How To Become A Successful Financial Advisor: Your First Year
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.
What does it take to become a successful financial advisor? What are the things financial advisors should do in their first year? What are some good first year financial advisor goals?
I’m sure those questions have bounced around in every financial advisor’s mind when they were first starting out.
In this article, I’m going to give you some of the most important things you need to know as a new financial advisor.
But first, if you don’t know who I am, my name is James Pollard and I’m the founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com (the site you’re on right now), a business that has helped thousands of financial advisors get more clients…
I’m the author of arguably the most prestigious financial advisor newsletter in the world, The James Pollard Inner Circle, which financial advisors happily pay $99 per month to receive…
I’m the host of the “Financial Advisor Marketing” podcast, a show created to - you guessed it - assist financial advisors with their marketing. I’ve got more than 100 episodes, which means I’ve been doing it for years…
And I’m the creator of a 124-minute MP3 audio download titled “Your First Year As A Financial Advisor: How To Survive And Thrive From Day One”.
Many financial advisors have credited "Your First Year As A Financial Advisor" with being the launchpad of their success and a lifesaver for them in their first year. If you’re a new financial advisor, I STRONGLY recommend checking it out. 😄
Anyway, I began helping new financial advisors because I saw the industry leaving them behind. For example, depending on the study you read, anywhere from 80-90% of financial advisors fail within their first three years. Yet, companies continue to spout out the same tired advice.
What’s the definition of insanity again? Oh yeah, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results!
Now, ask yourself: if the new financial advisor failure rate is so high, why are financial advisors still being taught the same things? It’s nuts.
First Year Financial Advisors Are Given Terrible Advice...
Not too long ago, I saw a new financial advisor ask for advice on how to get started.
One person’s response was:
“Join your local FPA chapter. Start attending events and asking people if you can buy them coffee and pick their brains.”
This is TERRIBLE advice.
I’m sure it’s well-intentioned, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And it’s advice like this which consistently fails new advisors. Because let’s use common sense here…
Do you REALLY think that the most successful financial advisors are doing this?
Do you REALLY believe that high achievers will have the time to lounge around and sip cappuccinos with you?
This is rooted in the misguided belief that new financial advisors need a “mentor!” to succeed.
One problem with this is that they haven’t fully given permission to go out into the marketplace and crush it.
Another problem is that the “mentor” may recommend things that worked fifteen or twenty years ago but are completely obsolete today.
I don’t know about you, but that’s a gamble I’m NOT willing to take.
Oh, and what about this one…
“Just pick up the phone and dial.”
Anyone who tells you things like that:
I’d much rather focus on marketing strategies that can be scaled. Marketing strategies like cold calling are limited to how many phone calls you can make in a day. You will never be able to make a thousand phone calls in one day. However, you CAN send a thousand emails. You CAN get your social media profile in front of a thousand people. You CAN send a thousand direct mail pieces.
A final piece of terrible advice given to new financial advisors is the idea that new advisors should focus on their strengths.
This advice sounds good on paper yet fails in the real world. Because the best businesses don’t have one strong point; they have several. You want to do the same.
If you’re on my email list or if you’re a regular listener to the “Financial Advisor Marketing” podcast, you’ve undoubtedly heard me talk about having multiple marketing strategies before. In my opinion, “multiple marketing strategies” is the holy grail of growing a financial advisor’s business.
Multiple marketing strategies can also save your butt. For example, I received this email from a financial advisor back in April 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic was in full swing:
“I’ve been reading your website and I’m a new advisor for sure. I was wondering about COVID. I’m struggling pretty hard right now because my firm won’t allow me to do door to door and I’ve had to rely on 100% online.
I have no problem with that, it’s just something I’m inexperienced in.
I’m thinking of picking up ‘Your First Year As A Financial Advisor’.
The problem I’ve ran into is that I have 2 months left of my 4 months to essentially bring in X amount of dollars before I’m put on a performance plan.
I’m stressed about this and pretty desperate to do what I need to do to bring on assets.
I’ve only been an advisor for 2 months… and could possibly be canned in 2 months while my 2 months of prospecting hasn’t led to any because of inexperience. Firm is also limited on the online prospecting because [his company] is more of a face-to-face type of company.”
