If I only knew then what I know now.
How many times have you said that? It’s often accompanied by the phrase “sadder but wiser.”
If you’re just starting your career as a financial advisor, you probably have a lot of questions. That’s only natural. But our profession carries additional pressure that comes from realizing you’re handling someone else’s money. And that’s a lot of responsibility.
Nobody can see into the future. (If we could, wealth management would be a lot easier!) But they say the past is prologue; you can get a sense of what is to come by seeing and understanding what has happened before.
On top of that, you can increase your chances of starting your career on the right foot by adopting some good practices at the outset, things that could help you get ahead of your peers. So, let’s lift the curtain for an insider’s peek to get some practical tips as you commence your career as a financial advisor.
For starters, wealth management is a demanding taskmaster. Not everyone is cut out for it. The unpleasant reality is some of your colleagues won’t make it. Turnover is very high in this business. The work is hard, the hours are long, and the payoff may not come as quickly as you’d like.
Next, you must like people. I mean really, really like people. Because a financial advisor doesn’t move around figures on a computer screen. The job involves lots of one-on-time with the individuals whose wealth we handle. The bedrock of our service is trust. That comes from having a genuine relationship with the client, which requires investing lots of time —perhaps more than you may realize. You must thoroughly understand each client as a unique personality. If you don’t enjoy spending time with people and talking with them, it’s probably a good idea to find another line of work.
Speaking of time, you can take several simple but important steps to help you accumulate more minutes and hours.
First, be sure you’re working at a firm that values using the right technology, including up-to-date software that helps you be more effective on the job. If they rely on systems that were state of the art in 1992, you’ll want to look for a position elsewhere.
Next, be sure you communicate value to your clients. Nurturing a successful relationship involves more than updating them on how each fund is progressing. You must make sure the client understands what you do for them and why those services are worth the fees they pay. That supports the relationship by providing the client a sense of security that comes from understanding what is involved and why it is worthwhile.
Always be on the lookout for new technology that eliminates menial, mundane tasks and frees up time for building your client book. As I have written so many times before, it just doesn’t make sense to you to blow hour after hour on administrative chores that can be done in minutes by sophisticated software. The time freed up by technology can be reinvested in giving your clients the greater detail they want, asking more questions to get a fuller, richer understanding not only their financial objectives but the motivations and emotions behind those goals.
Finally, I cannot overemphasize the importance of having a mentor. Seek out a caring veteran who will gently point out areas where you need to improve your performance and offer a hearty “Good job!” when you up your game. A mentor can serve as a road guide who waves you away from the problems they experienced early on, so you don’t go through them yourself.
Additionally, a mentor provides invaluable perspective. They have been through market highs and lows. They’ve seen how clients react in good times as well as bad, and they can provide you with invaluable tips for managing client emotions and expectations in both situations. It’s the kind of knowledge you can’t pick up from a book, and that only can be gained by having lived through it.
Every career has ups and downs, and yours will, too. But following these simple steps will increase your chances of keeping the lows from dipping too low while pushing the highs even higher.