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Making an Advisor

Not as catchy as “Making a Murderer,” eh?

Well, I can promise you the road to becoming a financial advisor has just as many plot twists, preparations and interrogations as any controversial crime case does.

I don’t say this to scare you away, and for those of you who have been through the experience of becoming a financial advisor, it should come as no surprise that it’s not all pep rallies and endless clients right from the get-go.

What I find so amusing is the process of assessing ones destiny in becoming a financial advisor by their ability to pass exhaustive, mind-boggling endurance tests−fondly known as the Series 7 and 66. Options, margin and industry regulations are all indicators of the path to financial advisory success for a candidate. Surely if you can pass these tests then you will easily have the strategic goal setting mindset, paired nicely with the critical relationship management skills that are required to acquire and make clients happy, right? You’ve spent the last 12-16 weeks studying nonstop, taken your tests and now you’re officially an advisor and ready to start winning clients. Within days you begin to realize that these exams haven’t set you up for much of anything, other than you will clearly know what it means to “call up” or “put down,” the lifespan of bills versus bonds, and what it really means to be an “insider.” So what?

Where are all of the real-life examples, lessons and coaching around building your business?

Listen up--there are no exams that can answer this for you. It must be learned, day in and day out, prospect after prospect, and yes, even making the dreaded cold calls (I have mixed emotions on these).

As someone who has seen it too many times to count, I’m here to spare you the pain of yet another exhaustive exam that “prepares” you for financial advisor life, and have outlined some pointers to set you on the right path:

  • People around you will tell you they want to be your client once you’re “official.” Less than half will actually pull through with that promise, so don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Be ready to develop and live your client acquisition plan (and make sure you HAVE a plan!).
  • Seems everyone you meet is a financial advisor. Know how to set yourself apart from the rest.
  • While you may think wealth management is a numbers business, think again. Wealth management is a people business. Always be ready to illustrate how you can help your clients achieve their life goals, without confusing graphs and market data. Remember, they hired you to guide them, not confuse them.
  • Your niche market won’t just fall into your lap. Be prepared to understand how your passions and outside interests can lead you to business opportunities. Your next client is where you least expect them, and never stop looking or discount anyone.
  • Other advisors and professionals may offer to help in the beginning. While these offers of help and opportunity can be enticing and possibly lead to long term partnerships, most will not. You need to know what drives YOU as an advisor, what beliefs and goals do you want to build your business upon and always be ready to land on your feet.
  • Lastly, you can and will easily get discouraged and possibly want to give up, but you’re not alone.

    It’s part of what you signed up for and that feeling will always be there. It’s what keeps you hungry. Whether it’s exams, lost business, or cringe-worthy markets, challenges will always present themselves in the world of the financial advisor. It’s how you handle these challenges that will set you apart. If this is truly your passion−do not give up and always be a forward thinker.

    Remember why you started

    Believe in how you impact the lives of your clients

    Always be willing to lend a hand to the next “new” advisor