Among financial services firms, few have been as successful as the North Star Resource Group, a firm with seventy thousand clients. Its chairman and CEO, Phil Richards, has taught business at the Carlson School of Management and lectured at universities in Beijing and Shanghai. He’s written a book titled 25 Secrets To Sustainable Success.
A 2007 Malcom Gladwell article in The New Yorker reported that North Star “interviewed about a thousand people, and found nine it liked, a ratio of twenty interviewees to one candidate.” The candidates undergo a “training camp” where they act as financial advisers. That period lasts four months, and during it they are each expected to acquire at least ten real-world clients. “If someone can obtain ten clients, and is able to maintain a minimum of ten meetings a week, that means that person has gathered over a hundred introductions in that four-month-period,” says Ed Deutschlander, co-president of North Star. “Then we know that person is at least fast enough to play this game.
“Of the forty-nine people invited to the training camp, twenty-three made the cut and were hired as apprentice advisers.” North Star figures it takes another three or four years to see if people really have the right stuff and hopes to retain about ten of those twenty-three.
Some of the very best businesses make book on these odds. Only one in a hundred of the people you see is likely to have the goods to be a star… and to keep burning bright. As a candidate, you might groan about having to march down this trail of white-hot embers. However, if you make it, think of the security of working with a firm this strong-and of the eye-popping clout that just being picked adds to your résumé.