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Young Professionals: Demonstrating Initiative Above and Beyond

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The concept of initiative, of demonstrating capabilities beyond the formal job description, is often discussed among young professionals. They are eager to prove themselves capable of adding value to the business above and beyond their daily job requirements. When I joined my company, I wanted to make myself an irreplaceable part of the team. What better way to ensure job security, right? As the management team now leads the firm forward, we aim to make the company stronger by providing opportunities for young talent to feel empowered in and energized about their unique roles in the firm. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to figure out how to create those opportunities for both young professionals and firm leaders.

I must also articulate the necessity of mastering your primary job role. Hopefully, you have a clearly established job description. Meeting expectations according to those responsibilities is the foundation upon which to build a successful career. That said, the ability to deliver exceptional performance in your job and to go beyond those responsibilities will put you on the path to growth.

A widely recognized opportunity for young members of a firm is technology. Many of the financial planning education programs include curriculum specific to the various software programs used in the industry. Even without such exposure, young professionals are usually capable of quickly mastering technology.

At the FPA NexGen Gathering last summer, attendees shared several variations on this idea. In some cases, identifying how to optimize existing software and training others on specific features provided immediate benefits. Taking ownership of a specific initiative is another way to contribute. You may be able to help research alternatives, beta test new technologies or facilitate the migration and training. In our firm, we recently implemented “super-users” for each of our technology platforms. Individual super-users are responsible for delivering training sessions, troubleshooting issues and helping determine when a change is needed. These roles have provided an opportunity for younger staff to contribute in a meaningful way, and have resulted in clearer accountability and efficient decision making.

An extension of technology is the ever-changing face of social media, and young professionals are experts when it comes to maximizing social media presence. If your firm already has or is open to developing a social media strategy, step up and share your expertise. Learn about compliance concerns and find ways to address them.

Young professionals can certainly add value beyond technology. Many young advisors on our staff have graduated from financial planning university programs, and they have relationships with faculty and other students that help facilitate our recruiting efforts. Perhaps you can help write job descriptions, screen resumes or even participate in the interview process.

Another opportunity is to help with special projects. A young associate in our firm has shown an interest in developing his knowledge related to investment management, so he has helped with several research projects. Another has played an instrumental role in helping the chair of our financial planning committee. Young advisors can even begin to help with business development by helping prepare presentations, organizing events or contributing content to the firm’s website or blog. All of these efforts not only enable young professionals to deepen their technical knowledge and earn credibility, but will also help leverage the time of other advisors in the firm.

Being part of a profession with so many small to mid-size businesses provides a unique opportunity for young professionals to meaningfully contribute to our businesses while developing confidence and professional skills. Taking steps to demonstrate initiative beyond your job description will not only make you a valuable member of the team, but will also help you find fulfillment in the profession now and for years to come.