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What to Expect in Your First 90 Days

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Lots of energetic and passionate new planners around the country will start their careers this summer after graduation or the July CFP certification exam. The transition from financial planning student to professional can be bumpy, so here are some tips to help you hit the ground running during your first 90 days on the job.


You should do everything you can to familiarize yourself with the business you will be joining before you actually have to be there every day. Thoroughly review the firm’s Form ADV, website and organizational structure. Become comfortable with the strategic plans (which ideally all should have been part of the interview and your due diligence process).

When I started my career, I downloaded the user guides for the custodian and software programs I would be using daily. These guides totaled hundreds of pages and studying them took time I was not being paid for, but it established a higher baseline on which the firm could start building, putting me and them on a trajectory toward success. Candidates who show up expecting to “start work” on their first day will struggle to keep up.

Have a Support Foundation

Starting the first job of your career, getting out of the mindset of the student schedule, meeting co-workers, learning new software, processes and clients, for whom at some point you will be providing financial advice, are very important events all happening in a short time frame. Make sure you have a solid support network in case you need to reach out. This could include friends within the profession as well as outside industries, professors, family members and mentors. Talk to these people regularly.

If you are overwhelmed, you should also share this with your direct supervisor. Your new employer isn’t going to immediately consider you a failure if you raise your hand and ask that the firehose be turned down a notch or two. However, if you put on a facade and things start to fall through the cracks, your employer is not likely to be as understanding.

How to Add Value

There will be ups and downs, just like anything else in life, but as long as you keep your focus and ask questions, you should find plenty of opportunities to add value to your new organization.

Learning the software programs prior to starting is probably what can move the needle the most for the majority of firms. Other potential areas where you can initially add value include reviewing and editing marketing materials, social media technology coordination and introducing ideas from your internships or other experiences for possible integration.

The best new hires will take a proactive approach here. Understand that there is a lot to be done for the clients the firm serves; anything you can do to keep the process moving forward, even if you did not go to school for it, is what you should do.

Professionalism Guidelines

Keep in mind that you are entering an established professional service business environment, and strive to avoid classic millennial stereotypes the older generations love to highlight. Be accommodating, find out the dress code and go one level beyond, always keep your note-taking materials close by, don’t ask for time off or to leave early, plan to arrive earlier and stay later than everyone else, and put your phone down.

I worked with a Gen Y candidate recently who did a multi-day interview at a firm. At the end of the interview, the baby boomer firm owner shared with me how impressed they were that this young person did not pull out their phone one time, and ended up landing the position. Even if these things seem silly to you, be cognizant that you did not start the firm you are joining, and did not take the risk that the firm owner did many years ago to provide this opportunity for you.

Next Steps to Take

For more guidance on how to start a new financial planning job on the right foot and the experiences you will face in the first few months of employment, download our full white paper, “What to Expect During Your First 90 Days on the Job” at

— Read “Recruiting Season Is in Full Swing” on ThinkAdvisor.


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