It’s hard to overstate the role financial professionals play in their clients’ lives. LIMRA research finds that people who work with a financial professional are more likely to feel financially secure. For this reason, it always has been important to recruit strong financial professionals to the industry.
It’s even more critical now given the increased consumer awareness of — and demand for — life insurance. People still want to work with an advisor before they make this purchase. Ensuring that the industry has sufficient talent to meet that need is a challenge in today’s competitive labor market.
To better understand the needs and perspectives of advisors new to the industry, LIMRA surveyed more than 350 advisors with five years of experience or less. We asked them about their backgrounds, practice models and perspectives on their career choice. We also asked them what advice they would give to other new advisors and to the organizations recruiting them.
The advisors we surveyed had an average of 2.9 years of experience. A little less than half (45%) had sales experience. Those who did not came from a variety of backgrounds. Slightly less than one-third had been students. Many came from other industries: financial services, education, hospitality, retail and the military, among others. The top three reasons people chose the career were 1) the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives, 2) income potential and 3) work/life balance.
For those who joined the industry to make a difference in people’s lives, 98% said the career met or exceeded their expectations. Almost 4 in 10 advisors (39%) said they were very satisfied with their sales careers thus far. Only 8% were dissatisfied. The vast majority (85%) said they were likely to stay in their role for the next three years and almost three-quarters (73%) would highly recommend the career to a young job seeker.
This doesn’t mean that the career is all happiness and satisfaction. Almost half of new advisors (48%) who went into the industry for the income potential said the career has not met their expectations. Many found it harder to get established than they expected and wished they had known more about what would be required to be successful.
When asked what advice they would give to other new advisors, respondents didn’t hold back. The comments were overwhelmingly encouraging. The most common message was to be patient and not give up. We saw this message over and over. One person suggested creating a “gratefulness list” for the hard days. They were also very clear that advisors should be prepared to work very hard. Other important messages included a learning mindset and finding a mentor.
What recruiters need to know
Our respondents also did not hesitate to advise carriers and those who recruit advisors. Their suggestions included:
» Be honest — especially about income expectations and work required. This theme represented the majority of the feedback. One representative comment was, “While it has been rewarding, I was painted a much prettier picture than the reality.” Trust people to make an informed decision and don’t recruit to quotas.
» Provide support and mentoring. Invest in people and help them be successful.
» Pick the right people. Be willing to look outside the normal channels and pick people who are self-motivated, coachable, energetic and entrepreneurial and who want to help people. Life experience and community involvement were also seen as valuable.
Helping people achieve financial security is a noble profession. Finding and enabling the next generation of advisors helps them achieve career success and helps enable financial security for their future clients.