Even though I felt bad for this guy, I couldn’t help him because trying to fix his marketing situation would have been like putting lipstick on a pig… or putting chandeliers in a haunted house… or… well, you get the picture.
His foundation was flawed, and for many reasons:
So, I told him to view his situation as a blessing in disguise. If nothing else, it has been a valuable learning experience for him and it will likely ensure he never ends up in the same situation again.
I’d bet dollars to donuts that isn’t what he wanted to hear.
He probably wanted me to tell him some magical unicorn fairy godmother trick that could solve all his problems and get him a bunch of clients overnight.
Alas, no such trick exists.
However, I DO have some suggestions on how to succeed in your first year as a financial advisor. Here they are…
1. Confront Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome was originally identified in 1978 by social psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanna Imes at Georgia State University. Their definition is:
“The internal experience of intellectual phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable, or creative despite evidence of high achievement.”
New financial advisors commonly feel inadequate because they’re comparing themselves to other, more successful financial advisors.
Most people never let you see the bad parts of their lives. They only show you what they WANT you to see. Social media has made this worse. When you scroll through social media, you only see the highlight reel of people’s lives. You don’t see their childhoods, problems, or deep-rooted insecurities.
I want you to know that YOU ARE WORTHY.
Besides, your inexperience can be a major advantage because you don’t have anything to “unlearn”. I’ve lost count of the experienced financial advisors I’ve seen who are stuck spinning their wheels because of bad habits they can’t break. If you’re new, you can avoid those traps.
ALSO READ: An Open Letter To Financial Advisors With Imposter Syndrome
2. Know How YOUR Potential Clients Search For A Financial Advisor
🗣️ Repeat after me: not all marketing strategies are created equal!
And I’ll prove it…
The Oechsli Institute once asked 403 investors with a minimum of $500,000 how they would begin looking for a financial advisor. For respondents over age 65, here’s the breakdown:
Here’s the breakdown for respondents under age 45:
So, what can you learn from this information? Well, you should see that your marketing strategies should be tailored based on your clients’ age.
If your clients skew older, you will want to invest heavily in a referral marketing process. If your clients skew younger, your best bet is building an online presence.
Knowing this as a first year financial advisor will give you a MASSIVE leg up.
Also, just because you can use a marketing strategy doesn’t mean you should.
I remember watching an interview with Warren Buffett, where he pointed out that he thought one of the biggest mistakes in investing was trading merely because you can. He pointed out that, as an individual investor, just because you CAN trade doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
In today’s world, it has never been easier to buy and sell stocks. It’s as easy as opening a Robinhood, Vanguard, Fidelity, etc. account. I can short the hottest tech stocks and buy call/put options if I want.
But should I?
The same is true for new financial advisors. A lot of times, marketing comes down to picking a few proven strategies and working the heck out of them.
Sadly, I’m seeing more and more financial advisors chase bright shiny objects. Just because people are out there getting swept up by fads and bad advice doesn’t mean you have to go down with them.
3. Know Your Numbers
Sometimes new financial advisors are under the illusion that they’ll be sitting around picking stocks and reading financial blogs all day.
I hate to burst your bubble, but that’s not the case.
You’ll be building your business… aka marketing… and marketing is math. So, knowing your numbers is critical. If you know your numbers, you will be lightyears ahead of other financial advisors because almost nobody keeps track.
Allow me to illustrate using email marketing as an example…
Email marketing - which is by far the most effective appointment-setting strategy I’m seeing right now for financial advisors - is made up of a few parts:
Let’s throw in some numbers:
If you make $2,500 per client, getting four new clients means $10,000 in revenue added to your business.
This is your baseline. By knowing your baseline, you can improve. In this case, you have multiple levers you can pull to get more clients. You can:
We’ll assume you improve each part of your process a mere 20%.
This means instead of sending 1,000 visitors, you send 1,200 visitors…
Instead of converting 25% of those visitors, your landing page now converts at 30%. This means 360 people opt-in to your email list.
Instead of a 3% conversion rate, your follow-up sequence converts at 3.6%. This means 12 people set appointments with you.
Instead of converting 50% of those people into clients, you convert 60%. This means you will have 7 new clients.
