The Top 5 Benefits of Becoming a Wealth Manager (Interview Tips)Last Updated:
There's no getting around the fact that wealth management isn't a traditional career path, and it's not right for everyone. Because of this, one way to really set yourself apart from other candidates in interviews is to show that you have a real understanding of the benefits, along with the costs, that come along with a career in wealth management.
Part of the reason why this is something that your interviewers really care about is because the wealth management industry (generally speaking) has evolved quite a bit over the past few decades.
As I've written about a number of times, a decade ago the general approach of every wealth management practice - whether it was a local independent shop or one of the big investment banks - was basically, "We'll hire whoever seems promising and let them sink or swim on their own."
But this approach had some real costs: namely, if you aren't investing in new hires and trying to get the most out of them, those that flame out after a year or two may have been (if they had been properly helped) star wealth managers years down the road.
So, today, wealth management interviews have become more difficult because the approach of most wealth management shops is to really invest in those they hire and try to set them up for the most long-term success (there's still lots of attrition in wealth management, of course, but much less than there used to be at the junior levels).
Anyway, one of the ways that an interviewer can interrogate whether or not someone will be a good long-term fit for wealth management, and therefore someone that should have time and money invested in them, is by seeing if they understand the benefits of wealth management. Although I'm using the terms benefits here a bit loosely as not everyone would think the benefits of wealth management (i.e., the flexibility) are necessarily benefits (as some like having a more defined role).
The Benefits of a Career in Wealth Management
Below are the top five benefits, in my view, of a career in wealth management. These would all be excellent things to bring up whenever you're asking why you're interested in wealth management, what attributes of wealth management draw you to it as a career, etc.
The one word that interviewers love to hear from interviewees is "entrepreneurial". This is because while all kinds of personality types can become successful wealth managers - from introverts to extroverts to everything in between - you do need to have some kind of entrepreneurial bend and be comfortable putting yourself out there.
While your first few years in wealth management, especially if you join the wealth management division of an investment bank, will be in more of a support setting for existing wealth managers, eventually you're going to need to be actively talking with current clients and prospective clients.
The role of a wealth manager is intrinsically entrepreneurial: you'll always be trying to find new opportunities for clients and soliciting new clients. And, just like any entrepreneur, you're going to face setbacks and failures along the way and need to be comfortable with that reality.
The role of a wealth manager - again, no matter where you're beginning your career - is going to be a much more flexible kind of role than many others. No day will necessarily be alike - even if you're in a more support-centric role early in your career - and you need to be comfortable with the ambiguity that comes with each day.
Some people find the flexibility that wealth management inherently has to be exhilarating. But others will find just how flexible the work is to be daunting and slightly overwhelming. So it's important to think critically about how you feel about more flexible kinds of work -- because if you're looking for stability in the nature of the work you're doing every day, you're unlikely to find it anywhere within wealth management.
In the final analysis, your job has a wealth manager is to serve clients. But unlike other areas of finance where you may deal with a client for a few days, weeks, or months, and then never deal with them again, in wealth management you'll be an integral part of your client's life for decades.
This is a sobering responsibility no matter how large your client is, or how much they've entrusted to you. But for many older wealth managers - who could have retired many years ago - they keep doing it because their role allows them to continue building relationships with their clients and be by their side.
To my mind, this is one of the most redeeming aspects of wealth management: an ability to build relationships with clients that span decades and perhaps even span generations.
Wealth managers come in many shapes and sizes, but there's no getting around the fact that you have to have a deep interest in markets. But, unlike other market-facing roles, your role as a wealth manager is unique: you aren't just interested in trying to make the most money for your clients, you're trying to achieve their objectives.
This can strike many as seeming like a contradiction. But, of course, the risk tolerance of your clients will vary; as will their goals in life that you're trying to help them (financially) achieve.
So the role of a wealth manger is really to put your clients in the best position to succeed based on their objectives. This includes simply preserving capital, as this past year has shown the ability for many to get over their skis in the amount of risk their assuming and then end up in a worse financial position than they started.
The final benefit is not going to be applicable to all wealth managers (in particular, the biggest wealth management teams). But most wealth managers are deeply involved in their community; whether that be through sponsoring various community causes, participating in charity events, etc.
It should go without saying that this is done partly because it's good for business. But, for many, being ingrained in the community and having an excuse to attend events, sponsor causes, etc. is a very real benefit to their role.
So, while this shouldn't be the main benefit to pursuing wealth management, it's also a non-trivial benefit that many come to value as they get older.
In an interview one of the best ways to stand out from the rest is to illustrate that you understand and appreciate the benefits of becoming a wealth manager. Even though not all of those benefits (i.e., work flexibility) are going to be viewed as benefits by everyone.
This is one of the ways your interviewer can build confidence that you'll take the opportunity given to you seriously, and that the resources invested in you will not be wasted because you seem to have a reasonable, high-level grasp on the pros and cons of wealth management.
So these benefits should always be kept in the back of your mind and you should try to intertwine them in your answers when you can. In any interview, you'll be asked why wealth management. This is where you can talk about the benefits and I actually wrote a whole post on answering why wealth management because it's so important.
If you're currently preparing for interviews, keep in mind that there are certain kinds of questions - some of which aren't behavioral - that will come up, so make sure to read through the top wealth management interview questions.
There are many benefits to wealth management - and I'm sure some would highlight additional ones not included above - but hopefully these benefits resinate with you (if they do, then you're likely well suited to wealth management!).