Imagine with me now, you’re a new grad, fresh out of college. You’re excited to embark on your new adventure…full time employment! The very next day you get a phone call. It’s from a financial advising firm! “Do you want to be your own boss! Come work for us!”. You’re so excited you don’t realize the irony in the recruiters words! You have an interview for a job you didn’t even have to apply for! Man, you are on fire!
Ok, now I have to burst your bubble, before you potentially fail, and leave with your tail between your legs. Financial advising is not really what the recruiter will hype it up to be. Now, don’t get me wrong I’m not saying you can’t be a financial advisor, but just make sure you are going into that profession knowing the facts. So, lets dispel a few of the myths.
The term ‘Financial Advisor’
While researching financial advisor job descriptions, I noticed a glaring error in all of them. They don’t mention the extremely heavy sales aspect of the job. The truth is, financial knowledge isn’t even necessary, you just need a degree in something. You just need to sell the products. You are advising your clients to buy the products that benefit you and the company most. These are financial products…thus you are a ‘financial advisor’. Not an entire lie, but not exactly transparent either.
The real requirements of the job
You do have to pass your series 7 and series 66 to become licensed. When I worked at a financial advising company there was only a very small number that did not pass those tests, and then your good to go. But, here’s the nitty gritty truth. You don’t have to be very knowledgeable about math or investments to do this job. They train you about the products ahead of time, so your knowledge is based on that specific training. Not any hard skills you bring to the position. Frankly, you are there to sell.
This person’s perspective mirrored my own experience when I was an AA at an advising firm.
“In this surreal world of investment advice anyone can claim to be an expert and get paid for it. This is why most stockbrokers, financial planners, and insurance agents are in the business, and why accountants, attorneys, and bankers want in as well. The problem is, most investment advisors are borderline incompetent. Thousands of them lack the basic investment skills and knowledge of a first-year business
student.” – Rick Ferri Anniebird’s Personal Finance blog
Working as an AA in this industry allowed me the opportunity to learn from others mistakes and not go into this business, because it wasn’t right for me. One incident that really stuck with me, was during the training of one of the new advisors. The senior advisor was trying to train the new advisor and he couldn’t figure out 10% of 70. It took him a very long time. Everyone has brain fog now and then,but seriously, the senior advisor had to give him the answer. My point is, he was a personable guy who could sell, and that’s all he needed to do.
So…you’re an entrepreneur! but you have a boss. So, what exactly does this mean? Well, unlike being a regular employee at a company, you have to personally pay for all your envelopes, parking, mailing and supplies in general to do your job. You are kind of in the poor house for a few years.
There are quite a few demands with this job, you are essentially an ‘entrepreneur’, quite possibly working for someone else. You will work long hours and not make much money for possibly a few years. The company I worked for provided advisors with a very low base for a year or two, and then it was commission only after that. In addition, you have to meet certain sales quotas each month or you are fired. Yes, you heard me, fired. Basically, your a salesman selling other peoples products. It’s a bit similar to MLM when you think about it. Many don’t succeed.
So, why did the recruiter call me?
The recruiters have goals they have to meet too. The turnover rate in this industry is 90%. People get fired, or get burned out, and quit all the time! But…many new graduates don’t know this walking into the industry. They see glitz and glam. “I get to advise people about their money!” The fat commission checks will come rolling it! They see dollar signs. Then the reality sets in and they quit. The recruiter highlights how well the top ten percent is doing. It will entice you to take the job, they know sales! The recruiter has to replace a lot of employees, why not start with a fresh batch 🙂 I received dozens of calls and emails from financial advising recruiters after graduating college! When I started getting recruiter calls from people wanting me for property management (not sales) I thought I hit the jackpot!
I had the opportunity to see financial advising first hand, without having to fail at it. It was a chance for me to learn from other peoples mistakes. Now, one thing I want to make clear, I’m not bashing all financial advisors. I like mine! He is a teacher not a salesman and that’s how he landed on Dave Ramsey’s list of endorsed local providers! (which I recommend by the way 🙂 ) So, if you want to do financial advising I recommend going independent. You and I both know the biggest perk of being an entrepreneur is being your own boss! So, be your own boss! If a company is trying to recruit you and you would have a boss…well you may want to give it some additional thought.
Just like with anything else, if you want to be a financial advisor with a company, do your research! Is the company fee based? or commission? What is the commission percentage compared to other companies in the area?What is the reputation of this company? (ie. are their advisors like Bernie Madoff) Is this a company where you could start off at, get good training, then go independent? What is the turnover rate at this company? This is just a start. I really recommend reading this article too. Its very information and will give you a bit of food for thought. 8 Things to Know Before Getting a Job as a Financial Advisor
Financial Advising can be very lucrative, or leave you in the poor house. You have to opportunity to really help people, so take advantage of that opportunity! But, make sure that is the opportunity, and not just cutthroat sales. So, when that recruiter calls you…know how to respond 🙂