This article is the first in a two-part series. Both together will lay out what it takes to survive your first three years. It is not an idle boast when I tell you that I have coached more rookies than anyone in this business. I do know what it takes.
These articles are for you, a rookie. It’s also for your manager and possibly for senior team members, but mostly for you.
Despite the enormous resources your national or regional firms deploy, survival in this business at this time is almost entirely up to you.
Surviving the first three years is tougher than it was five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. It’s never been easy. Given the asset goals you must achieve, you cannot miss a step.
Some—a few—obviously make it. Sadly, too many do not. Some who could survive don’t make it probably because they underestimated the sheer amount of work necessary to hit your firm’s asset goal. By the time they figure it out, it’s too late. For you, this is a wake-up call.
Yes, I know you may be on a team. That helps IF you get real help from the other team members. But if “team” means, “I can split my good prospects with senior team members,” you are better off on your own. Some of those senior team members hope you fail so they can get your accounts. Be careful.
Let’s take a close look at what it takes to survive those first three years. As you read, ask yourself, “Do I have what it takes?”
Make no mistake. If anyone told you this is a 9–5 job, they lied. Not only are the hours brutal, you have to stay focused, intense and on the phone. Plan on working nights and weekends.
Initially, you don’t have any clients. Every waking moment is prospecting and selling.
The first several weeks back from training you call all day, every day. Sooner or later, you will pop your first appointment. Now you are devoting a tiny amount of time to selling. At night it’s list development, sending info to new leads and later, as you develop clients, it’s being your own service assistant.
You get a break weekends, right? Forget it. Plan on spending two hours Saturday morning cold calling. Spend the rest of the weekend studying for your CFP.
A decent week is 80 hours.
Social life with your friends or spouse? Family life? Forget it. The brutal hard work is the price you pay for the possibility of a million-dollar annual income.
Brains help. Persuasive skills help. An engaging personality is important. But none of these is more important than the grinding, oppressive, energy-depleting hard work. To make it worse, day in day out you are upbeat, positive, energetic.
Sounds fun, right? Can’t or won’t do it? Quit now.
New account opening is 100% of what you do initially. By the end of year 3, it’s probably 50%. For years 3 and 4, it should remain at least 50%.
Obviously, prospecting is the most important skill. By using managers, you get help on investing. No one is going to prospect for you. To clarify: By prospecting, I mean cold calling. Unless you are blessed with extraordinary connections who cannot wait for you to become an FA so you can manage their trust funds, you can forget about networking as anything other than a distraction, at least for your first year or two.