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Financial Services Recruitment

Since I first started working in Financial Services Recruitment back in 1998 the landscape of the market has changed in many ways. Back then the ‘Man from the Pru’ (or the man from Britannic, Friends Prov, Sun Life, etc) was at the forefront of advice for many individuals, Diplomas were the preserve of students and a Blackberry was a tasty pie filling.

Despite the numerous challenges we have faced along the way, for most of us the industry now holds a more professional image and advice is often more comprehensive and tailored to individual needs. So what has changed? Clearly an industry wide focus on raising standards has a huge significance but wouldn’t a good Financial Adviser in 1998 have achieved Diploma if required to do so?

A key factor in this progression has been the advances made in Financial Services Recruitment practice. As a service industry, the knowledge, experience and skills of our staff are undoubtedly at the forefront of a high quality client offering. Therefore identifying the best possible staff to meet our business needs is essential. Indeed, with many of us feeling the pinch of difficult economic conditions, not only do we need to identify the best possible staff but we also need to get it right first time.

In order to achieve such results, the methodology for Financial Services Recruitment has developed to incorporate a greater focus on what a candidate can do rather than what they say they can do. This means that more and more employers are designing their Financial Services Recruitment processes to include competency based interviews, testing and role plays.

Competency Based Interviews

The competency based interview represents one of the biggest changes to Financial Services Recruitment in the past 10 years. Historically an interview would be primarily biographical, involving a chat through the applicants CV to determine their suitability for the role. Although this way of interviewing has its merits and is often still used as a first stage precursor to a more formal process, it can be suggested that it identifies a good interviewee rather than a good candidate for the job.

The more scientific competency method identifies the core competencies of a successful performer in the role. For example, an employer may decide that to be a successful IFA a candidate must be well organised, able to perform to targets, cope under pressure and work as part of a team. They can then ask for specific examples of past performance in such areas and probe these examples with further questions to ascertain the applicant’s suitability.


Once again, if a role requires the employee to have a certain level of knowledge on any subject, the best way to identify this to test them on it. In many areas of Financial Services Recruitment this involves some form of CertPFS testing but can often be tailored to include a particular product bias of the business.

Additionally, forward thinking organisations will often incorporate some form of psychometric testing. While psychometric testing on its own is not usually an effective way of determining a suitable candidate, when used as a tool to identify areas to probe during interview it can be extremely useful.

Role Plays

By placing applicants within scenarios that they are likely to face during the course of their employment, we can get an indication of how they will perform in the job itself. Once again the role play will only form part of any good Financial Services Recruitment process, however it is often used as the determining factor if more than one applicant has performed well in other areas of the process.

If you are an employer looking for advice on how to adapt your own Financial Services Recruitment policy, please give us a call on 0161 973 6900. For applicants, please follow the link below to the candidate section of our website giving useful hints and tips for all stages of the Financial Services Recruitment process.

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It is clear that they take time to find candidates that suit our business and that they have an honest approach when discussing any potential new recruit. I am sure that this is a reflection of their pre-screening processes where they can accurately assess a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses ensuring we do not waste time in the recruitment process, not something I can say of all agencies!

Director, Cullen Financial Planning