Does how young you look matter?

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Jun 6, 2008 10:45 pm

I have been reading many of these insightful posts recently, in order to help myself understand what I am to expect in the coming months of starting out as an FA. I did have some questions of my own to ask, some of which I am sure have already been asked. I have used the search function to look over many of the older posts but between sifting out many non-essential posts and looking for some more direct answers, I felt compelled to ask some questions.
I guess the best place to start would be with a little background on myself:
I am currently 22 and I just graduated with my degree in finance. (which apparently does not mean much in this industry). In terms of sales experience, most of my previous jobs have been sales jobs but nothing I would consider professional experience (they have been in retail, restaurants and so forth). I have contacted a few firms in my area…so far I have gotten back a few responses–Edward Jones - Smith Barney - and First Command (which I do not intend on going further with-chances for success much more uncertain that with the other two and no salary). One necessary clarification would have to be that I have yet to get a job with any of these companies–I am only in the initial stages but they have shown some interest in me.
I had a F2F with the gentleman from First Command and he mentioned something of my natural market and such. This got me thinking though- he asked me where I would plan on finding my prospects. I understand the basic idea of prospecting- get clients whether it be through door knocking, cold-calling, seminars, and the like. However, at the age of 22 and I do look young for my age (as in I barely pass for 18 if I do not have my id handy) how realistic is it that people will trust me with their savings?
 I don’t really want to go the friends and family route, but I am sure at some point I would provide some service to them…I can foresee, perhaps, generating some referrals through them initially.
I know some on this site might feel I am overly confident when I say I have no apprehension about securing employment, and passing the exams - that is my strong suit but when it comes to prospecting I feel like I might be fighting an uphill battle. People trust those they can relate to and if I was young but I look older than it would be an issue but just not one as critical (gaining trust is always an issue).
Also when you go door knocking, if thats how you choose to prospect, would it be a bad idea to go in your own neighborhood? I live in town where everyone lives in different developments (thats suburban Florida for you) so I was thinking I would just travel to the different developments, including my own, and door knock but I feel it would be awkward asking them to trust me with their money when I do no look much older than their 16 yr old son and probably shorter also (5’7 on a good day ).
Also one more thing—EJ or SB…which is better? Any input at all would be helpful

One more thing…some might say im looking for excuses already to fail so I should just quit now…and that not what I am doing. I am simply trying to be realistic to gage what my chances for success will be given that circumstance. I am going the FA route regardless, and im going to work hard regardless but given the already dim chances for success I would like to now how much dimmer my youth makes it…

Sorry if this was long and drawn out

Jun 6, 2008 10:55 pm

One more thing: I am not trying to be presumptuous of peoples reactions to my post but from lurking on here for a while, I know people on here can really pick apart someones post, so I was trying to make sure I have all my bases covered.

Jun 6, 2008 11:49 pm

I started when I was 22 fresh out of college (I was offered a position with a wirehouse before I had actually graduated).  It’s tough…no doubt about it.  People can come to trust you, but you have to work hard.  You have to be able to relate to people, have some decent knowledge about what you’re talking about, and use your back office to help in situations when you need it. 

  One thing I found, oddly enough, was that older prospects (between 70-80) could not tell very well that I was 22.  To them, I could've looked 35.  And, much like you, I looked young for my age.   I wasn't anything special, although I might have thought I was.  Yes, because your network isn't as developed had you had a previous career, you will face a tougher time.  It doesn't mean you can't be successful though.  I would give a lot of credence to those who say get a sales job, become successful, and make a network.    Regarding your other questions, if you choose to dive straight into this, I wouldn't doorknock in your own neighborhood.  Something about not shitting in your own backyard kind of applies here, in my opinion of course. 
Jun 7, 2008 1:28 pm

Regarding your other questions, if you choose to dive straight into
this, I wouldn’t doorknock in your own neighborhood.  Something about
not shitting in your own backyard kind of applies here, in my opinion
of course.

Fair enough…I know that I plan on working in my town but im guessing there are some better avenues to takes when prospecting for clients.

