There are lots of attractive advantages to a career as a financial advisor: Working for a small business (and eventually owning your own firm), flexible hours, flexible work locations, the potential for substantial income, a great work environment, professional respect, and a great deal of control over which clients you work with and how you service them. Yet, in my experience, of the myriad reasons to be an advisor, only one is a true guarantee of success: If you love being a financial advisor.
You’ve probably heard this from counselors at school, or parents or other folks you listen to, but I can tell you, it’s very true: taking a job for the money, or even the lifestyle are among the worst of reasons; while doing a job that you love to do, day in and day out, will make your life a whole lot happier. So, before you decide on a career as a financial planner, or if you already are an advisor, before you waste anymore time in the wrong job, take a deep breath, and ask your heart: do you really love, or have good reasons to believe you will love, being a financial advisor?
Do you like helping people? Do you have an affinity for personal finance, and believe it is one of the key factors to living a happy and successful life? Do you like working in a small office, with a small group of dedicated people? Do you mind working for a firm that your friends have never heard of? Does the freedom—and the responsibility—of having your own clients who depend on you scare you, or energize you? Do you mind spending years to acquire the experience and expertise to competently serve your clients? Do you want to have your own business, sooner or later?
If you can answer “yes” to most or all of these questions, you have a pretty good reason to believe you’ll love being a financial advisor. If you’re not too excited about most of those prospects, but the money’s good, and the office isn’t too far from your house, I’d encourage you to ask yourself: What kind of job would make you happy? Maybe something in a different industry? Or at a large financial services company? Many people like the stability and security of working for a large institution, not to mention the potential for advancement, and really big paydays. Or maybe just a different career path within financial advice; investment management, taxes, trusts, or even technology are all parallel avenues in high demand these days.
I see folks all the time in the advisory business, who, in their heart of hearts, would really prefer to be doing something else. But they feel it’s too late to make a change. I also see a lot of people who are living their dream; for whom things couldn’t really get any better. The difference in their personal happiness will bring tears to your eyes. So think hard about what your dream job really is. Then go after it. It will truly change your life.