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Financial Services Professional

The Client

One of the largest global providers of insurance, annuities, and employee benefits programs, with more than 90 million customers in more than 60 countries.

The Challenge

To develop a candidate evaluation method able to predict how successfully a candidate is likely to perform the first time on certain licensing exams and grow a robust portfolio of clients.

The Results

The Financial Professional Virtual Job Tryout was implemented. Sales results and first-time license exam pass rates were examined.

Candidates who scored in the top 70 percent on the Virtual Job Tryout grew their client portfolio and revenue every quarter, eight quarters in a row. Candidates who scored in the bottom 30 sold fewer products, acquired fewer clients, and achieved lower overall sales results.

Scores on the Virtual Job Tryout’s Problem Solving competency had the strongest relationship to first-time license exam pass rates. Candidates who scored in the top 50 percent on the Problem Solving competency were 31 percent more likely to pass the Series 7 exam and 16% more likely to pass the Series 66 exam the first time.

The Background

Investment professionals must pass qualification examinations to demonstrate they are prepared to fully function in the role. The study and acquisition of industry-specific knowledge requires a significant investment of time and resources. Individuals who pass the exams on the first attempt are able to provide appropriate services and build a robust portfolio sooner.

The Series 7 and Series 66 exams are two exams investment professionals must pass to show competence in particular securities areas.

The Series 7 exam is a core exam designed to ensure the candidate seeking licensure is competent to work in the financial industry as a general securities representative. Passing this exam qualifies an individual to solicit, purchase, and sell all types of securities products.

The Series 66 exam qualifies a general securities representative to manage money on a discretionary basis and receive their state registration. This exam is designed to test how well a potential licensee understands regulatory rules, investment strategy and types, and client needs.

While the Financial Industry Regulatory Association (FINRA) does not publicly release information on fail rates, first-time pass rates for these exams are reported to range from 50-65 percent.

A 2014 Wall Street Journal study concluded that the more times a stockbroker had to retake a qualifying exam, the higher the average number of complaints on that broker’s record. The study examined retake rates for the Series 63 exam, a state-set exam that is a subset of the Series 66 exam, and found that brokers who failed the exam at least three times were about two-thirds more likely to have three or more complaints on their record than brokers who passed the exam the first time.

Candidate reactions

"I am actually impressed by the time and effort that [Client] put into developing this program. This clearly shows the company's commitment to hiring only those that match the profile of a successful candidate."

"Great experience! Although it challenged me, it gave me a good idea of what this position is about."

"This was actually a neat experience. Definitely unique and gave me a clear understanding of what the job entailed, as well as assisted me in understanding my own motivations."

"I found the VJT to be a very helpful tool. When applying for many jobs, one is unsure of what the job truly entails, and I believe the VJT gave a great overview of what a finance professional is."