New York-based Guardian Life is looking to hire as many as 130 college graduates as part of its plans to attract 875 new financial reps in 2013.
Unlike its more experienced hires, Guardian puts college grads through a training program by placing them into a team-selling environment, where they are mentored by staffers who have experience marketing financial products like life insurance.
“They’ll be given a ramp-up period, like an internship, where they’ll learn sales practices, take part in joint work programs and work with clients at all different levels,” said Scott Rich, field vice president of financial representative recruiting at Guardian Life.
While grads get more hand-holding, their pay is also 100% commission-based. Guardian does offer employees a draw, paying them regular wages that are then deducted from future commissions.
Successful advisors grow a steady book of business, Rich said. Those just out of school usually earn between $20,000 and $30,000, but most successful financial representatives see a 20% to 30% annual increase in compensation through their first five to six years, according to Rich.
Graduates who prove to be effective salespeople are then given freedoms afforded more experienced staffers. “Once they reach the point of sufficiency, they earn the right to manage their time as they see fit,” Rich said.
Guardian retains 90% of their college hires who make it through three full years with the company, he added.
As with most any entry-level sales job, Guardian focuses as much on attitude as it does experience when considering a candidate’s background. You need to show initiative, possess an entrepreneurial spirit and have the emotional quotient to relate to people, Rich said. A strong grade point average and a proven work ethic – shown through achievements in athletics or a part-time or summer job – are big pluses, he said.
The Age Hurdle
Financial representatives market services that are critical to people’s long-term financial security so maturity, not age, is the critical factor to gaining trust with clients, Rich said.
Twenty or thirty years ago, clients may have been resistant working with a recent graduate, he said, but times have changed. As long as financial reps are well-schooled and prepared and willing to invest two or three years learning the job, age is not a big factor, Rich stressed.