Preparing for Wealth Management Interviews

With so little information online, preparing for a wealth management interview can seem like a complete black box. 

The key to proper preparation can be broken down into a five-step process:

  1. Understand the firm
  2. Understand the types of interview questions
  3. Work through each type of interview question
  4. Understand the "rules" of interviewing in wealth management
  5. Practice, practice, practice

Let's go through each of these steps briefly...

Understand the Firm

While wealth management firms all generally look for the same attributes in candidates - and ask largely the same interview questions - it's always a good idea to take a spin through their website to make sure you understand how they pitch themselves to clients.

For example, Goldman PWM has a rather obvious pitch: they're Goldman Sachs, they have access to lots of interesting people and interesting product solutions, and focus on the most "exclusive" clients (which includes endowments and foundations).

You should make sure to infuse some of your behavioral answers with elements of what makes the firm you're applying to unique. 

There's no need to go overboard here though. You shouldn't give the impression that you're interested in a role just because of the firm's brand name. Instead, you should make it clear you are interested in wealth management irrespective of where you ultimately get hired, but that you think the firm you're applying to offers a great platform to operate off of. 

Understand the Types of Interview Questions

In wealth management interviews - whether you're looking at a large investment bank's wealth management division or an independent shop - you can think about interview questions as being able to be broken down into four separate types. 

These interview types are:

  1. Behavioral questions
  2. Market and situational questions
  3. Technical questions
  4. Questions for your interviewer

What you absolutely must avoid is having stellar answers for one of these types of questions, but then falling flat on the rest.

For example, you don't want to have strong qualitative answers, but then reveal during the technical question portion of the interview that you don't understand the fundamentals of markets that well.

A candidate that does well - but not great - on all portions of the interview is in a much stronger position than a candidate who excels at just one of the interview types. 

 A brief summary of each of these types of interview questions is as follows.

Beavioral questions focus on why you're interested in wealth management, what your past experiences have been, why your personality matches well with wealth management, etc.

These questions tend to make up the majority of most wealth management interviews, especially during the first rounds. You should be mindful of also putting a wealth management spin on all of your answers to these questions.

Market and situational questions focus on showing you follow markets and understand where they are now and have views of where they will be moving forward. 

What is really looked for in these answers is your ability to communicate things that are complicated (meaning, the markets) at a level that clients can comprehend. I always say that you want to speak at a Wall Street Journal or Financial Times level.

Using the right terminology, demonstrating that you understand how markets are connected, but not getting so in the weeds that a layman couldn't follow what you're talking about.

Technical questions are more objective questions surrounding the underpinnings of finance. No one expects you to be an expert here, but you want to show that you understand the basics.

Questions for your interviewer refer to questions you'll be asking at the end of your interview to your interviewer. This is the most overlooked category of questions.

In wealth management, you will be evaluated not just on what your interviewer thinks of you, but how they think you will interact with clients. Asking good questions is absolutely essential to showing you understand the role and are thinking about it in the right way. 

Work Through Each Type of Interview Question

Each type of interview question requires a different style of preparation. For behavioral questions, it will require taking the time to think about your answers in relation to the particular role you're applying for and your personality.

For technical questions, on the other hand, simply memorizing the answers and understanding why it is correct is sufficient. 

Ultimately, you should treat applying for a wealth management job like preparing for a test. You should be going through as many questions as you can and thinking about your answers deeply.

Understand the "rules" of interviewing in wealth management

In the guide I go over some of the rules of the road for interviewing in wealth management. 

While there's too many to go over in this article, some of these include being honest about what you don't know, keep your answers under two to three minutes each, and keep in mind the essential requirements of the job (a sales mindset and love of autonomy).

In any interview, those who are most impressive show an understanding of the nature of the job even when they aren't directly addressing it.

What I mean by this is that if you are consistently talking about why you thrive under conditions of autonomy, you are implicitly showing your interviewer you understand how important that is for the job. 

Another example of this is that when you're answering more market-based questions if you are speaking at a "WSJ-level" then you will be implicitly showing you understand the depth required for the job. 

There's no easier way to turnoff an interviewer - even if you appear to be getting a lot of the questions technically right - then by showing you don't really get what the essential requirements and ways of carrying yourself are in wealth management.

Practice, Practice, Practice

While there are no short cuts, you can most certainly creative an effective system for preparing for your wealth management interviews by following the five steps above.

There's no substitute for going through as many questions as you can get your hands on, working through them, and making sure you understand what makes the firm you're applying to unique.

I provided nine of the top private wealth management interview questions here, if you want some more prep. You can also check out the other articles I routinely produce in order to try to shed light on what to expect. You can also get over a hundred interview questions here if you have interviews coming up and want the most comprehensive preparation possible.

While every interview is different, if you follow the steps above you'll be well ahead of the pack and even if you get a few questions "wrong" in an interview you still may end up with the offer given how well prepared you were for the other questions.

One thing I would make clear once again, however, is that you should make sure you practice all the types of questions listed above. Showing strength on one type of question, but ignorance on another, is a recipe for your interviewer believing you didn't take your interview preparation seriously enough. 

Best of luck!

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