Starting out as a financial advisor promises a steep learning curve as you try to learn about how to provide valuable advice while at the same time ramping up your business with relentless prospecting. Fortunately, you don’t have to start out “cold” and you can avoid many of the mistakes of the financial advisors who have gone before you.
If you want to take charge of your career and advance faster than you thought possible, then you will want to actively build relationships with mentors. Some firms already have a mentoring program in place, perhaps one that pairs a seasoned veteran with a rookie.
One of the differences that helps make a big business is its board of directors. A board of directors is like an advisory panel of experts, each bringing in years of far-ranging experience in the key areas that the business needs to know.
That is how you should think of mentoring – not deriving your best practices from a single mentor whose name may have been randomly drawn for you but rather as a growing pool of formal and informal mentoring relationships acting like a board of directors for your growing practice.
Create a Board of Mentors
Start by listing the areas of your business that you want to grow. For many advisors, that will probably include prospecting and productivity, but it might also include more specific things – such as how to get referrals or how to offer seminars. List as many areas as you want to grow in your business. If you get stuck for ideas, here are some questions to help you:
What is the step-by-step process that you perform to get clients? (i.e. How do you prospect? How do you build rapport? How do you present to them? How do you turn them into clients?)
What are the top producers in your firm doing right now that you aren’t doing?
Next, find people in your firm who are excelling at that exact area right now. You don’t have to choose someone who has been at the firm since it started, especially because some aspects of the industry have changed since they were first in the business. Rather, you should identify people in your firm who are truly excelling at that specific area you’ve identified regardless of their time with the firm.
Think about how you want their help. Determine how much time you need to spend with them regularly to get the guidance you are looking for, particularly in those bigger-impact areas of your business that might require long-term changes or continuous feedback.
Finally it’s time to approach them. Tell them about the area of your business that you want some input on and ask for a short-term or a long-term mentoring relationship.
Some people you talk to have a passion for helping others and will welcome the opportunity even if they are busy.
Other people you talk to might be reluctant but may understand your situation of being new and eager to learn the business.
Some people will tell you “no”. Thank them for thinking about it but don’t take it personally.
Prior to sitting down with your mentor, share with them your goals and even consider writing out a “mentorship covenant” on paper – one that clearly outlines what you hope to get out of the relationship while also outlining the responsibilities of each party.
The time you invest with your mentors now will pay dividends throughout your career.
Rosemary Smyth, MBA, CIM, FCSI, ACC, is an author, columnist and an international business coach for financial advisors. She spent her career working at leading investment firms before pursuing her passion for coaching. Her first book, “101 Success Tips and Strategies for Financial Advisors” is available on her website at www.rosemarysmyth.com. You can email Rosemary at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aaron Hoos, MBA, has worked in the financial industry since 1997. Formerly a stockbroker, insurance broker, and award-winning sales manager, today he writes for the financial and real estate industry as an educator and marketer. His first book, “The Sales Funnel Bible”, helps advisors master their sales funnel. Visit his website at www.AaronHoos.com and follow him on Twitter @AaronHoos.
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