A Day In The Life of a Financial Advisor: 7 Things You Can Expect
NOTE: If you’re a new financial advisor, make sure you check out Your First Year As A Financial Advisor, where I reveal several things every new financial advisor ought to know.
If you’re interested in learning about a day in the life of a financial advisor, you’re in the right place.
Because my name is James Pollard and I’ve had the good fortune of working with many financial advisors over the years to help them get more clients and grow their business.
I’ve seen everyone from brand-new advisors to experienced…
Both young and old…
Across tons of different niches…
And all over the world.
So, as you can imagine, I’ve seen lots of different schedules.
Here’s what I’ve discovered…
Financial Advisors Play Many Roles
Financial advisors do lots of tasks and wear many different hats. For example, a financial advisor may have to play the role of a…
Good financial advisors take pride in educating their clients and helping them understand their financial plans, resources, and options.
However, education isn’t limited to an advisor’s clients because advisors often give seminars and lectures to prospects to help them understand how to plan for the future.
I’ve found that the best financial advisors share information freely, whether it’s through a seminar, email, or social media. If a financial advisor shares a piece of content on social media, it’s not uncommon for someone to reach out and ask to learn more. That’s when an advisor can schedule a formal appointment.
Financial advisors play an important role in society because they help people build their futures. The best financial advisors are architects of financial plans, peace-of-mind, and fulfilling retirements.
It’s up to them to put the pieces together for their clients in a way they can understand and implement.
This is arguably the most important role a financial advisor can play because, without marketing, there are no clients. Without clients, there’s nobody for the financial advisor to help.
Sadly, some financial advisors believe their certifications or their experience will be enough to get clients. This is far from the truth. I know new financial advisors who are making double and triple what experienced financial advisors are making because the new advisors have mastered marketing.
Marketing happens to be my area of expertise. I’m skilled enough now to where I can walk into virtually any financial advisor’s business and immediately improve it. Sometimes I’m the one playing the role of a teacher and builder because I teach various strategies and help advisors build their businesses.
It’s mission-critical for financial advisors to understand that they aren’t in the “advising” business - they are in the marketing business. Because without solid marketing in place, there’s nobody to advise. Marketing is the key to growing a business and it’s a skill many financial advisors lack. The ones who become good marketers are the ones who build the biggest businesses.
Most people don’t like the “S” word but we’re all in sales because we’re all selling something. We’re selling our skills, our services, our company, and even ourselves.
Financial advisors are even in charge of “selling” the idea of financial planning. After all, if someone doesn’t think financial planning is important, that person will never work with an advisor.
Some advisors believe they should “build a brand” or “get their name out there”. This is flawed advice. Here’s why…
I want you to imagine two door-to-door sales reps selling identical products in identical neighborhoods to identical people.
Let’s say that one sales rep drives around the neighborhood in his company car, which has his company logo and website address written all over it.
Oh, and let’s say that he’s singing a song about how wonderful his company is.
But he never asks for the sale and he never talks to anyone on a personal level.
Now, let’s say that the other sales rep goes door-to-door and face-to-face telling his story and showing his products one house at a time.
Here’s my question: if your life was on the line, and you HAD to pick which sales rep would make the most money… who would you choose?
Now, I’m not saying you should literally go door-to-door (unless your company requires it… I’m looking at you, Edward Jones!) but you should take this “one-on-one” approach to build your business.
(Note: if you are going door-to-door, check out 7 Door-to-Door and Cold Knocking Tips for Financial Advisors.)
This is the role a financial advisor will play when he/she is focused on the “big picture”. Sometimes the most progress is made when you’re sitting quietly at your desk with a pen and paper. You can sit back, relax, and dream.
When an advisor wears the “strategist’ hat, he or she will focus on business-building strategies, long-term planning, and setting goals. In fact, I’m a strong believer that goal setting is one of the most valuable skills a financial advisor can learn.
Another role a financial advisor will play in a “day in the life” is that of a customer service specialist. If you don’t like dealing with people, this is not the job for you. Because it’s imperative for financial advisors to learn about their clients in order to provide the best service possible.
For example, one “success habit” I’ve noticed among the best financial advisors is that of sending out birthday and anniversary cards. While this is nothing new, it’s a nice touch which lets clients know you’re thinking about them.
What's The Typical Day for a Financial Advisor?
Answer: there is no typical day. Different advisors do different things and construct their schedules in various ways.
However, I know you’re looking for a typical “day in the life” of a financial advisor, so I’ve done my best to construct an average day for a high-performing financial advisor, and what it may include...
1. The Day Before
The most productive financial advisors I know don’t start their days in the morning - they start the night before by journaling and schedule out their tasks for the next day. They write out what went well, what didn’t, and what they want to achieve in the near future.
I personally do this and it’s one of my favorite productivity strategies. It’s completely changed my life. I think the reason it works so well is because we all have a limited amount of willpower each day. Every time you make a decision, that willpower gets depleted. If you don’t plan your day the night before, you waste your willpower on deciding what you want to get done.
If you plan your day the night before, you’ll be surprised at how much your overall productivity skyrockets. I’ve discovered that people who don’t have a clear plan for their days often end up “busy” but not productive. When you plan out your days, you gain clarity about what has to be done.
By the way, if you’re a financial advisor who wants to become more productive, check this out: Peak Productivity for Financial Advisors
2. Morning Routine
I’ve found that there is no magic morning routine, no matter what the experts say. I’ve found financial advisors who don’t do anything until they’ve meditated and journaled for thirty minutes. I’ve also found advisors who hit the ground running and get straight to work, absent of any morning routine.
