It’s no secret that the insurance and financial services industry must recruit a new generation of young advisors. Attrition among established professionals is thinning our ranks. Meanwhile, increasingly diverse and financially sophisticated American communities, which traditionally have been underserved, need our attention. But recruiting young professionals can be like using a dating app. We must present the right profile in order to generate interest and get good matches.
Why would millennials and Generation Z be interested in financial service careers? As a recruiter myself, I truly believe this industry is a great fit for many young people who are early in their careers or soon to be entering the workforce. So the real question may be: What can we do to better attract talented young professionals to this career path? How can we get them to swipe right?
What does the younger generation want?
The ideals that shape work and careers are evolving rapidly. For one thing, the gig economy really has taken off and is particularly appealing to millennials and Gen Z. It seems as though everyone has a side hustle. Although I wouldn’t refer to a financial services career as a side hustle, it is appealing in similar ways. Financial services offers flexibility, autonomy and a type of career path ownership that you typically don’t get in corporate America.
This industry also appeals to young people who want to help others and have positive impacts on other people’s lives. When you help someone solve a problem, protect their family or achieve a financial goal that is important to them, the results can be satisfying.
Why aren’t millennials lining up?
There’s a misconception that financial services is a career field open only to white men. Many women and people of color do not gravitate to the profession because of this view. Financial services is seen as a very business-centered profession. Although that is true in some ways, financial services is actually a people-centered profession.
As employers and recruiters, we should emphasize the people side of what we do. You can learn or get help with many of the strategic and business aspects of the profession. But there is no substitute for the ability to build and nurture relationships.
It’s important to start changing these misperceptions with students who are still in high school.
Then we must bridge the gap to appeal to college students. We must attract students from a variety of majors, not only the traditional finance or accounting majors. We are missing the boat if we are not looking at communications majors, psychology majors, sociology majors and the like, because those are areas of study where many of the people-centric students are.
All Americans need and deserve access to financial services and products. We have many underserved markets, but just because they are underserved does not mean they are underfunded. To truly serve these markets and tap their potential, we need young, diverse professionals who reflect and relate to the markets they serve. It’s about bridging gaps and making sure everyone has a seat at the table and an equitable opportunity.
How do we recruit young, diverse professionals?
We must listen to what the talent is telling us and craft our messages to recruit from different pools of talent. I don’t run through a script when I’m interviewing candidates. I try to get to know them. I ask, “Who are you? What do you really love about your current position? What do you wish you could change about your current position?” The answers to these questions help me understand what candidates are looking for in a career.
It is important to build trust with candidates and show that you value their time. It’s also important to be transparent. If a candidate tells me things about themselves that do not translate into a career in financial services, I’m honest with them. Financial services is not a career for everyone. We owe it to our industry and clients, as well as to the people we are recruiting, to find the right candidates.
The best advisors are people who truly want to help others. I’m not looking for someone who is only eager to go out and sell. I want someone who’s entrenched in their community, who volunteers, who has hobbies and interests. I’m looking for people who have the ability to build relationships and who value relationships in their lives.
It is also important for financial professionals to be goal-oriented and have a strong desire to succeed. They are often very organized or at least committed to looking for ways to become more organized.
The good news is that many young people from diverse communities across our country share these attributes. It’s simply a matter of finding them and showing them how rewarding a career in financial services can be.