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Looking Back at the Lessons Learned by a Young Advisor

It’s difficult as well as intimidating to launch a career in an established industry with equally experienced professionals when you are the ripe young age of 23. However, with the right mindset, knowledge and tools, it is possible to overcome the obstacles that cause 80 to 90 percent of financial professionals to fail within their first two years in the business.

Here are tips on how you as a young advisor can get ahead in the industry – not just surviving your first two years, but thriving as well.

Seek the Right Setting for Your Work Style
Identifying the right type of career – whether corporate, independent or part of a small business – is crucial. I learned early on that the corporate financial life was not for me. While a fresh college graduate may not know exactly what their style is, it’s important to take the time to figure it out. That time may be spent in various internships or even a first job out of college. It’s worth the extra effort because you’ll be happier and achieve more success in a career that matches your work style. The first two years are the most crucial for new advisors to develop. After working hard to obtain your degree, you want to be part of the 10 to 20 percent who succeed.

How to Nail the First Meeting
You should give clients as much information as possible in your first meeting. Share with your clients your ideas about how you can plan together for their financial future. The first client meeting is where you can adjust the focus away from your young age and toward your work experience, knowledge and tools. This also allows you the chance to sell your clients on your business capabilities. All financial advisors have the same set of tools available to them, which puts young advisors on the same playing field as seasoned professionals.

At these meetings you also should highlight your strengths and show how you personalize your relationship with the client. For example, at each initial meeting, I am casual with my clients and learn personal details about them instead of focusing only on their financials. This lets them know I actually care about them as people, not just as clients. Throughout this conversation, you learn about your clients and identify their goals and problems. After these initial meetings, another personal touch would be drafting a letter containing the details of the conversation which reinforces everything you plan to do in the financial plan. In turn, discussing your own work experiences and personal interests gives the client the knowledge to make an informed decision on whether to continue working with you.

Turn Your Age Into an Advantage
Financial advisors are in this business for life. At a young age, you have the ability to develop long-term relationships with clients because you’ll be with them for the next 30 to 40 years. It’s important to turn your age into an asset, showing how a relationship can be developed and that you’ll always be there for your client. This is an overarching message that can help develop the relationship during a first meeting.

Choose the Right Mentor
Seek an older mentor to provide advice and help guide your professional development. Someone with more experience can teach younger protégés lessons that they learned over time and that can help any advisor get off on the right foot. It’s important to find a mentor early to help you make it through the first two years. My mentor, whom I met at a networking event through Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) in my third year in the business, reached out at just the right time – and before I made the mistake of leaving the financial industry altogether. With my mentor’s guidance, I was brought back to the reason I love being a financial advisor.  

It’s equally beneficial to “pay it forward” and become a mentor to someone else.

Stay at the Forefront of Industry Changes
Something that will help you not only stay afloat but also thrive at the top is staying at the forefront of any industry changes and adapting your business to those needs.  

The financial industry may soon see a huge push from the government to change to a more relationship-focused industry as a whole. We’ll soon be moving from a suitable sales standard to a fiduciary standard. Since you’ll be in this industry your whole life, knowing and adjusting your particular business style to predict future changes will give you an advantage over others.

Overall, the greatest insight I could give any prospective financial advisor is to work on building as many relationships as you can. Relationships are the basis of each of these pieces of advice. Keeping relationships at the core of everything you do will help guide you to success in the financial industry.


Tyler Hirth is an independent financial advisor with MetLife. He has been a member of MDRT for three years, is vice president of NAIFA - Minneapolis and is Young Advisor Team chairman for NAIFA-Minnesota. Tyler may be contacted at [email protected] [email protected].

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