Every professional recruiter or hiring manager in the financial services industry can tell some version of the same story—the one about a job applicant who seemed like a “sure thing” on paper, met every criterion even the most careful hiring manager could conjure up, was hired with high hopes, and then completely bombed.

In any industry, determining which candidates have what it takes is difficult. I’ve read multiple books about it and attended many industry trainings throughout my career, and I’ve been mentored by some of the industry’s best, but none of that makes it easy to predict who will succeed at a high level.

And yet I’ve found a common denominator in all of the hiring scenarios I’ve studied.  Yes, the candidates who go on to fail look and act the part. They may even have a great background. But every one of them was missing one or more core fundamentals that everyone in the financial services industry needs. 

So, what are these fundamentals, you might ask?  I’ve found the best way to answer is by sharing the questions that my management team asks ourselves of each candidate we consider:

  • Have they overcome significant adversity in their life?
  • Have they been responsible in handling their own personal finances?
  • Is the candidate’s spouse truly comfortable with the time and energy commitments necessary in this business?
  • Does the candidate have a pattern of finishing what they start?
  • How deep is the candidate’s desire to make an above-average income?
  • Does this person have impeccable integrity?
  • Would I be proud to introduce this person to my top producers as the firm’s most recent hire?

These questions, more than any list of skills or impressive background, predict who is likely to succeed and who is not. The closer that I and my management team hold to these fundamentals of character, drive, and family support, the better our long-term results.

A good friend of mine likes to say that this is a very simple business but not an easy one. The same is true of hiring practices generally—finding a good candidate may be difficult, but it’s not complicated.  Hold true to your fundamentals, never wavering, and you will find your firm’s hiring success improve tenfold.


Securities, investment advisory and financial planning services are offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC Member SIPC www.sipc.org OSJ 6330 S 3000 E, Suite 600, Salt Lake City, UT 84121 (801)943-6277