However, I have noticed a few things about the world’s best financial advisors…
First, as a whole, they tend to get up early and focus on themselves. This means exercising and eating a healthy breakfast. They understand their body is the vehicle from which they deliver service. If their body isn’t operating at 100%, they can’t get the most out of their day.
Some financial advisors start their morning by reading. One advisor I know reads blogs (including mine) while drinking coffee in the morning. If you’re interested in some of the best books for financial advisors, check out this article: Top 10 Best Books for Financial Advisors
In the morning, one’s mind has yet to be inundated with distractions, so the mental absorption rate while reading a book is pretty high. If you’ve got some reading which you want to fully comprehend and remember later, try to read it in the morning.
Another thing high-performing financial advisors do in the morning is have breakfast with their strategic alliances. These are people with whom the advisor has a working relationship. They can be accountants, attorneys, real estate agents, luxury brokers, etc. Having breakfast with these people builds the relationship and allows them to stay updated with what’s happening in their businesses. These strategic alliances are important because they can provide referrals to financial advisors.
By the way, if you want to get more referrals from CPAs, check this out: 51 Referral Marketing Tips for Financial Advisors
In my opinion, this is the most important part of a financial advisor’s day. New financial advisors should prospect the most. I recommend new advisors spend at LEAST 50% of their day prospecting, and I feel more comfortable seeing that number somewhere around 75% of their day. This means if a new financial advisor works eight hours per day, four hours should be spent getting in touch with or following up with prospects. It’s difficult but it can be done… and it’s necessary if you want to build a thriving book of business.
Even experienced financial advisors should keep prospecting to avoid staying stagnant. Sometimes the experienced advisors need more help prospecting than the new advisors because they feel as if they’ve “paid their dues”. What they don’t realize is that if they aren’t growing, they’re dying. The minute they stop prospecting, their business starts dying.
Prospecting takes many forms (here’s 15 financial advisor prospecting tips) including referral marketing, seminar marketing, social media marketing, and more. Experienced advisors may be able to work via referrals, especially if they’ve built relationships with CPAs or other strategic alliances. However, I would never depend on one marketing strategy. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how much I stress having multiple marketing strategies.
Financial advisors are also expected to meet with prospects to see how they can add value to the prospect’s life. For the meeting itself, some advisors will travel to the prospect, while others will have the prospect come to them. I prefer having the prospects come to me. If they’re late, I can still get stuff done since I’m already in my office. It’s more efficient that way.
4. Working With Existing Clients
This is another big chunk of a financial advisor’s day. Obviously, it gets bigger as the financial advisor adds more clients.
An advisor may schedule a time in the morning to check emails from clients. He or she may categorize them by urgency and get back to the most urgent ones first. I do this myself.
Also, advisors have regular meetings with their clients… or they should, at least. Quarterly meetings are the most common, although some of your biggest clients may want to meet once per month. Meetings can be in person, although they don’t have to be. I’ve noticed more and more successful financial advisors conducting their meetings over the phone or through Zoom/Skype.
When you’re working with clients, you will give both bad news and fantastic news. For example, you may have the privilege of telling a couple they can retire earlier than they expected. Or you may have to tell someone in his sixties that he can’t afford the Porsche he’s wanted for fifteen years.
5. Administrative Tasks
Because most financial advisors enjoy doing financial plans and working with clients, this is the most “boring” part of the job for them but it’s necessary. This involves stuff like updating client records (including updating their CRM - here is the CRM software I recommend for advisors), and filling out paperwork.
As soon as you can, I suggest hiring an administrative assistant. It will free up a huge amount of your time and allow you to focus on high-value tasks.
6. Designing Financial Plans
This is the "meat" of what most financial advisors do. They could be selling products, charging a fee for assets managed, charging an hourly rate, etc. but they’re in the business of helping people with their finances. That’s why they’re called “financial advisors”.
I’ve seen a lot of different processes for this over the years, but the most common setup looks like this…
First, collect a large amount of information from the client. You can do this through meetings or over the phone. This is where you ask a bunch of questions, including those about the client’s family, career, relationship with money, and so on.
Next, you want to where the client is and where the client wants to go. A financial advisor’s job is to bridge that gap. You can do it by analyzing their current investment holdings and figuring out what it will take for them to reach their goals.
Then, you can look at different scenarios. These range from asset allocation, stress tests, figuring out when work is optional, and more. You can figure out how different circumstances impact their long-term plans, including needing special health care, moving to another state, or some other situation.
7. Continuing Education
For financial advisors, education never stops. Many advisors pursue further credentialing after they pass their initial tests. There may also be a minimum number of continuing education (CE) credits that are required for financial advisors to complete each year. They can usually be gained through online or in-person courses, seminars, and industry events.
This continuing education helps financial advisors stay abreast of the latest changes in industry rules and regulations while providing instruction on new products and planning techniques.
Some financial advisors have a negative reaction when they’re required to complete their continuing education coursework but I’ve discovered that the world’s best financial advisors love to learn. They’re constantly reading, expanding their horizons, and soaking up information. Financial advisors should never stop learning and growing - for their sake and for their clients’ sake!
The Bottom Line...
While there’s no typical day in the life of a financial advisor, I’ve given you an overview of some of the most common tasks. The biggest point I’ve tried to make with this article is that your job as a financial advisor encompasses a lot more than managing investment portfolios. Prospecting, marketing, customer service, administrative tasks, and continuing education will also be part of your daily routine.