Rookie and Wannabe

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May 3, 2006 3:29 pm

Hi everyone -

I need some career advice.  I am currently working at a small advisory firm targeted to the HNW market.  The firm has approximately $400M AUM.

At present, I am definitely in a support role, doing everything but prospecting (obviously because I only have three years work experience, two of which were in accounting).  I want to further my career with the main goal of being a financial advisor.  My firm is extremely supportive, but its resources are limited (i.e. no formal training).

Here is where I am stumped:

1) Should I move to SB/ML to get my feet wet with prospecting (I have no sales experience) and also get some formal training?

2) Pursue CFP/CFA and stay with firm?  If so, which?  CFP or CFA? I'm one step away from getting my CPA.

Given, there are a lot of other factors that will influence my decision, but I need and want to hear some insight from the seasoned pros.  Any thoughts are appreciated.

May 3, 2006 4:16 pm

I am a fan of the CFA, personally.

May 3, 2006 4:24 pm

Bringing in the money is the job. Managing it is the easy part. Well, most days. To bring in the money you first have to find it. Once found, your job is to convince that propect that you, above all others, are the best candidate in which to entrust their financial future.

You could try another financial institution for training. None, and I repeat, none of these great companies can possibly train you to close on new money. And they all have worthy training programs. That's because bringing new money in the door is, like it or not, a sales process. As a newly minted FA you will either be selling financial products such as mutual funds and bonds, or financial services such as loans and fee management programs. Maybe you'll do both. Either you have what it takes to turn a cold contact into a revenue producing account, maybe you don't.  

As I've said before, trainees lacking sales experience start with a built in handicap. This is a tough environment to find out you don't have it. It being the ablity to close the sale and the ability to pick yourself up after you've lost a big prospect. Especially true with the wolf at the door and your branch manager at your desk.

Lacking sales experience the next best career move to prepare one for our industry is to get a tough sales position. Bag sales jobs such as copier sales are great training grounds, as is pharmacutical sales. Even car sales can toughen you up and give you a realistic view of what to expect as an advisor.

No one is going to beat a path to your door because you're good at what you do. We're all good at what we do.

If you've never sold before here is a simple exercise to try. It's as old as dirt, but it works.: Pick up a pen from your desk and come up with all the reasons one should own that pen. What about that pen makes it unique? Then find someone you know very well. Sell them the pen.

This is simple features and benefits selling. The exercise uses many of the day to day selling duties you'll be tasked to do as an advisor such as knowing the product/service cold and knowing what features of the product/service will benefit the client. Lastly, by role playing with someone you know well, you should know that person's likes and dislikes, much as you would that of serious prospect. Applying what you know about the pen to the likes/dislikes of the prospect while meeting their need for a writing tool should lead to a sale. Want to be a financial advisor, go sell someone a pen.

Yeah, I know it sounds stupid.

May 3, 2006 4:37 pm

I think where my level of discomfort lies is that the product that my firm sells (planning for HNW) is very complicated.  Obviously, when selling financial planning services to a client with net worth of $50M and up, they don't want to talk to a 23 year old with 3 years business experience. 

Maybe I should just keep with the firm as I love the work environment and shadow the top partner in a sales pitch.

BrokerRecruit - why would you recommend CFA as opposed to CFP?

May 3, 2006 5:13 pm

"BrokerRecruit - why would you recommend CFA as opposed to CFP?"

I'm curious about this too.  I'm perhaps a bit biased toward the CFP since that is what I have, but I always understood that the CFP covers a broader spectrum (investments, financial planning, taxes, retirement and estate planning) but not as deep, while the CFA is an intense, exhaustive program covering a narrower focus (investments) in much greater depth and is more suitable for money managers.  It would seem to me that most of my clients could benefit from a broader knowledge base.

It would be interesting to see that Baron's top 100 investment advisor list and see what credentials those folks carry...I suspect that there are more CFPs than CFAs, but that's just my guess since I haven't seen the whole list.

May 4, 2006 9:54 am


"BrokerRecruit - why would you recommend CFA as opposed to CFP?"

It would be interesting to see that Baron's top 100 investment advisor list and see what credentials those folks carry...I suspect that there are more CFPs than CFAs, but that's just my guess since I haven't seen the whole list.


I haven't seen the Barron's list for this year's top 100, however, based on the top producers I know and know of, I'd be surprised if many of the top 100 carry either designation. Marty Shafiroff and Ira Walker, both on the list, I believe neither have CFP/CFA. I'm not downing the importance that education plays in our industry, just a casual observation of the way things are in a major metropolitan area.

Marty Sha