My career in financial planning began almost a decade ago. I was eager to earn credibility in the profession and a bit nervous about how to do so, especially as a young advisor working with colleagues and clients one or two generations my senior.
Since that time, I have heard countless conversations about how to build trust and gain credibility without any “gray hair” to help. Yes, relationships take time to develop; that is true regardless of whether young advisors are working with their peers or with retirees. However, age does not have to be a factor in what that timeline looks like. From my own experience, as well as thoughts from other NexGen advisors, here are some steps to make age nothing more than a number.
Know your stuff. Many young advisors have a distinct advantage when entering the profession—technical competence. Financial planning education has come a long way from what existed when our industry pioneers started their careers. Advisors coming out of university programs do not need to be trained on the basics of investments, retirement, tax or estate planning. A degree in financial planning (from Texas Tech University) enabled me to hit the ground running when I entered the profession.
The ability to demonstrate technical competence and the opportunity to share the rigor of education with clients is one step toward proving yourself worthy of their trust. The ability to use that knowledge to educate the client is another step. Further, meaningful designations, such as the Certified Financial Planner credential, help prove that you do, in fact, know your stuff. My firm communicates to clients the importance of such credentials and explains the process of attaining them to clients.
Act the part. You may know you are capable and competent, but the ability to demonstrate that through everyday actions is of paramount importance. Work hard to deliver on promises and exceed expectations. Own your mistakes and work diligently to fix them. Consider the whole package. Professionalism is really in the eye of the beholder, so read your audience. Do you communicate appropriately? Speak confidently and write professionally. Address clients as formally or informally as they expect. What about your attire? Not every audience equates a suit and tie with competence, but some do.