Career Advice Jan 27 2012

The Perfect Financial Adviser Resume

By Alina Dizik

If you're an experienced financial adviser, an attention-grabbing resume can be what gets you through the door. And while you still need a stellar book of business to actually get that offer letter, a well-written resume will leave a lasting first impression.

Use your resume to address common industry problems right off the bat. For one, show how you've successfully dealt with retirement readiness for baby boomer clients or how you've marketed your services to investment-weary millennials. Make sure your resume also offers a glimpse of your personality by listing nonwork related interests and activities; financial advisers need to demonstrate that they are a strong fit within the company culture.

Eager to land a new financial adviser role? Here's how to put together an impressive resume:

Write a Game-Plan Summary

In your resume, "the first thing to do is define what you're doing to generate revenue," says Tim White, a managing partner at Dallas-based executive search firm Kaye/Bassman who works with financial advisers. In addition to presenting a quick overview of recent accomplishments and what you'll bring to the table, be sure to include numbers detailing revenue production and how many assets you have under management, explains White. Including a summary paragraph can help you present key facts and ideas right away in order to get the hiring manager's attention.

Specify Extracurricular Activities

In addition to your skill set, hiring managers also want to see hints of your personality, how you can fit into the culture of an organization and how that might impact your ability to attract new clients and maintain ties with current clients. Include any volunteer or pro-bono work, interesting projects or industry associations. Since relationship-building is a large part of the job, presenting yourself outside of work can be a good way to show that you're well-rounded, trustworthy and can connect with people. Demonstrate "deep ties to [your] local community," says David Satler, head of HR and Education for UBS Wealth Management Americas based in New York.

Explain Degree of Experience

Depending on the type of accounts you've handled, exposure to different areas of financial planning is common. Brett Ellen, president of the American Financial Network, a Calabasas, Calif.-based financial planning firm, says job seekers need to go beyond mentioning their areas of expertise by specifying the degree of experience for each one. "It is very different to have sat in a meeting and heard a presentation about deferred compensation [than to] really know how it works and how it is used in various scenarios to benefit the client," Ellen explains.

Emphasize Long-Term Relationships

Use your previous roles to show how you've been able to create meaningful relationships on the job. "Give real examples of a client relationship: how often do you meet, how do you interact, what have been your clients expectations, what could you do differently to enhance a client relationship," says Ellen. Since a large part of financial advising requires you to keep up long-standing relationships, it's important to convey that in your resume.

Don't Overstate Your Role

While presenting experience in a good light is key, there's no need to add on extra accomplishments. Instead, be honest and don't overstate your previous experience. "If someone supported an adviser and didn't contribute to the real planning or strategy development for the client--that is a very different role," says Ellen.

Highlight Certifications

Make sure to include the most common certifications for financial advisers like the Finra and specific insurance licenses. Obviously, if you have a CFP, CFA or CPA or are on your way to getting one, this needs to be mentioned at the top of the resume. "Firms will look first for the Series 7 license and the date it was earned," says Liz Farrar, a partner at Vousden Associates, a financial adviser recruiting firm in New York. "They will then slot the financial adviser into an experience peer group to evaluate their success to date." In addition to mentioning some of the certifications in the summary, it can be a good idea to include a more detailed history in a separate section at the end of the resume.

Demonstrate Sales Accomplishments

In addition to the metrics provided in the summary, use specific bullet points to highlight sales capabilities and techniques used to exceed sales goals in your previous positions. Go into detail about how you've sold specific financial plans and include numbers when explaining those accomplishments. In addition to listing in your book of sales, mentioning your trailing 12 months production measure (the total amount of sales you've had over the past year) in your resume summary can be useful.

Think Positively

As you edit your resume, hiring experts also point out that while it's important to be honest, it may be too early in the application process to expand on a role you were fired from or only held for a few months. Since sales and output metrics are a large part of how financial advisers get critiqued for their job, turnover for these specific positions tends to be high and leaving a position after a few months isn't uncommon. "Leave off anything that would be construed as negative such as the reason you left one firm for another," suggests White.


While a book of business is going to be the most important part of an application, your FA resume can make a difference in your candidacy. And that goes both ways. A mistake-free resume that tells employers about your extracurricular activities and demonstrates how you can grow business can be a huge help; if it fails to do these things or dwells too much on the negative, it can hurt.

Write to Alina Dizik at

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