Like most people of a “certain age,” I’ve had several different jobs during my lifetime. Each one of these jobs has added skills and experience to my resume. Still, none of them has been as satisfying as my work helping people make sense of their money and prepare for their retirement.
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That’s why I am so happy to meet enthusiastic young agents, advisors, or CPAs eager to build their practices.
When you decide to start a financial services practice, it can feel daunting and overwhelming. After all, most agents and advisors come in at a level where they have few prospects and tiny marketing budgets. Plus, a typical rookie financial professional doesn’t get much in the way of practical, actionable advice.
With this in mind, here are a few ideas to help you start thinking about creating a successful practice faster, with less stress.
1. Find a mentor.
If you want to carve years off your learning curve and bring in more money to your practice faster, you should find someone who knows the ropes and is willing to show you. You could find one on your own, through networking groups, LinkedIn, or perhaps within your field marketing organization (FMO). Another place to find great mentors is the Financial Planning Association’s MentorMatch program. Not only will a mentor provide useful career advice and industry insights, but you will also gain access to that mentor’s network, learn how to communicate better, and enjoy greater camaraderie.
2. Bring more value.
When an advisor does more than expected, they are providing value. For example, every client has reason to expect their advisors to be up-to-date on the latest planning methods. However, advisors who bring value often provide newsletters, videos, or podcasts which discuss these new strategies in-depth. Some advisors create client-only educational events and webinars or send regular texts about financial issues. There are numerous ways to provide value and make yourself stand out in a very competitive and crowded field.
3. Set goals.
Financial advisors and agents spend lots of time discussing goals with their clients. Unfortunately, many of those advisors have not created their own financial goals. I’m not just talking about plans for your practice. (“Build my database to 5,000.” “Add 25 new clients in two years.” “Have 10 seminars every year.” Etc.) It’s also essential that you have a solid idea of where you are financially and where you would like to be in five, 10 or 20 years. If you don’t know your money mindset, it will be harder to convey confidence, competence, and integrity to your prospects.
4. Find and study your target audience.
Many new advisors want to be “all things to all men.” They tend to work with anyone and everyone, no matter the demographic or financial life phase. I can understand this impulse. It’s hard to turn away anyone willing to sit down with you, especially in your practice’s early years. However, suppose you want to achieve true mastery in financial services. In that case, it’s best to focus on acquiring expertise in a particular aspect of the money lifecycle, such as the growth and accumulation or retirement and income phases. Tools, techniques, strategies, and product selections differ significantly from one stage to the next, and most advisors don’t have the time or desire to master all of them.
5. Remain client-focused.
To me, client-focused goes beyond remembering to send birthday and holiday cards, sending out an occasional email, or even scheduling client appreciation events. Client-focused advisors are those willing to only introduce the best solutions to their clients, regardless of commission structures or other incentives. These heart-focused financial guides are eager to lead clients to better money decisions, even when those decisions might mean doing nothing at all.
These are only a handful of best practices for new advisors excited about the unique opportunities our industry offers. Ask your mentor to direct you to other ways to grow a more robust practice that is both financially and emotionally rewarding.
Randy Hux is the owner of Hux Safe Money Solutions in Lafayette, Louisiana.