10 Tips for financial planners

Tips for financial planners

Tips for financial plannersHere are 10 tips for financial planners. Starting your career as a financial planner is an opportunity to create a life for yourself that few other people will be able to match. After nearly two decades as a financial planner – including eight years as a co-owner of a planning business, I am sure financial planning is one of the best careers for those who care as much about quality of life as they do about money.

My elderly industry colleagues regularly remind me that financial planning is the best job in the world. If we do our work correctly, we materially improve peoples’ lives in a way that few other professions can. We are able to set up long-term relationships with people that changes lives. These tips for financial planners will help you as much as they’ve helped me.

To me, you should focus on these tips for financial planners that will guide you over your entire career.

1. Build Life-long Relationships 
Try to become a trusted advisor to your clients and make sure this relationship lasts for life. With a long-term focus on relationships, you will not be tempted by short-term objectives that could compromise your advice. I always tell our new advisors to be the client’s personal financial director. Some of my longstanding clients will call me to ask my advice on what motor vehicles to buy. I have no value to add in this decision but they value my opinion and they know that vehicles are a big expense and so must be accounted for by their financial planner. I don’t mind these queries because it is another opportunity to talk to my clients and always leads to improved goodwill.

2. Put Your Clients First
In everything you do, try to put the client first, above your own financial considerations and if necessary before your employer’s priorities. This is especially true if your internal “integrity radar” is alerting you to a potential problem. You might change employers on many occasions over your career but you always take your reputation with you, if you compromise your integrity, you will become the ultimate loser, not your employer. You can only lose your reputation once, it will never recover and you will need to find a new career, probably as a used car salesman.

3. Pursue Success, Not Money
Financial planning is not about the money! This is not the career to get-rich-quickly. If that is your aim, please find another career, preferably outside of financial services. There are great financial planners who have accumulated significant personal wealth but this is a by-product of their success in their careers. If you research the world’s most successful business leaders e.g. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett and Richard Branson, you will see that they did not start out to get rich. All of them had a bigger goal, their wealth was a consequence of their success in their chosen fields. If your primary aim is to get rich, you will be tempted to take shortcuts at the wrong time. This is usually how problems start.

Good financial planners are not product sellers, products are simply tools for implementing good advice. There is nothing wrong with being a product seller unless you try to disguise product selling as financial planning. You should always focus on providing the right advice for the client, even if it means that you do not earn money from selling a product. Over time, your good advice will lead to personal financial success.

4. Don’t Make Predictions
Financial planning is not about predicting what is going to happen in markets. If you deal with money, clients often expect you to be able to tell them where stock markets are going in the next few months, what interest rates will do and what is going to happen in the currency markets. You will be tempted to appear knowledgeable so you might give them a prediction based on some research you recently read. Statistically, your prediction is likely to be wrong and this is going to damage your credibility with your client. I often appear on financial shows on TV and radio which leads people to think I have a special insight into financial matters. I am normally asked what is going to happen to our currency or stock market in the next few months and people are always surprised when I answer, “I have no idea”. Predictions about markets always make for interesting conversation but they will inevitably be wrong. Being constantly wrong is not a great way to build your professional reputation. Rather be honest and tell people that you have no idea what is going to happen and neither does anyone else.

5. Specialise in a Financial Planning Area 
The fifth in our list of tips for financial planners deals with specialisation in a specific aspect of financial planning. You can choose to be a generalist – even this is a form of speciality as there are very few competent generalists. My preference is to specialise in one area and become deeply knowledgeable about that aspect of financial planning. I chose investments for high net worth individuals as my area of expertise and I always focus on this area. If a client requires estate planning or insurance advice, I am happy to refer them to another specialist.

6. Don’t Sell Time 
Leverage yourself and don’t sell time. Professions such as lawyers and doctors tend to sell their time by the hour. There are a limited number of hours that one can work in a week which means you either have to work every hour of every working day or charge massive hourly fees if you want to earn well. I prefer to work on retainers so that I am not forced to sell hours.

7. Build Yourself a Public Profile
Write, present and educate people about money. Try to build a public profile as a knowledgable person in your chosen field. Write regular articles and get them published where possible. The internet is a great forum for getting published and you can use your social media profile to “broadcast” your articles. Try to get on the radio and TV as often as possible and always make yourself available to the media. Journalists are not good at forward planning so they will usually contact you at VERY short notice for an interview. Don’t complain, rather make it as easy for them to call on you as often as possible. You will quickly become their default contact which will guarantee you exposure.

8. Build Your Interpersonal Skills
Work on your interpersonal skills, especially client coaching skills. Technical knowledge is important but it is only the first step, there are many technically knowledgable people in our industry but very few of them can impart this knowledge to financially unsophisticated people in the proper manner. They usually resort to jargon which either intimidates clients or confuses them.

