I am a bit of a weird one: at 27 years old, I am fast approaching my 11th year in the profession, but I would be lying if I said my path from office junior to chartered financial planner has been a smooth one.
So, for any other young advisers out there, here are 10 things I have learned so far.
- It is not all about qualifications. I have come to realise that, overall, clients really do not care. Of course, we should strive for the highest level of technical competence, but this is not what clients truly value. They want a sounding board: someone to call on in a time of need. My clients have taught me more than the textbooks ever could.
- Immerse yourself in your clients’ lives. I can tell you the hobbies and interests of every one of my clients. Show an interest. If they are travelling to a new country, buy them a guide book. If their child has just graduated, send a congratulations card.
- Give before you receive. We expect an awful lot when we meet prospective clients. They are entrusting us with their life savings but, typically, all they have to go on is a couple of meetings and a nice brochure. You need to give, give, give before you can expect anything in return. We build prospects a comprehensive cashflow plan before we expect any sort of commitment.
- Get intentional. Every decision you make should be made with the end in mind. Do not drift off in the wrong direction. If you tell yourself that, by 35, you will be working with 100 families paying a minimum of £5,000 a year, stick to it.
- Get control over your own finances. Would you hire a personal trainer if they got out of breath just walking to the gym? If we are to advise our clients on their financial lives, we must have gained control over ours. I am not talking about being mega wealthy – I am talking about having control. Emergency fund. Life cover. Wills.
- Find your tribe. The real turning point in my career came three years ago when I joined Capital. Prior to this, I spent nine months working for a large firm that did not share my values or beliefs. There are fantastic businesses up and down the country – if you feel your current one does not share your values, find another that does.
- Learn to say no. Your time is the most valuable resource you have. Say no to colleagues if they ask you to do something that is not an effective use of that. Say no to prospects that are not going to get you closer to your goal.
- Learn from others. I am fortunate to spend my days surrounded by some of the UK’s most highly regarded chartered financial planners. I constantly ask them for feedback and advice. I record my meetings and get them to critique. Find others that have more experience and absorb from them.
- Age is just a number. My age has never been an issue for clients. My eldest client is in his mid-80s and we get on like a house on fire. Once they realise you have their best interests at heart, age is irrelevant.
- Enjoy the ride. In the right environment, surrounded by the right colleagues and clients, this is the best job in the world.
James Greenly is a chartered financial planner at Capital Asset Management