Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What’s it like to be a….financial advisor?

My job title is: Financial Advisor
My actual position is:  Most people would refer to my job as a “Stock Broker” but because it includes much more than merely stocks, “Financial Advisor” is a more appropriate title.

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
In a typical day I arrive in my office before the stock or bond markets open and begin by game planning my day.  As in most jobs, a clear plan of which goals to accomplish on a particular day keep me focused on the tasks at hand.  Once I have a plan of action for the day, I generally read about the happenings of the stock market and the general news.  I do not read about the news and the markets for merely enjoyment but so that I am continually educated and ready to help lead my clients with current pertinent information.  Keeping an eye on the ever changing news is also important throughout the day.  Typical tasks for any given day include phone calls to and meetings with both current and prospective clients to jointly find clarity in their investment paths.  Prior to every phone call or appointment I review the client’s account so that I feel more fully prepared to answer their questions or concerns.  It is also good to remind myself prior to every discussion that is important to understand that the investments being discussed are my client’s assets, and it is their wishes and desires that must be followed, not my intentions.  Another task to have on my to-do list is to look to the future to continually add new clients and assets to my book of business.  Over the past few years I have improved the efficiencies of what is accomplished, but the standard practice remains the same.

What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now?
During college I had various internships in the financial planning arena.  My tasks in those internships were being an assistant to a team of stock brokers, building educational tools to be used with clients, compiling research on various investment products, and generating various ways to monitor and chart investments.  Until recently I was a financial advisor with a local bank, where I began immediately after graduation, and then I made the choice to become an independent financial advisor.  I was recruited to be part of a co-op of financial professionals and that is where I am now, an independent stock broker utilizing the support and services of a group of other financial professionals.

What kind of training/education did you have? What would you suggest? What qualifications/skills/attributes make someone successful in this position?

The training and education that I have is primarily self driven.  I have a double major BA degree in economics and management, but I would say that the most practical education that I have is from watching other stock brokers and reading about the industry.  I had to pass various licensing exams, which allowed me to facilitate financial transactions and certifies me to give advice.  What I find most interesting about this job is that the primary skills needed are people skills.  Yes, the technical side of the profession is a needed base, but human psychology and interpersonal skills are needed to do this job well.  Every individual is different and deserves to be treated as such, and in this job it is my ability to listen and understand people that helps me be successful.

What are the rewards in your position? Challenges? What makes a good day for you?

The reward of this job is the flexibility that it provides for the rest of my life.  I make a fair living and am in control of my schedule—the harder I work the more I get paid; but the flipside is that if I want to go on a spur of the moment mission trip, I can do so.  The challenges of the job are that when things go well, that is generally what is expected; and when things do not go well, there is a weight that you feel even though you cannot control all variables in all investments.  A good day comes with the realization that I am helping people come to sound financial decisions that should help improve their lives. One cannot make a good day to be about how much money is made because that is not in your control.

What trends or changes do you foresee in the next 5-10 years?
As individuals continue to get burned on the financial decisions that they are making on their own (as is evident by the volume of activity in the market), they will more and more seek financial professionals to help guide them through the uncertainty of the markets.  There will be more winners and losers in the markets, as compared to the past when most have been winners, and this too will lead people to seek out prudent financial advice.

How could a person find out more about your field?

Talk to various financial advisors already in the field. 

How do your beliefs and values or worldview perspectives impact what you do at work?
I value people and truly care about my clients.  This is both a curse and a blessing.  A blessing because I desire to do well for the people that I work with and am willing to use products and make decisions that may not pay me as well but will have a greater benefit to the client.  The curse is that when things do not go well, as they are bound to sometimes do, I take it harder than those who view this profession solely as way to build their own personal wealth.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 11/11 at 10:50 AM

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