9. Always Be Available
Always be available to your clients when they look for you, especially if you have to give them bad news. Investment advisors tend to hide from their clients when markets are falling which is a cardinal sin. Always return calls and emails within one working day. This builds trust with clients and reminds them that you are there for them and will look after them, no matter what is happening.

10. Choose Clients that You Can Relate to
The last in our list of tips for financial planners is to choose clients who you can relate to on a personal level. If a potential client makes you uncomfortable at the start, pass that client to someone else. I have always regretted taking on clients who I did not “gel” with at our initial meetings. When stock markets or other circumstances work against you, it is important that you have a good relationship with your clients so you can work through the bad times. If you make an outright error, it is often possible to recover from this by being honest in your communication with your client. Some of my best client relationships were built on my recovery from a mistake. My clients always knew that I was acting with integrity and the mistakes were honest ones. More importantly I alerted them to the error as quickly as possible and I ensured that I rectified my mistake quickly.

In summary, use these tips for financial planners. If you protect your integrity at all costs, focus on your clients and their goals and develop a long-term game plan for your career, you can build a wonderful and constructive life for yourself, your family and your clients.

Get advice

Will you have enough money when you retire? Thinking of investing? Wondering how to repay your debt? Where to invest your money?

With a dizzying array of asset classes, asset types and more information than anyone can possibly process alone, why not speak to one of our expert financial planners? Get advice that’s tailored to your unique financial situation now.

A financial services career is a great choice

Here is some advice about a financial services career

Advice about a financial services careerIf you want a career that is challenging, mentally stimulating and fulfilling, consider a financial services career.

After nearly two decades in the industry, including eight years as co-founder of a financial services business, I have watched many people succeed beyond their expectations. But many have failed, sometimes spectacularly. Here are some pointers that will help you become successful and avoid failure in a financial services career.

  • Be an advisor

When you’ve decided upon a financial services career, try to become a trusted advisor to your clients. Ensure this relationship lasts for life. With a long-term focus on relationships, you are not tempted by short-term goals. These could compromise your advice. In everything that you do, put the client first. Even before your employer’s priorities. This is especially true if your internal integrity radar is alerting you to potential problems. You might change employers on many occasions over your career. But you always take your reputation with you. Never compromise your integrity. You will be the ultimate loser, not your employer.

  • Relationships

Be happy and proud of the work you do in your financial services career. Remember, it’s always about people. Try to work with people and companies you admire.

  • Money isn’t everything

It’s not about the money! A financial services career is not a get-rich-quick scheme. If this is your aim, find something else to do. Preferably outside of financial services.

There are people who have accumulated significant personal wealth in financial services. But this is a by-product of their success in their careers. If you research the world’s most successful business leaders (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett and Richard Branson), you’ll find they did not start out to become rich. All of them had a bigger goal. Their wealth is a result of their success in their chosen fields. If your primary aim is to get rich, you will take shortcuts at the wrong time.

  • Don’t predict anything

If you manage money in a financial services career, clients often expect you to tell them where stock markets are going in the next few months. What will interest rates do? Or, what is going to happen in the currency markets? Statistically, if you tell the future it will be wrong. This is going to damage your credibility. Being constantly wrong is not a great way to build your professional reputation. Rather be honest. Tell others you have no idea what is going to happen. Neither does anyone else.

  • A public profile helps with a financial services career

Build a public profile for yourself. Write, present and educate people about money. Create a reputation as a knowledgable person. Write regular articles and get these published. The internet is a great forum for getting exposure. You can use your social media profile to broadcast your articles. Try to get on radio and TV often. Always make yourself available to the media.

  • Get skilled

Work on your interpersonal skills, especially client coaching skills. Technical knowledge is important. But it is only the first step. There are many technically knowledgable people in our industry. Very few of them can impart this knowledge in the proper way.

  • Be available

Always be available to your clients. Especially if you have to give them bad news. Investment managers in financial services careers tend to hide from their clients when markets are falling. This is a cardinal sin! Always return phone calls and emails within one working day. This builds trust with clients and reminds them you are there for them.

In summary, when you embark on your financial services career, protect your integrity at all cost. Focus on your clients and their goals. Develop a long-term game plan. In this way you will build a wonderful and constructive life for yourself, your family and your clients.

Get advice

Will you have enough money when you retire? Thinking of investing? Wondering how to repay your debt? Where to invest your money?

With a dizzying array of asset classes, asset types and more information than anyone can possibly process alone, why not speak to one of our expert financial planners? Get advice that’s tailored to your unique financial situation now.

 

Career advice you didn’t get at school

After more than a decade of advising retired people on their investments I have always been surprised at how dissimilar the successful people are and how difficult it would have been to predict their success at the start of their careers. People who never finished school have retired comfortably at 55 after a great career while there are many retirees who would be expected to succeed (e.g. doctors or lawyers)but have retired relatively poor and dissatisfied. Given my constant exposure to retirees, I have been privileged to gain some insight into how people have achieved success over extended careers.