Interview with all the firms in your area.  Be aggressive.  If they
don’t call you back, march your ass down to their office and find out
why, and get an appointment with the branch manager.
Ice - I am being exactly that person in my hunt for a job in this career path–I am going places and talking to people and trying to make as much happen for myself as possible because I know people aren’t going to make them happen for me.
I am still a little clueless as to what the real difference would be between a places like EJ and SB…I have read some posts and I understand they are different but I do not understand why one would work better for someone than the other…I am leaning towards SB but I am not sure my reasons even hold up: I believe they have a better brand name and they pay you salary for 30+ months (I am not planning complacency, but I would much rather have guaranteed money in addition my gratuitous commission for as long as possible) I addition, I would be working at their office from the start as opposed to waiting maybe a year + to get my own.

In regard to my family and friends thing, I understand that if I am in a position to help them, I would like to but I also do not want them to feel like they are my test subjects while I am in the starting process of building my business. I would much rather wait till I am more experienced, so  can go to them and ask them to trust me with their money, not because I am a friend or relative, but because they can trust my my experience and know I will do right by them. Is that the wrong frame of mind?

I am still skeptical about how young I look, but you make valid points. I guess if I know what I am talking about, I come across professional(which shouldn’t be a problem), and really take the time to relate  I can do it. It will be a little bit harder for me but I will only appreciate my success more in the end.

Thanks so much for your replies so far!

Jun 7, 2008 2:48 pm

Being young is a problem, but one that can be overcomed.  If considering EDJ, take a look at their PASS program.  You would work in the home office for 2 years and then take over an office of around 5 million.  This would give you some experience and a chance to look more “mature”.  I think PASS is great for someone right out of college.

Jun 7, 2008 3:59 pm

I would like to but I also do not want them to feel like they are my test subjects while I am in the starting process of building my business.

    A youthful appearance can be overcome with confidence and knowledge.  Sure there are people who will not want to work with you because of your age, but there are people that will not work with a broker because of sex, nationality, facial hair, the color of your tie... you get my point.  The statement that I quoted is a bigger problem for you in my opinion.  If this is your self image, it will come across to strangers and will hurt you. 
Jun 7, 2008 4:38 pm

Henry…I will look into the PASS program…thanks for the insight

Primo…I understand what your saying and Ill agree to the extent that it is a self-image thing. Not so much in the sense that I feel I couldn’t do a good job but I do not want to guilt my family and friends into it. I know the idea is to get clients and sometimes the manner in which you get them will not always make you happy–but for me its just that I know my family and friends would feel almost pressured to let me manage their assets because I am a family member or friend and being knowledgeable and able to do the job would come secondary. In the larger scope of things I realize this isn’t really a big issue…it is something that I will get over and maybe even more quickly than I think I will.  I suppose it comes down to the training and feeling confident that I can do well by them and in that regard who offers better training:EJ or SB? - “better” of course being subjective but all that I have read here has talked about the EJ training but not so much about SB.

Again thanks for all the responses–I really appreciate all of your input!

Jun 9, 2008 11:13 pm


  I'm 23, look 12, and am currently in training at a wirehouse.  I'm by no means an expert, but this is my 2nd professional financial service sales position.  My last sales job was 100% over the phone, usually working off cold calls.  When I first started, I sounded like the nerdy computer geek that I was.  I was nervous beyond belief on every call.  Our calls were recorded so every day after hours I would go and listen to my calls.  I'd take notes to see how I sounded compared to the mid-30s veteran superstars.  There were some noticeable differences, and applying those to the way I talked made an incredible difference in peoples' attitudes towards me.   The point I'm trying to make is that age is not as big of a factor as demeanor.  Even a 40 year old can sound 14 if he says 'dude, like, & totally' all day.  Practice carrying yourself with maturity and it won't be an issue.    As far as EJ vs SB, I'd suggest the latter.  They're more selective and there is a reason for that.  You have more choices as far as the type of business you want to build.  EDJ is doorknock or bust.  Buy n hold, buy n hold.   Also, it's not a bad thing getting friends and family for business.  Definitely don't rely or focus on that whatsoever, but realize that you managing their assets is you doing them a favor.  Don't put much risk in their portfolios, since you want to have good Thanksgiving dinners down the road, but keep in mind that if you're not managing their investments, somebody who isn't as good as you will be.   Best of luck