Slideshow Seven Tips for New Advisors

  • May 23 2011, 12:00am EDT
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Seven Tips for New Advisors

The financial services industry can be a great career choice but unfortunately, a lot of new advisors never make it past the first couple of years. And as anyone who´s been in the business just a few years can tell you, getting past the licensing requirements is the easy part. Here are 7 Top Tips for new advisors to turn a job into a career.

1. Ask Yourself

Why did you get into this business? Was it to just to earn a living or was it to truly help people and make a difference in people´s lives? There are lots of careers with much less stress, responsibility and liability where you can earn a living. Make sure you´re in this business for the right reasons and always keep that thought in the front of your mind.

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2. Define and Commit to Your Values

One definition of stress is that "stress occurs when our actions are inconsistent with our beliefs." As with any industry, this business is fraught with temptation to compromise your values. Make sure you understand and commit to where you draw the line as compromise is a slippery slope.

3. Understand Your Options

There are several business models or career paths that all call themselves "financial advisors." You can be a captive agent, transaction broker, fee-based advisor or even a fee-for-service advisor. You can work in a wirehouse, as an independent advisor or in the bank and credit union channel. Each of these options has their pros and cons, but which one most closely matches the career you want to build? Take the time to investigate and understand the implications of each business model so you can consciously choose your path.

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4. Create a Plan

Where do you see yourself in five years? How will you get there? Now that you know and have decided on the type of advisor you want to be, create a plan to gain the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to pull it off. That may mean taking a job as a Junior or Associate Advisor with an experienced firm, taking an internship or joining a firm that may not be your first choice but provides valuable training or experience.

5. Educate Yourself

Just because you´ve passed the Series 7 or similar, that doesn´t mean you know all there is to know about financial planning. Many people spend years in one segment of this industry and become experts in that small area, but have gaping holes in their knowledge base. (It´s said that when you´re a hammer, every solution involves a nail.) Taking a formal, comprehensive financial planning program such as recommended by the CFP Board will help to round out your knowledge and prepare you to deal with almost anything your clients throw at you. Also, don´t worry about collecting designations - instead collect knowledge. Your success will hinge more on the value you bring than the number of designations after your name.

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6. Find a Mentor

Nothing teaches like experience. Find a mentor who is already successfully practicing your five year vision and ask if they will help you. A good mentor can help you clarify your long-term plan, point out potential obstacles and provide resources for expanding your network. Most people who share a common vision are more than happy to help and the advice they can bring can dramatically accelerate your development and achievement of your goals.

7. Keep Your Ego in Check

As you gain success in this industry it´s easy to start believing you have all the right answers, especially as more and more people take notice of your success. But remember, nobody knows everything. As you grow into your career - even if your practice is just you and an assistant - you´ll be asked (or required) to take on additional roles such as manager, business strategist, operations expert and more that have little to do with the act of financial planning. Continue to learn, keep an open mind, remain humble and seek help from others to continue to ensure you can deliver on the reason you got into this business in the first place.