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What I’ve Learned about People from being a Financial Advisor

When I got into the world of financial services over 16 years ago—wow that seems odd saying—I really had no idea what I was getting into. It wasn’t like this was always my passion or I always dreamed of being a financial advisor when I grew up.Financial advisor lessons 1

Like most people graduating from college, I was truly just looking for a job. Sure I was somewhat interested in the financial markets because of the tech boom of the late 90’s, but I didn’t know what it meant to be a financial advisor. I thought it was going to be more like what I was watching on CNBC, but that was far from the truth.

I thought I would be buying stocks and bonds and trading all day long. To my surprise, that wasn’t even close to the day in, day out grind of being a new financial planner. What I quickly learned is that this job is all about people, relationships, and building trust.

Believe it or not, people aren’t real keen on handing their money over to a green 22-year-old fresh out of college—and while things do go a little smoother now, it still takes time to build a relationship and earn trust.

Over the years of being in this industry, I’ve learned a lot. Some experiences have been good and some not so good, but all experiences have shaped me into the financial planner I am today. With that said, I wanted to take this blog post and share with you a few things that I’ve learned over the years about struggles, people, relationships, and more.

A service can be a hard picture to paint

This one is still something I struggle with today and it affects just about everyone who doesn’t have a physical product to sell, but rather a service. It’s tough to tell people what awesome services I provide and how I will make their lives so much better when they can’t actually see or touch what the end product will be.

It truly does come down to trust and tapping into my clients’ emotions to help them understand what their life will look like after going through the financial planning processes–and that is much easier said than done. While I sometimes wish I had some kind of physical product I could present and show to my prospective clients, I still must rely on painting a good picture that taps into their emotional well-being.

I completely understand the hesitation as I have been the prospective client in plenty of sales conversations as well. After 16 years of doing this, I have certainly refined my craft, but I’ll still continue to dream that I can present a widget called financial planning.

Some people could really care less about their finances

This one may not come as much of a surprise, but it still amazes me how far down the list personal finance falls for many people. I’m not saying it needs to be the #1 priority in an individual’s life, but I sure hope it falls in the top five.

I get it, money doesn’t need to run your life and nor should it. However, having some kind of financial plan in place–a retirement plan at the least–for where you want to go and what you’d like to accomplish should, at minimum, be considered.

I know not everyone is going to be a complete financial dork like I am, but I at least want people to care and give a little thought about their personal financial picture. While I’ll continue to be amazed, I’ll keep up the good fight to help individuals find their path to financial independence whether they care or not.

Relationships and trust take time

Not exactly a profound statement, but when you’re in my industry, it simply takes time. It’s just not a quick process. People want to get to know you, trust you, and a lot of times, there’s some kind of event in their life that eventually makes them pull the trigger.

I completely understand that dropping $2,000 on a financial plan is a big decision. I get it and feel the exact same way when I’m in their shoes and have a big financial decision to make.

However, even getting to that point when there is a decision to be made can easily take 12-24 months. If you came into this business looking for a quick turnaround, then you’re in the wrong industry. That’s why it’s such a struggle the first three years and why so many good financial advisors don’t make it–I won’t go down this rabbit hole…for now.

I know the pain and struggle of wanting things to happen quicker, but it’s just not going to happen, and I’m definitely not the type of person who is going to push. Relationships and trust take time, but once you earn that trust, the connection and emotional well-being can last for years–for both my client and myself.

You have to keep on them

If you’ve ever been in sales before, then this one goes without saying. I’m by no means saying to hound people–that is so annoying and gives our industry a bad rep—but follow-up is absolutely key.

While I have plenty of clients who are on top of things and are extremely responsive, I have others, well, that aren’t so much. I get it, not everybody has their financial lives in order and it can take time to gather up the loads of information I’m requesting–I know, it’s a lot of information.

I can definitely be the same way and procrastinate with the best of them–I’ve actually been doing it for about a month now in getting information back to my web developer for building a new website. However, it just comes down to keeping on them, sending reminders, and making the process as easy as possible. We all have busy lives and, hey, let’s face it: life simply gets in the way.

They’re extremely grateful when a plan is in place

Since I’ve kind of been pontificating on a few of the somewhat negative aspects of being a financial advisor, I want to wrap it up on a positive note. The emotional well-being I see from clients after going through the financial planning process is so extremely rewarding.

Seeing that weight lifted off their shoulders and knowing they have a plan in place that we can follow for years is so gratifying it’s difficult to put into words. While the process can be long and even trying at times, the rewards outweigh anything else many times over.

I love working with people. I love taking a peek into their personal lives and finding out how I can make their life a little better and a little easier. I’ve learned a lot from being a financial advisor over the years, but I can’t imagine what my life would look like if I didn’t have these experiences. The joy I get from playing a small role in my clients’ lives is something I cherish and look forward to every single day.

This is a post from Clint Haynes, a Certified Financial Planner® in Lee’s Summit, MO. He is also founder and owner of NextGen Wealth. You can learn more about Clint at the website NextGen Wealth.

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