can do a good job for your business and, on a personality and cultural level, fit into the team. Does a competency based dissection of their previous experience provide the best way to reach this conclusion? Are role-plays a suitable interview tool? You want to test your candidates and gauge their desire to join your business, but it is always worth respecting that they are also making a judgement on you as a potential manager and the wider business.

More than ever before interviews are seen as a two-way process, so it is worth considering this when establishing what the assessment criteria and process should be.

Realistic Criteria and Specifications

From the outset of the process you should have a realistic understanding of the type of individual you are looking to and able to recruit. This would be in terms of qualifications, relevant experience, culture fit, all of which should link to your own businesses’ salary structure and industry status.Avoid trying to ‘punch above your weight’.Every wealth management firm wants a Chartered Financial Planner with £30m AUM to bring across.This individual will not be hired on a basic salary of £60,000!

It is worth differentiating between some of the ‘essential’ criteria and the ‘desirable’.For example, unless Corporate Chartered status is absolutely at stake with this hire, is it worth recruiting someone with a more motivated, dynamic approach to business development, who may be two exams from Chartered status, than someone who is already there but prefers to be allocated existing clients rather than attend any networking events?

Linked to this point, is that individuals need room to grow and develop.If you recruit someone with a 2-3 year development curve and invest time to nurture them potential, can they become the perfect candidate you have originally requested when composing the job description with the HR team? Added to that, this professional development from their perspective is great at building loyalty for future retention.

Utilising Recruitment Partners

Obviously this a subject close to home, but I think it’s a key point which runs in conjunction to the other parts of a successful recruitment project.In one respect, using too many recruitment agencies can have the potential to dilute your brand in the market.If six or seven agencies are all targeting the same talent pool, is there a consistent message being promoted about your company, the brand, the opportunity, the proposition, the people within the business?If a vacant position is pitched too frequently and mentioned by too many people, what impression does that give off to potential candidates? How motivated is a recruitment professional to work on a vacancy that has been worked to death by other agencies?Sometimes ‘less is more’.

By engaging in an ongoing two-way communication with an experienced recruiter in your industry, you can utilise their knowledge and expertise almost as an in-house consultant. Look for honesty, integrity as well as industry insights and constructive advice to assist you with your recruitment challenges.

Salary Package

It's often suggested that candidates don’t just move for money, but in real terms is someone likely to make a move if the numbers don’t add up? It’s imperative that from the start of the process you understand the salary requirements of the candidate and through a combination of the recruiter and your own hiring manager / HR team, the message is made clear about expectations if it is to reach that scenario.The last thing you need is to reach offer stage of a process only to realise the outstanding candidate, that everybody in the business loves, really does want £10,000 more on their basic.An issue which had been side-lined somewhat as you hoped that by simply ‘liking each other a lot’, could brush over the issue.There are always other reasons for a person to move jobs but at the end of the process, the decision is made once the financial aspects have been considered.


The recruitment of Financial Advisers remains a challenge across the industry and it will always be a difficult to implement a Utopian version of how this should be done. However, if you are involved in the recruitment process for any organisation, I hope some of these points are relevant and provide some food for thought on how you can adapt in such a tight market. If you do need any further guidance or clarification, I am always available to catch up on the phone or in person.

rn@pegasussearch or 07837 657001

As a seasoned professional deeply entrenched in the financial advisory and wealth management sector for over a decade, my experience in recruiting Financial Advisers and Chartered Financial Planners has provided me with a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and dynamics within this competitive field. My involvement in client relationships with national wealth management firms and regional IFAs has allowed me to gain firsthand insights into the nuances that can either make or break a successful recruitment campaign.

In the realm of talent acquisition for the UK private client wealth management/IFA sector, the aftermath of the Retail Distribution Review has created a persistent demand for a greater number of Diploma qualified Advisers/Financial Planners. I've witnessed various attempts to bridge this gap, including the establishment of graduate training academies and targeting mid-life career changers. Despite these efforts, the shortage persists, presenting an opportune time for Advisers due to the plethora of career opportunities available.

Key Concepts Discussed in the Article:

  1. Ownership of the Recruitment Process:

    • Stressing the importance of having a dedicated individual or department with absolute ownership of the recruitment process.
    • Emphasizing the need for timely responses to CV submissions, arranging interviews promptly, and avoiding unnecessary delays to keep candidates engaged.
  2. Effective Process and Candidate Experience:

    • Advocating for a coherent structure in the recruitment process to facilitate the recruiter's role.
    • Recommending a simple and timely two-stage interview process to maintain momentum and keep strong candidates engaged.
    • Highlighting the significance of providing prompt feedback and avoiding delays in the recruitment process.
  3. Realistic Criteria and Specifications:

    • Advising organizations to have a realistic understanding of the type of candidate they are seeking in terms of qualifications, relevant experience, and cultural fit.
    • Cautioning against attempting to attract candidates beyond the organization's capabilities and suggesting a differentiation between essential and desirable criteria.
  4. Utilizing Recruitment Partners:

    • Advocating for a strategic approach to engaging recruitment agencies, suggesting that using too many agencies may dilute the brand.
    • Promoting ongoing communication with experienced recruiters to benefit from their industry knowledge and insights.
  5. Salary Package Negotiation:

    • Emphasizing the importance of understanding and clearly communicating salary requirements from the outset to avoid issues during the offer stage.
    • Acknowledging that while candidates may not move solely for financial reasons, salary considerations remain a crucial aspect of the decision-making process.

In summary, the article provides valuable insights into the challenges and best practices of recruiting Financial Advisers in a competitive market. It underscores the need for strategic ownership of the process, a candidate-centric approach, realistic criteria, effective use of recruitment partners, and transparent salary negotiations to navigate the complexities of talent acquisition in the financial advisory sector.

How to Recruit Financial Advisers – Staying Ahead of the Competition (2024)
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