WINDSOR, Conn., April 5, 2011—If you ask Generations X and Y job seekers if they are interested in a financial services sales position, many will say no. However, if you ask the same job seekers whether they are interested in working in a stable industry with lots of growth potential and opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives, which the financial services industry provides, almost all say yes. This is the disconnect LIMRA uncovered in recent focus groups and studies.
“Gen X and Y job seekers have some real misperceptions about the financial services industry and the image of a sales person within the industry,” said Polly Painter Eggers, analyst, LIMRA Distribution Research. “Strikingly, the core values that these job seekers profess are the same attributes of the financial services industry. While some of the divide can be overcome by better communication, there are opportunities for companies to adapt their recruiting strategy to attract more candidates.”
The financial services industry has one of the most rigorous recruiting processes, offering the candidate and the company many opportunities to determine whether the job and the candidate are the right fit — and it seems to work for those who get through the process. LIMRA found that 85 percent of financial representatives are extremely satisfied with their choice of profession and 66 percent would highly recommend their profession to young job seekers. However, is the industry attracting as many viable candidates as it could?
LIMRA research says no. A study of 272 recruiters from across the financial services industry showed that many companies have held on to traditional recruiting and compensation structures that, while popular with Baby Boomers, have not attracted younger job seekers. For example, Gen X and Y job seekers surveyed said they value stability and security over the potential of making a lot of money; however industry recruiters still try to lure potential candidates with the opportunity to make money and the lifestyle that follows. Gen X and Y job seekers are always networking online — both personally and professionally — and expect to have the latest technological tools at their disposal to help them communicate with their network. Many companies have been slow to adopt new technologies into their business practices. . As a result, industry recruiters describe building a network in the traditional ways — through social events and other contacts. For the most part, Gen X and Y job seekers are interested in being part of a team that they feel will make a difference in their world. Conversely, industry recruiters often emphasize the individual aspects of sales and the ability to ‘be your own boss’, rather than the team element.
“We know that many of these disconnects are just a lack of understanding by both the job seekers and recruiters,” said Painter Eggers. “Most industry sales positions have significant support through their field managers and other staff support. And while the first five years may be challenging, agents who make it though stay on the job because the industry offers the stability and security second to none.”
“Our study shows that recruiters who align their message with the job qualities valued by the younger generations will be most successful in overcoming the preconceived ideas about the industry and attract people to a position that is both personally satisfying and financially rewarding,” Painter Eggers continued.