Assuming the same $2,500 average revenue per client, you will have added $17,5000 in revenue to your business.
Yes, you read that correctly. 🤯
A massive 75% increase in revenue simply by knowing your numbers and improving them a small amount.
ALSO READ: 10 Things I Wish All Entry Level Financial Advisors Knew
4. Create A Marketing Plan
Why do some financial advisors succeed while others fail miserably?
The best answer I’ve been able to come up so far is this: financial advisors who succeed have a plan.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
According to the consulting firm CEG Worldwide, 80% of advisors producing $1 million or more have written plans. Those making $75,000 or less have written plans only 7% of the time.
Which side do you want to be on? 🤔
And a survey, conducted for FA Insights by Design Study, found that only 17% of financial advisors have developed a strategic plan for their businesses.
This means 83% of financial advisors are out there making plans for their clients without having a plan for themselves.
Ah, the irony.
But you don’t have to be another statistic. Because while most financial advisors are better at planning their clients’ futures instead of their own, you can take charge and steer your business wherever you want to go. A marketing plan will help you get there.
That’s why I write articles like this one: 27 Marketing Tips For Financial Advisors.
I sorted through hundreds of marketing plans - not just for financial advisors, but across multiple industries - and wanted to bang my head against the wall.
They made everything so complicated that you needed a Harvard MBA to understand.
Jargon, charts, graphs, and trivial information which will never put a dime in your pocket.
Without tooting my own horn too much, I have created some amazing resources (both free and paid) for financial advisors to improve their marketing. I hope you’ll take advantage of them.
ALSO READ: 9 Tips For Creating A Financial Advisor Business Plan
5. Invest In Yourself
Here’s a joke for you…
What do you call someone who spends all day telling other people to make investments when that person doesn’t invest in him or herself?
And most financial advisors are hypocrites because they expect clients to invest with them or spend thousands of dollars on a financial plan when they can’t even invest a few bucks in their business. 😂
Prospective clients can smell the inconsistency from a mile away, so if you’re a new financial advisor, make sure you invest in yourself.
This can be difficult, especially because some financial advisors pride themselves on being frugal. Saving money is like a competition they have with themselves. Unfortunately, this can bite you in the butt. Here’s an example of how it happened to me…
About a year ago, I bought a new computer…
I got the best processor, the best graphics card, 64GB of RAM, a solid-state drive, and more. It makes my old computer look like…
A TOTAL PIECE OF CRAP!
And to be fair, it was…
I bought my previous computer for around $400 at Best Buy. I used that computer to build The Advisor Coach into the business you see before you right now.
My new computer’s total cost clocked in at over $2,000… and it would’ve been much more expensive (like $4,000+) if I didn’t build it myself.
It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about how much faster I could’ve been all these years. How much time have I lost because I was “saving” money with a $400 computer?
It’s a shame, really.
Because the WORST area to “save” money is when you’re investing in yourself or your business. You should view EVERYTHING as an investment instead of an expense.
If spending $2,000 on a computer helps me make an additional $100,000 over the next few years, is it really an expense? No. And in my case, I shouldn’t have been priding myself on “saving money” with a cheap computer. I should have invested the money as soon as I possibly could.
I was stupid.
If you’re someone who has the latest smartphone and eight different streaming services yet balk at the idea of investing money to improve yourself… you too, are stupid.
If you’re someone who gladly took on $50,000 of student loan debt (which comes with no guarantees) yet get “triggered” when someone like me tells you to buy a product that comes with a money-back guarantee… you too, are stupid.
However, you don’t even have to invest money.
You can invest time.
That’s what I did before I had any money.
I read everything I could get my hands on. I studied everything.
No TV…. no entertainment… no barhopping… none of that B.S.
I took every waking moment I had and invested back into myself.
You can do the same.
However, I must warn you…
Investing money can speed up the process and make things way easier because you can shorten your learning curve and take action faster.
Doing everything yourself is like cutting your lawn with scissors. Sure, you can get it done… but I’d rather have a lawnmower.
I’m sure you feel the same way.
Now, go out and crush it. I wish you nothing but the best. And if you’re interested in seeing the special product I’ve created specifically for new financial advisors, here’s where to go: Your First Year As A Financial Advisor