Up-and-at-’em at 5:30 in the morning for a pre-breakfast military-style work-out in the park: push-ups, weight-lifting, a two-mile run. Is boot camp any way for a financial advisor to kick off his 11-hour work-day?
You bet it is — if the advisor is rookie Jonathan S. Israel, 24, who is chalking up exceptional performance in his second year at Edward Jones.
“The work-out is a terrific energy booster,” he says. “I get a great feeling of accomplishment first thing in the morning. We have a few trainers there who push us.”
But the self-disciplined Oakland, Calif., native has needed no one to push him to reach production and asset-management levels that are well ahead of the standard for new Edward Jones advisors. Moving rapidly through the brokerage’s five-segment Milestone Advancement system, he is on track to reach Segment Three in just a few months.
You may recall that this past February, we found Israel in his Studio City, Calif., office in suburban Los Angeles beginning to reap client referrals and enrolling employees in 401(k) plans.
Research first profiled the FA last August. That March he’d already taken over an existing branch office as its sole advisor, after selling investments for only two months. By June, he could afford to hire full-time assistant Kristina.
In this article — the final in our series — we join Israel, who is compensated by commission and achievement bonuses, as he focuses on accumulating assets and asking for referrals.
Being a business success is indeed Israel’s top priority. In fact, it’s rather an obsession, he admits, concluding that he’s something of a “control freak,” wanting things handled “a certain way,” as he does.
“I want to be the best at what I do. That means making a living doing the right thing for people, being the advisor they want to come to and want to refer their friends and family to,” he says.
Though his progress has been swift, Israel is the first to say it’s been far from easy launching a career in a tough industry at age 22 and prospecting by knocking on doors, literally — as required by Edwards Jones.
But “there’s no excuse for doing poorly or not doing the work. You just have to buckle down and do it. I refuse to give up or fail. If something isn’t going right,” Israel says, “I find a way to improve how I’m doing it.”
As a newbie, he carved out several hours daily specifically for door-knocking in Studio City and adjacent Sherman Oaks, both in the San Fernando Valley. But now that the bulk of his time has shifted to client appointments in the office, the FA fits in door-knocking on the way home or when he’s out visiting clients in his 1997 silver BMW.
It’s only natural that Israel spends more time in the office since he’s “going deeper” with clients to “uncover more of their assets. I want to be more than just a place where people go to buy mutual funds,” he says.
“So, for instance, if I’m doing retirement planning, I’ll end up finding other brokerage accounts, insurance needs or maybe an old 401(k) plan from a previous employer, which can be rolled over…”
Delving deeper with existing accounts and meeting new people are, for Israel, the two most exciting parts of the job.
Tips for Opening AccountsNetworking is a key way to find new prospects — but networking with a purpose, as the advisor puts it. That is, Israel doesn’t just show up at a Rotary Club meeting; he comes with a goal in mind, like setting up a lunch appointment with another member whom he thinks is a likely prospect.
The FA’s clientele is broad-based, but Israel likes to build his book with business owners, especially. They offer lots of opportunities for corporate accounts, retirement plans, insurance and individual employee investments.
Recently, the advisor was asked to speak at a support group of rookie Edward Jones advisors. As a beginner FA, he was required to attend such meetings — but not now since he’s been selling investments for more than a year. Indeed, the meetings’ host wants fast-rising Israel to reveal to the group his methods of opening new accounts. The advisor’s monthly goal is in the double-digits.
“When [the firm] notices that someone is opening a lot of accounts, they’ll bring them in so they can tell some of the new guys how they’re doing it. It’s nice of them to ask me,” Israel says, modestly, “but I don’t have any secrets!”
Well, one tack that works wonderfully for him is phoning prospects on days that the Dow Jones takes a big plunge. Whenever the Dow drops, say, 200, 300, 400 points, it’s a great time for Israel to set appointments, he says.
“Those are really exciting days. I get right on the phone and call my clients and prospects. I assure clients about their investments and make sure that prospects aren’t worried about anything they own.
“Other brokers don’t like to call when the market is down, but that’s a great day for conversation because prospects are more willing to talk. When everything is fine they have the attitude: If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”