Want to be a Financial Advisor? Here’s what to expect

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While many sectors of the financial services industry are contracting, one that continues to grow is Wealth Management. However, being a wealth manager or as they're better known, financial advisor (FA), can be a challenging, but rewarding position. For the right person, it can be a perfect career.

Have no illusions; a brokerage firm is a sales organization. Even if you’re an independent advisor, the job is sales. If you aren’t willing to sell—products, services, advice, yourself—then try another career.

Getting Started

Once you’ve made the choice to be an FA , your first year in pursuit of a career brings its own unique set of challenges. At the larger firms, new advisors can expect to undergo a highly-structured year heavily-focused on studying and exam-taking. After passing the Series 7 and Series 63 exams, and satisfying your employer with other proficiencies your firm wishes you to master, you’ll be off and running—and under the gun to produce quickly, either alone, or as part of a team. This will be the most crucial time of your young career, learning the ropes while working to achieve steep production goals on a monthly and quarterly basis.

You’ll also be focused on networking with professionals and through events and activities, with the goal of building relationships to leverage. Those who have had a previous professional career (in law, accounting, sales, or finance) have an advantage. By the end of your first year, you can begin studying for financial planning certification—which will take several years.

Universal truths

Going forward, you’ll be relying on your charm, instincts and training to succeed, and you’ll be well-served if you can carry with you some universal truths, beneficial to any professional:

  • Be Persistent, but measured. Too persistent is viewed as pushy
  • Listen. It’s just not always about you. Your client is trying to tell you how he’ll measure your success.
  • Teach. Share your knowledge. A successful advisor talks WITH clients, not AT clients. Making things simple and understandable isn’t easy, but it is essential.

If you’re serious about getting into financial planning, the Financial Planning Association is a great resource and offers a residency program (like an internship) providing CFP Board continuing education credit or three months of financial planning work experience.

Robert Namar is CEO of NAMARketing News, and a Wall Street veteran consulting for a number of financial services firms