Success has come early for NAIFA member Robert Hendrickson, who has been working as a financial advisor for small businesses and individuals since 2007. In a recent interview, Hendrickson, a past recipient of Advisor Today’s Four Under Forty Award, shared some of the steps he has taken on his way to the top.
NAIFA: You started your professional life by teaching music to schoolchildren and switched to the insurance industry in 2007. Why did you make the switch from teaching to financial services?
Robert Hendrickson: Although I have always had a love of teaching, the idea of enjoying the freedom that a career in the financial services affords was foremost on my mind after observing the 30 years that my dad spent in the business.
NAIFA: What are your areas of expertise?
Hendrickson: I work primarily in retirement planning, as I help my clients maximize their income, minimize taxes and handle volatility in the markets. I also have a huge passion for mentoring.
NAIFA: Your practice is built mainly on referrals. Tell us your secret for getting clients to refer you to others.
Hendrickson: Other than providing the standard great service and asking questions all the time, a new development has been the incredible resource of social networking. People actually create a list for you of the people they know. All you have to do is show this list to them and ask them, “So, whom on this list wouldn’t you call?”
NAIFA: You achieved career success at an early age; in fact, you were one of the 2012 recipients of the Four Under Forty Awards. What advice would you give to young agents seeking to advance in the business?
Hendrickson: Before you start, clearly define your “why.” Mine comes from a fervent love of my family and God. Once you start, focus on high activity and an impeccable process for a couple of years. Then, join organizations you believe in, but make sure you aren’t joining them in order to get clients. Finally, get involved in NAIFA. We tend to get “inbred” ideas from the companies for which we work, but at NAIFA, you will meet members from other companies and they will give you a fresh perspective or a great idea that may well change your career.
NAIFA: You are the proud owner of many industry designations. Why do you spend your time and resources getting designations, and how have they helped you in your career?
Hendrickson: At first it was sheer survival. I started out not knowing the difference between a hedge fund and a hedge trimmer, and as I am an analytical person, that was unacceptable to me. Since then, I have found myself to be a lifelong learner.
NAIFA: A couple of years ago, you wrote a book for new business owners, titled Who Empties My Trash? What main message were you trying to convey in the book, and why is it important to new business owners?
Hendrickson: To summarize the book in one sentence: All businesses need one or more advisors. The book is designed essentially to share ideas about what we do with these businesses and how we position ourselves as their advisor.
NAIFA: With your busy workload, you must have developed some excellent time-management skills that enable you to do all that you do. Describe one or two techniques that help you make the most of your time.
Hendrickson: The best advice is to follow the “four quadrants,” the time management grid that is part of Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Some days you live in the “Urgent Important” quadrant, and on other days, you make it to the other quadrants. The key is to always start there, give the day your best, and you’ll be less stressed and go home without worry.
NAIFA: How has NAIFA membership helped you grow personally and professionally?
Hendrickson: From NAIFA I have gained the ability to learn from people who don’t think the same way I do. And NAIFA’s Leadership in Life Institute is the best leadership and personal-development program I know.
NAIFA: How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?
Hendrickson: At work I stay in the quadrants I mentioned earlier, and I always remember that I work to live – not the other way around. Randy Marshall once said, “Work as if everything depends on you. Pray as if everything depends on God.”
NAIFA: What two things would you like readers to take away from this interview?
Hendrickson: 1. Work hard. 2. Pray hard.