A Financial Advisor’s Guide to Hiring a Virtual Assistant

It is rare to find actual win-win situations. Great virtual assistant (VA) hires can be one of them. That is, if you find the right talent. 

A good VA can be both economical and talented — a golden combination. By hiring virtually, you’re able to tap into the global talent pool, which usually means more affordable rates for American advisors due to differences in cost of living.

Hiring a virtual assistant makes sense for the Virtual Financial Advisor. But the challenge lies in making excellent VA hires. The difference between hiring an average VA who knows how to perform a couple of basic Excel functions and one who is skilled, creative, and disciplined is significant. Thankfully, new technology makes it easier than ever before.

As an insurance or financial advisor, it’s all about knowing what to look for in a candidate, where to find them, the questions to ask, the tests to run, and the offers that resonate. It may take some time and practice to dial in your hiring, but once you crack the “code,” you’ll always have skilled and cost-effective talent at your fingertips.

VAs for the Virtual Financial Advisor™

Virtual Assistants can be helpful in any industry, but they are especially beneficial to financial advisors. A lot of what advisors do are knowledge-based tasks. That makes assigning functions to VAs easier. 

Hiring virtually is also a mechanism for the business to be selective with its hires. Rather than hiring a full-time generalist, for instance, advisors can outsource specific tasks to specialists if it chooses to. That said, one amazing VA usually suffices, as they can perform administrative tasks, some basic marketing functions, and even operational duties. 

Tasks a VA Can Do 

Not every VA will have the same proficiencies. But for businesses looking to hire the ultimate VA, here is a summary of the skills to look out for.

Administrative Tasks

  • Email
  • Scheduling internal meetings 
  • Upload and download data from a database
  • Transcription of YouTube videos or client meetings
  • Basic bookkeeping
  • Preparing the essential financial reports and summaries

Marketing Essentials

  • Social media management (e.g., posting schedules, responding to comments, coordination with the content strategy team)
  • Basic Photoshop or Canva skills


  • Appointment setting and cold calls 
  • Appointment follow-ups

This list is by no means exhaustive, and the qualifications certainly vary based on the job requirements. Indeed, to hire the best Virtual Assistant possible, you will need to define what those job requirements are.

A Great VA Hire Starts With the Client

Successfully hiring a VA starts with communication and transparency. Yes, hiring a Virtual Assistant can do wonders for the business. But a VA is no magic bullet. You have to be clear with what you need from the VA at the onset. 

Being transparent with the job’s roles and responsibilities means having structures in place. Be specific with the deliverables, how you want them presented, deadlines you may have, and so on. 

Laying down the foundations can surely take time. But it is a worthwhile investment of your time and energy. Begin with a clear outline of the deliverables before anything. Take the time to create flowcharts and standard operating procedures (SOPs) that leave no guesswork.

In Michael E. Gerber’s bestseller, The E-Myth Revisited, he says “the elimination of (employee) discretion… at the operating level of your business” is a desirable trait. 

Clearly, a great VA hire starts with eliminating discretion. And that is done by clear sets of rules that direct your Virtual Assistant in an “if-this-then-that” fashion. 

The next step is communicating these requirements to freelancers. 

Where to Find a Great VA

There are a plethora of platforms to choose from, each having its pros and cons. In the spectrum of freelancing platforms, one end has low fees with little protection from scammers. In contrast, the other end of the spectrum might have greater protection for the employer at higher commissions. 

Upwork and Fiverr are the most well-known and fall in the high-fees (relatively speaking), greater-protection range. Their escrow service is fantastic since payments are held until the job gets done. Freelancer.com is a similar alternative. Be warned, though, as these platforms can be expensive, taking around 20% in commissions per payment. The fees do go down for premium subscribers. Plus, these platforms allow you to tap into the global market of freelancers. 

On the contrary, you may post your job requirements on sites like Craigslist. They offer virtually no protection, though, so proceed with caution. Other noteworthy sources that fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum include LinkedIn, Facebook or other social media platforms, Indeed, and direct referrals. 

Filtering Prospects

Along with the job’s roles and responsibilities, have your prospects overcome some hurdles. The mini-tests ensure you only vet deserving candidates and do not waste both of your time. Here are some of the effective ways to screen candidates.

