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Personality of financial advisers counter sales stereotype

Date: 24 October 2019

24 October 2019

New academic research for Quilter reveals the personality traits that lead to the most successful and happy advisers

A personality survey of over 130 investment and pension advisers revealed that conscientiousness was the biggest driver of success.

Advisers were measured on five personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, intellect and emotional stability (for further detail see below)*. The survey also measured financial metrics as well as adviser’s happiness to determine how those traits correlated with levels of success.

Advisers also show high levels of intellect, or openness to experience, which have been advantageous during the substantial regulatory changes since the Retail Distribution Review (RDR).

The characteristics are a shift away from the extroverted sales oriented adviser associated with the pre RDR era.

Using the findings, Quilter Financial Planning has created adviser recruitment toolkits for its member firms which enables them to attract, interview and select the best financial advisers for their business.

Additionally, Quilter Financial Adviser School students will take a profiling questionnaire to establish where their strengths are and what they may need to work on.

Mark Pittaccio, behavioural economist and business consultant: The public perception of the financial advice sector is often tainted by past practices, unfairly characterising advisers as extraverted, high pressure and hard salesmen whose central goal is to sell a product.

In reality the research shows that today’s successful advisers correlate positively with high levels of conscientious and an ability to embrace new challenges.

Shifting perceptions away from outdated stereotypes towards the traits of professional advisers is crucial so people who need financial advice feel they can get trusted advice. 

Scott Stevens, head of adviser recruitment and development for Quilter Financial Advisers comments: With 7,000 advisers due to retire in the next few years bringing more people into the industry is crucial.

But it’s not enough to just have more advisers, we need the right advisers. This research provides us and our member firms with the tools to not only showcase why being an adviser is a brilliant career, but also ensure that when candidates come to us they are a good fit.

Ensuring the resilience of the advice industry is crucial for the wellbeing of the nation as face to face advice provides not only better financial outcomes for their clients but also peace of mind.


*Extraversion: friendliness, gregariousness, assertiveness, activity level, excitement seeking, cheerfulness. People high in extraversion are characterised as talkative, active, sociable, and gregarious

*Agreeableness: trust, morality, altruism, cooperation, modesty, sympathy. People high in agreeableness are characterised as courteous, flexible, trusting, good-natured, cooperative, forgiving and tolerant

*Conscientiousness: self-efficacy orderliness, dutifulness, achievement-striving, self-discipline, cautiousness. People high in conscientiousness are characterised as persistent, organised, thorough, careful and hard working.

*Intellect (open to experience): imagination, artistic interests, emotionality, adventurousness, intellect, liberalism. People high in intellect or openness are characterised as imaginative, cultured, curious, broadminded, and artistically sensitive

*Emotional Stability: secure, stable, relaxed, self-sufficient, not anxious, tolerant of stress

Tim Skelton-Smith

Tim Skelton-Smith

Head of External Communications