Congratulations on making a good career choice. You have become a financial advisor. The washout rate has always been high, yet the rewards for those who succeed are incredible. Doctors and lawyers can make big money, but they go to school for years just to qualify. What do you need to do to succeed as a financial advisor?
Unlike many jobs with office politics, success for a new advisor is easy to define. Years ago, I thought about it in these terms. If you had 100 of the right clients, they each turned over an average of $1 million and everything was in fee-based accounts averaging 1% annually, that meant $1 million in annual revenue to the firm. Times may have changed, but the basic principle should still be intact.
12 Lessons for Success
Let’s assume you have joined a large firm and work in a large office alongside other advisors. There’s a training program. You have attained your licenses.
- Understand the business. It’s a sales job. You need to ring the cash register. This means opening new accounts, bringing in assets and deepening your relationships, getting a greater share of wallet. You help people. This involves helping them manage their money.
- It’s never too early to start prospecting. You might not be licensed yet, but you can start building your prospect list. Tell everyone you know about your new job. You want to hit the ground running the day you are licensed.
- Never stop prospecting. It’s easy to think of prospecting like a fraternity or sorority initiation. Once you are in, that ordeal is behind you. You must always keep the pipeline filled.
- You need both a short- and long-term prospecting strategy. You have numbers to hit. Yes, social prospecting puts you into the right circles befriending the right people. It doesn’t ring the cash register now. You also need a short-term strategy, something you can do daily. A strategy you can ramp up by increasing your efforts.
- Be proud of your firm. When you talk to friends, they will know you are new to the business. They might want you to get your “sea legs” first. Sell the firm. They are becoming clients of a great firm. You are their friend on the inside, bringing the resources of the firm into their living room.
- Go after your natural market. This means family and friends. They will want to be supportive. Selling the firm should overcome most concerns they have about your experience.
- Always be ethical. The firm’s secret police (Compliance) are smarter than you. Although investing should not be equated with gambling, Wall Street is one of those places where a person who lost money can decide to sue “the house” and try to get it back. “You said this was guaranteed, a sure thing” is something you never want your clients to say to you.
- Get on the right lists. Your firm has a strategy. Your manager runs a business, yet they are paid based on how well they execute the strategy. Advisors are an independent bunch, preferring to do business their own way. Driving the strategy gets you on stack ranking lists. Managers have ways of rewarding advisors who do the right things.
- Let your manager see you are working hard. It’s ideal if you are in a line of sight to your manager’s office. Arrive early. Leave late. Always be on the phone. They will have ways of measuring activity. They will see you are committed to your own success.
- Find a mentor. Your office has experienced successful advisors. Find one. Learn from them. Ask when it’s convenient to talk. It’s probably after the market closes. Have questions prepared. Be a good listener. Ask for advice. Ideally, they will become invested in your success.
- Go to lunch every day. You need a change of scenery. You want to vacuum your head. Either go to someplace likely clients might frequent, or eat alongside successful advisors with upbeat attitudes. You will return refreshed.
- Push paperwork to either end of the day. Delegate when possible too. You should be looking after clients and getting new clients during the day. Paperwork can be done when your clients are sleeping or commuting home from work.
Years ago, I thought a good analogy for an advisor new to the business was this simple example. Walk into the office. Sit down. Pick up the phone. After two or three years, put the phone back down. If you are still employed at your firm, you are successful. If that sounds like hard work, think of the time and tuition you are saving not attending medical school. Think of the long hours new associates at law firms work!
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