Keyword Identification

Have them mention a keyword in their application. The special instruction makes sure the applicant has read the job post in its entirety. 

A quick way of filtering out poor candidates is to remove people who copy-paste applications without comprehension, and spotting a hidden keyword works wonders. People who copy-paste applications will probably shortchange the work, too. 

But be practical about the keyword placement, too. Keywords concealed in the middle of a long paragraph may go unnoticed even by qualified candidates. Ultimately, the difficulty level should be tantamount to the job’s responsibilities. 

Problem Solving

If the job’s role necessitates some knowledge in finance, consider having them solve problems. A shared Google Sheets file with viewing permissions works well with finance or mathematical problems. Have them go to File > Make a Copy > Enable Sharing on the answered file. 

Writing Challenge

A good deal of VAs answer emails, so it would be good to test their writing skills as well. While the cover letter, perhaps, is an indicator of writing skills, many aspirants recycle old applications. Short essays will be better measures of the candidate’s writing proficiency. 

What to Look For in a VA

Without a doubt, it is possible to hire first-time VAs and strike gold. Conversely, hiring tried and tested VAs with significant job histories on your chosen platform can save you time. Like many things, there is a tradeoff between costs and time. 

One sensible approach is to hire fairly new VAs with a lot of “offline” job history. For example, many BPO employees in the Philippines are transitioning from night shift jobs to freelancing for employers in the US. This information suggests that there are a lot of highly skilled and trustworthy professionals looking for their first VA positions. 

In short, you could choose to have the freelancing platform do the vetting for you — in exchange for higher fees — or you could do the vetting yourself. Either way, a stable job history — online and offline —with no work gaps is a good sign. 

How to Interview a VA

Interviewing is not necessary for some jobs. Take one-time projects as an example. If you need a freelancer to design your logo or write a blog post, going through tedious interviews is probably unnecessary. 

That said, contracting with a Virtual Assistant is a long-term engagement. Interviews allow you to build rapport and see if your personalities fit. 

You could interview on Zoom, Skype, Teams, or through the freelancing platform’s video conferencing app, if any. Also, have your questions ready. These interviews are not just about your candidates’ preparedness but also about your preparation.

Consider a Test Run Before Committing Long-Term

Before proceeding with a long-term contract, evaluate how a test project would work out. Having a trial run also puts less pressure on the business and makes hiring less daunting.  

With regard to the test period, it is good practice to pay them a fair rate. There are two schools of thought to this. Some believe you should never pay for subpar work. But if you have done the proper steps thus far, then you are testing a worthy candidate and should compensate for their time. 

Tips for Managing VAs

The best way to manage your VA, or team of freelancers, is determined by the size of the team. For large groups, a project management tool works best. Private messaging apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Messenger, and iMessage can work if you’re a solo advisor/practice with a single VA. 

With that being said, preparing to scale and using productivity tools like Slack or Asana is a great way to proactively plan for growth. Not only is it a medium for file sharing and organization, but it is also a platform for discussion. 

And for more complex instructions, Loom, the video messaging app for work, is excellent. This app allows you to convey your messages clearly through instantly shareable videos. Some freelancing platforms now have Loom integration. 

Taking the Leap With a Great VA Hire

Although these are steps to make better hires, there is never guaranteed success when recruiting people. We can only increase our chances of finding great employees. All things considered, though, the advantages of hiring a Virtual Assistant for financial advisors outweigh the drawbacks. 

Assuming you get a full-time VA, that is an additional 40 hours of highly productive work for the business. The freed-up time allows you to do more campaigns, virtual meetings, and other more productive uses of your time. A great VA is practically a necessity for virtual financial advisors who are serious about growing their businesses!

Jeremiah Desmarais

Jeremiah Desmarais

Jeremiah is the founder and CEO of Advisorist® and is a 23-time award winning financial marketer, a TED speaker and philanthropist. He’s been featured on Forbes, CNN, and Worth. His work has generated over $2 million insurance leads and helped advisors in over 51 countries generate over $300 million in sales commissions. He is the author of the best selling book, SHIFT.

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