One of the most overlooked parts of advancing one's career is self-investment. While this is true in nearly every field of work, it is even more common among young financial advisors who are so busy nurturing client relationships that they can forget about their own futures.
There are two specific areas where young financial advisors make mistakes in planning for their future. The first is not investing in education that could help them advance in the future, and the second is their own finances. Luckily, these mistakes are not difficult to overcome with some planning.
Education and Advancement
Once you have your Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation, there are continuing education credits you must obtain to keep your designation up to date. However, if you want to advance your career, you should be doing more than the bare minimum.
In terms of career advancement, the steps you take are largely dependent on your own interests. For example, if you have an interest in taxes, like I do, you can obtain an Enrolled Agent (EA) designation from the IRS. I’m not necessarily interested in focusing on taxes in my practice, but I have been considering obtaining this certification to add to my current skill set and advance my career.
Learning does not just include formal education, though. There is a lot to learn by attending networking sessions, reading books and industry news, or attending conferences.
Keeping up with trends in the financial field can help you get ahead in the office, but so can exploring education in other areas. As an entrepreneur, I’m very interested in learning more about business tips and trends. My career and firm have benefited greatly from the networking and educational advancement that I have experienced outside the financial services industry.
Another great way to invest in your future self for free is by updating and building a presence on your social media accounts. Social media networking with other like-minded professionals can be very beneficial to your career. Through social media, you can reinforce your brand and connect with clients and colleagues you would otherwise not meet in person.
Advisors' Financial Future
There is some irony in a CFP not keeping their own financial future in mind, but it happens more often than you may think. Let's face it, you spend all day offering advice to others on how to best plan for retirement, so you may not feel like dealing with your own financial future when you get home.
However, you need to listen to the advice that you give your clients and practice what you preach. You should be planning for your retirement, making sure you are negotiating a good benefits package and taking other steps to protect yourself financially. This is particularly important if you are considering changing companies or starting a new job, as a great benefits package can allow you to save even more money for your education or retirement.
While it may be beneficial to brag about a position with a prestigious firm, the fact is that a brand name is not always going to ensure your ability to pay your bills or pave the way to a more secure financial future. I was recently hired by a financial planner in this exact situation. Her company does not offer a complete benefits plan so she wanted to make sure she was on the right track financially. You should never be embarrassed about discussing your finances with another professional — often, it is the best way to get an objective perspective on your own financial situation.
Your priority as a CFP should be two-fold: growing your client base and protecting your future. These two goals are not mutually exclusive; they go hand-in-hand, so neither should be treated as a priority over the other. Instead, you should be focused on building your clients and network, furthering your education and protecting your financial future.