This post is for an advisor just starting out in their career. Their work could range from working for a large broker-dealer, to a small financial planning firm with a few employees. The main point of this post is to give the advisor reading it some hope and inspiration. Having had experience working for both a large broker-dealer and a small firm (here at BFP) my hope is to give some advice thoughts as the advisor shapes their career.
- First, you are in one of the greatest positions in your career. You have the choice of determining how you want your career path to look. Determine the path and what type of financial professional you want to be moving forward.
- Identify if you are a hunter or a farmer. If you decide to be a hunter, you will spend the rest of your career “going for the kill”. This means you will find yourself going after new clients almost always and it will likely be a byproduct of how you’re paid – on commission and likely with quotas. Often, clients don’t appreciate being “prey”. If you’re a farmer, you’ll spend a lot of time cultivating and nurturing relationships. The income may seem low at first (more on this in a bit) but after time, your relationships will bear fruit and your income will grow.
- If you take care of your clients, the money will follow. It can be difficult when we are so prone to short-term thinking, but giving up an immediate “sure thing” transaction for the benefit of the client will reap you huge rewards – both professionally and financially. When your clients see you care about them, and not your bottom line (or the company’s) they will trust you more and more, and trust you with their referrals. And by the way, don’t ask for referrals. If you’ve done your job, the referrals will come.
- Keep educating yourself. I’m not talking about the required CE that your licensing requires. I’m talking about taking continuing education because you want to learn. Think of it this way. Would you want to work with the person who only did CE at the 11th hour or the professional who took CE because he wanted to learn regardless of requirements? At a minimum, study and earn the CFP® designation. From there, pursue other designations such as the ChFC®, CLU®, etc.
- Are you a generalist or specialist? Some advisors choose to be generalists. This means that they can help clients in a number of areas and are qualified to provide general comprehensive financial planning. Specialists may hold themselves out to be an expert in a particular area, such as a specific retirement plan, Social Security, taxation, or estate planning. They may choose additional designations besides the CFP®. There are many successful financial professionals in either category.
- Find a mentor. Be proactive about finding an individual that reflects your beliefs, work ethic, and integrity (hopefully, all positive). They can help cut years in trial and error off of your learning curve. This can also tie into the second point above. Be willing to farm and cultivate this relationship. Don’t be afraid to accept a smaller wage in exchange for the mentor’s wisdom. Additionally, be willing to do “grunt” work without complaining or hesitation. You may not realize it now, but if you’re with the right mentor, your professional career will be greatly enriched.
My hope is that this can be beneficial for a new advisor or someone thinking about financial planning as a career. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions. We promise to be candid.