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How to Overcome the Inexperience Barrier


The financial services industry literally has a silver lining. Silver hair (or age) is an advantage. In a world where twentysomethings seem to be everyone’s favorite job applicant, many people prefer someone with experience when it comes to managing their money.

Here’s the drawback. You are a twenty or thirty something. You don’t have grey hair. Many of your prospects are older than you. They have children your age! Would they accept investment advice from their children? Probably not. How to you address the (in) experience issue?

What do Friends (and other prospects) Fear?

Many people think the investment business has a learning curve. They also know the business has a high washout rate. Although they rarely say it, they are thinking: “Practice on someone else’s money first. If after a couple of years you are still there, give me a call and we will do business.” Ouch.

They may have a different fear. They admire you and consider you competent, but in your previous profession! I like you. You are a great civil engineer, but what do you know about investing?”

1. Addressing the Experience Question

There are several ways you can approach this problem, without dying your hair grey.

Define your role. Why is experience a big deal? Because they think you are a stock picker, a short term trader. They see this as a learned skill. They are working with a big firm because they don’t think they have this skill or they’ve discovered the hard way.

Strategy: You aren’t a stock picker. You are a relationship manager. You get to know a client and learn about their needs. You bring the resources of the firm, people who are specialists, to address specific client needs. Your family doctor is another sort of relationship manager. They don’t do surgery. They diagnose the problem and send you to specialists.

2. Sell the firm.

You might feel they are doing business with you because you are a good guy! You are friends! They think the world of you, but they might be looking beyond you to the firm, which has deep pockets in case something goes wrong. You are an agent of the firm in their eyes.

Strategy: It’s simple. Sell the firm. How much does it have in assets under management? How many clients? This communicates “People trust us.” How long has the firm been in business? This speaks to longevity and stability. What awards has the firm won? Third party praise sends messages like the research is good.

Related: Advisors: Getting Business From LinkedIn Starts With a Dialog

Related: The Soft Sell: Establishing Yourself as the Alternative

3. Position the team.

If you are new, it’s highly likely you are serving on a team. There might be two or three other financial advisors. The team is like a firm within the firm. It probably even has a team name.

Strategy: What’s the combined years of experience of the team? How many people? What professional certifications do they hold? How much does the firm have in assets? How many clients?

4. What were you doing before?

The assumption might be you dedicated your life to teaching, then became a financial advisor when you retired. This is your first entry into the world of finance. They might be wrong. Although you worked in another profession, you might have started investing years ago.

Strategy: Tell when you first started investing. How many years ago was that? Were you in the industry previously? Assuming this next part is true, explain you’ve always wanted to be a financial advisor. Now you have the opportunity. Explain how your previous career prepared you for this position. People skills and understanding customer service are examples. Explain this is the firm with whom you have wanted to work.

5. Highlight the training.

Here’s a thought. Suppose there were two doctors in town. One has been practicing for fifty years, the other graduated from medical school four years ago. Let’s assume you had a serious illness. Which doctor would you choose? The one who learned medicine 50 years ago or the one up to speed on all the latest techniques and treatments? You might choose the second.

Strategy: Talk about the training. Highlight the specialist resources you can bring into the picture. It’s not a two week training program, it’s a three year process at many firms. Talk about your licenses. Communicate you are up to speed on the different ways the firm can help.

6. Focus on professional certifications.

Do you have letters after your name? What do they mean? Many other professions require a certain type of degree. Can you become a lawyer without attending law school? Explain what those designations mean.

Strategy: Focus on your professional certifications. Position yourself as a specialist in a specific area.

Age can be an advantage on some friends and a drawback in others. You have a firm behind you. Get that working in your favor.

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