Insights - 15 November, 2022

10 Things Financial Services Employers Should Look for in a Candidate

There's a lot that goes into choosing the perfect candidate for a particular role. Recruiters have to look through hundreds of resumes, compare skills and qualifications, and conduct dozens of interviews and evaluations to ensure they're making the best decision for their financial services organization. But as Monster statistics discovered, recruiter confidence in finding the right candidate has fallen from 95% in 2020 to 91% in 2022. Why did it happen?

In the confusion of most interview processes, hiring managers tend to lose their focus on what exactly they are looking for when considering candidates. They hustle to fill the position with a “skills-fit” individual, while not paying attention to many other essential qualities a good advisor should possess.

Check out our list of the top 10 things financial services employers should consider when hiring. Whether you're looking for someone with strong skills in a certain area or someone who is a good cultural fit, we've got you covered. So, before you start your next interview process, be sure to read this post.

1) Positive Attitude

When it comes to employee qualities, both recruiters and the financial managers they recruit for tend to undervalue a positive attitude. But while skills and experience are undoubtedly important, intelligent employers understand that these things can be learned. What is more difficult to teach is the right attitude. After all, a positive attitude is the foundation of a strong work ethic.

A positive employee is someone who is enthusiastic, motivated and has a can-do approach. Such candidates are more likely to be productive, cooperative, and successful. In an interview setting, a positive attitude shining through can also make a candidate more likable and memorable. This type of employee is a great asset to a financial services company as it will help to create a positive and inspired work environment.

2) The Ability To Learn Quickly

As we mentioned before, most new skills and knowledge can be gained. In fact, 63% of organizations would be willing to hire someone with transferable soft skills and then train them up to full proficiency, according to Monster research. Therefore, the ability to learn quickly is one of the main qualities that employers should be looking for in a future financial associate.

As new technologies and areas of knowledge are always emerging, and organizations and systems are constantly evolving, lifelong learning becomes an extremely valuable quality in the modern day. A financial professional who does not learn new skills quickly risks falling behind, regardless of their expertise or position. A willingness and, eventually, an aptitude to learn are crucial characteristics of a competent employee, not just for acquiring new hard skills but also for professional and personal development.

3) Good Communication Skills

Many financial services employers place a high premium on good communication skills when looking for candidates to fill the positions. After all, effective communication is essential for ensuring that tasks are completed correctly and efficiently. Furthermore, good communication can help to build relationships of trust and respect between employees and managers. Such employees tend to be effective leaders, team players and problem-solvers. 

In the employment process, candidates who demonstrate strong verbal, written and interpersonal communication skills are often more likely to be offered a job than those who don’t. Therefore, good communication skills are essential for success in the workplace.

4) A Strong Work Ethic

In today's competitive job market, financial services organizations should be looking for candidates who have more than just the bare minimum qualifications. They want employees who will go above and beyond to get the job done and who will be committed to the company's success. 

A strong work ethic is an employee's commitment to performing their best work possible while on the job. This includes putting in the extra effort to get a task done right, being punctual and reliable, and exhibiting a positive attitude. Candidates with a strong work ethic are often highly sought-after by employers as they know that these workers will uphold the company culture and values. Furthermore, candidates with a strong work ethic are often more productive employees, which is beneficial for both the employee and the employer.

5) The Ability To Take Initiative

Why are candidates who are proactive and can take initiative great options for financial companies? The ability to take initiative is the capacity to recognize opportunities and act on them without being asked or told to do so. These employees are often seen as being leaders and are more likely to be promoted than those who just go with the flow. Taking initiative also shows that the advisor is willing to go above and beyond his job duties to get the job done. 

Furthermore, it demonstrates that the worker is resourceful and can think outside the box to solve problems. Candidates who take initiative are often seen as more desirable for creative and management roles than those who do not, making it an important quality to possess.

6) Being A Team Player

There are very few solo positions available in the market. Most financial organizations intend for their newly-hired candidates to work on a team. Teamwork allows potential employers to see how well the candidate interacts with others and how they handle working on a project with a group. Teamwork shows managers that the candidate can communicate well, take direction from others, and work jointly towards a common goal. 

In addition, effective cooperation helps them to do more in less time. When numerous exceptional individuals collaborate towards the same objective, employers may anticipate speedier outcomes. Consequently, financial recruiters and hiring managers should be focusing their attention on team players.

7) Organizational Skills

When it comes to higher-end financial services companies, executives frequently have high standards and may seek individuals who can match these standards. Can the candidate manage his time effectively and complete tasks within the time allotted? Is he or she able to accomplish assignments promptly and accurately? Does the individual control his own workflow and schedule?

Time management, job completion, and control over one's own workflow are all examples of organizational abilities. Candidates who demonstrate these skills are often seen as more responsible and reliable, who can keep track of employer’s needs, prioritize tasks and meet deadlines.

8) Problem-Solving Skills

The Career Builder found out that 75% of employers use behavioral interview questions to assess soft skills. Primarily this technique is aimed at discovering the candidate’s ability to find approaches to solving non-standard problems that personnel may face in the financial industry.

Employers reward problem-solvers due to their ability to swiftly identify and evaluate an issue while also developing an effective solution. They want candidates who are innovative and can think outside the box. Candidates who can handle difficult situations reduce the amount of time a manager must spend finding a proper option. Financial services companies have more faith in problem-solvers and appreciate their perspectives owing to their track records of problem-solving success. Additionally, they are also more likely to earn promotions and pay hikes.

9) Computer / Technical Literacy Skills

Today's technologically-driven society requires digital literacy in almost every profession. Digital literacy is in high demand in fields other than technology. In an advanced workplace, it is anticipated that employees are familiar with computers, internet research, and a variety of applications, in addition to any industry-specific software.

All modern financial companies require their staff to have at least basic computer skills, and the most sought-after candidates often possess advanced technical literacy. Computer literate workforce improves efficiency and productivity and allows employers to take advantage of new technologies as they become available. Computer or technical literacy skills signal that the candidate is able to adapt to new technologies and workflows the financial services organization might implement in the future. As employers increasingly rely on computers and technology to conduct business, computer or technical literacy skills will only become more important for prospect advisors.

10) Flexibility Adaptability

According to a LinkedIn study, the three most important trends for the future of recruiting and HR are soft skills (91%), work flexibility (72%), and pay transparency (53%). Being able to adapt and be flexible in different situations is a key employee skill in the consumer-oriented industries. Associates who are able to promptly adjust to new conditions are more likely to maintain a positive attitude and remain productive in the face of obstacles. As they're more empathetic and responsive, they may also develop stronger connections with their coworkers and clients.

It doesn't matter if a flexible employee is willing to work on many projects at once or if he’s able to change shifts as needed. In the eyes of financial services employers and managers, the employee is more valuable because of his willingness to go beyond the job description. When a coworker is unable to work because of health issues, adaptive individuals step in to fill in for them. He pitches in when there's more work to be done.

While this list is not completely exhaustive, candidates who follow these guidelines are much more likely to land their dream job. Conversely, recruiters and financial services leaders who make sure to look for these ten qualities in the candidates they interview, will be much more likely to hire their dream employee - one who goes above and beyond the job description and brings tremendous value to the organization.

If you would like to discuss the most valuable skills and qualities a financial advisor should possess, book a call with me or with my team members at Provision People and we’ll share what some of the most successful financial services leaders are looking for in the candidates when hiring top talent.