In the past, learning to be a financial planner was something that you only did after spending years successfully selling financial services products. If you couldn’t “pay your dues” by doing the marketing and business development to get enough clients in the first place, you didn’t get to go take CFP classes and become a financial planner. You lost your job by failing to validate your (sales) contract.
In today’s environment, the tables have turned. Now, increasingly, new financial advisors arrive having already completed their financial planning education and passed the CFP exam. And not surprisingly, they’re looking for jobs where they can implement that financial planning knowledge with clients. Only to be told that they, too, must still spend time “paying their dues” in a back-office job before they get the opportunity to work directly with clients.
In this week’s #OfficeHours with @MichaelKitces, my Tuesday 1PM EST broadcast via Periscope, we dig into the whole concept of “paying your dues”, and why it actually is still relevant for financial planners today, even for those who studying financial planning before seeking out their first job.
Because the reality is that doing financial planning well is more than just having the technical financial planning knowledge. It’s also about having the skills to communicate with and interact clients – to show empathy – and find and bring on new clients as well. And if you don’t understand the inner operations of how the advisory firm works in the first place, you will also struggle to be successful as an advisor, as the reality is that a successful advisory career still means successfully working within, or creating, a business that serves clients, not just sitting across from the clients in meetings.
And in this context, “paying your dues” is not longer just about doing busy work for the sake of busy work, but actually learning what it takes to be a successful financial advisor, and practicing those skills (which takes time, even for the best of us). Just as Michael Phelps trained 6 hours a day for 6 days a week throughout his career – not to pay his dues but because that’s what training is – so too should new financial advisors be prepared to put in the time. Not because they’re paying dues, but because that’s how you really practice and develop and ultimately master your skills as a professional!
Accordingly, new financial advisors should embrace the opportunity for any kind of real job in an advisory firm, even if it’s not client-facing. Because anything, from helping with trading to doing operations paperwork, is relevant knowledge when you’re getting started and have so much to learn and experience.
Of course, once a skill is mastered, it’s time to find a new opportunity – which means moving up in the current firm, or finding a new job at a new firm if necessary. Failing to do so can turn a learning experience into a dead-end career track. But ultimately, that still doesn’t mean it’s bad to “pay your dues” – it’s simply an acknowledge that once you’ve taken a few years to learn the tasks, do what it takes to move forward and continue to advance your career to the next stage!