The secret to a succesful career is simply complicated

Here are some of the ingredients that contribute to a successful career. In this instance “career” really refers to your entire working life and includes business owners as well as employees. There is no particular order of importance to these ingredients nor will all these ingredients suit every person – you should look at this as a menu not a six point plan.

Specialisation

A notable characteristic of successful people is their ability to develop a craft of their own. Most people who have had a long and successful career have developed a certain set of skills and expertise that they honed over a lifetime. Very few generalists retire successfully. A good example is a middle manager in a large corporation – what is the manager’s craft? What skill set does this manager have that makes him or her valuable and unique? People working in large corporations often strive to move into management positions but is this a wise ambition? Whilst the fancy titles and potentially higher salaries may seem attractive, one needs to realise that a manager is essentially a generalist position. This make it difficult to quantify how good you really are and it is difficult to really hone your craft when you don’t have one.

If you meet people who have worked as high-level managers a few years after the retire, one gets a sense of dissatisfaction with their careers and relief that they are no longer in the rat race. Many of them struggle to quantify what they actually accomplished after all those years of work and have no idea whether they really made a difference.

Perhaps it would be better to develop the necessary skills and experience in an area of specialisation that will make you valuable to employers or clients. An experienced engineer is generally more marketable than the general manager who manages firm. This is not always recognised by the salaries paid to these people but it is generally the managers that are fired first in mergers or during bad times. It is also important not to specialise too much because you can specialise yourself out of a career. Think of all those experts on VHS recorders – what are they doing now that DVD’s are the standard?

Be a revenue generator

In bad times, companies very rarely get rid of the people who actually bring in the revenue. As a revenue generator, you have a high degree of control over your own destiny. To a large extent your income will be determined by what you can produce for your employer. Revenue generators are usually in sales – not the career that most parents would wish for their children. Professions such as law and medicine are perceived to be more prestigious. Ironically, it is often the salespeople who have the better lifestyle because sales cannot be done 18 hours a day and good salespeople earn great incomes.

Leverage yourself – don’t sell your time

There are many wealthy people who have made fortunes by selling their time. The most obvious examples are lawyers, advocates and accountants but these careers all share one drawback. In order to be successful they had to sell many, many hours in order to become wealthy. The extra hours they sold came at a high cost, because it meant that other parts of their lives suffered. They sacrificed family time, exercise, social activities and outside interests. By the time these people retire, they are socially isolated (often divorced) and suffering from poor health – this cannot be the epitome of a successful career!

If you can leverage your time, you have the ability to earn an income even when you are not working. This means you can cater for the other important aspects of life. Writers, musicians, actors, asset managers, software developers, financial planners and academics are examples of vocations that are not solely driven by selling time.

Don’t work in a job that you hate

By definition, work is not meant to be 100% fun. If it was fun all the time it would not be called work. It is not feasible to have a career where you only do what you love. However, this does not mean that you should do something you hate. Many young people are advised by their parents to study accounts, law or medicine because these are perceived to be good careers. This may be good advice if the person concerned is interested in those fields. Sadly these professions are filled with people who were pushed into these careers at a young age and are desperately unhappy later in life. This is not a good ingredient for success. Whilst you don’t have to love your work 100% of the time to be successful, you are unlikely to be good at it for many years if you loath it.

Don’t only aim to get rich – strive for a bigger goal

When you think of many of the world’s most successful people: Roger Federer, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Richard Branson – none of them started out with the primary aim of becoming rich. They all wanted to achieve something special and their resultant wealth was a by-product of their success. History is not filled with financial giants whose sole aim was to be rich. Chasing money as a primary goal often makes you focus on the wrong objectives and leads to failure. Many of the big corporate frauds were a result of such short term thinking. These criminals did not start out to defraud people, they were simply looking for the quickest way to become rich and took too many short cuts. There is a reason why Warren Buffett is not linked to corporate scams – he has a broader objective than simply becoming rich.

Perseverance creates luck

It is noticeable that many successful people claim that luck had a role to play. This is certainly true but they had to keep working and practicing in order to benefit when their good fortune presented itself.

Conclusion

It is not possible to create a single road map for a successful career that everyone can use. Obviously your success will be a result of your own hard work but you can learn from others in order to make the right decisions. Hard work alone will not get you there. The key is to observe and question those who have a long track record of success to find out what worked for them. Don’t rely on any single source you need to gather as much information as possible to figure out your own recipe. Don’t be afraid to ask the right people for advice, very few people are reluctant to talk about themselves and their success.

 Get advice

Don’t make your career a lonely road you walk alone. SmartRand’s financial advisors are here to help you manage your money and money your career to ensure financial freedom. Whether it’s help negotiating a career change or a financial audit to get a clear picture of your financial status, we’re here to help. If it’s advice you need, get advice now from someone you can trust.