Motley Fool Answers Mailbag: How Can I Become a Great Financial Planner?

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In this segment of the Motley Fool Answers podcast, Alison Southwick, Robert Brokamp, and special guest Ross Anderson from Motley Fool Wealth Management consider how to help a young man prepare for what he hopes will be his new career. He's off to a good start, but there's more to being a financial planner than just knowing about money and investing.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Nov. 7, 2017.

Alison Southwick: The next question comes from Ben. "I'm 24 years old and have decided to make a career change to financial planning. My question is in the 12 months before I make the switch what can I do to set myself up for success in my new career? Three things I'm already doing. One, reading lots of books on investing, personal finance, sales and marketing; two, starting a blog that delivers financial advice to a niche..." Do you say "neesh" or "nitch"?

Robert Brokamp: I say "nitch." "Neesh" just sounds so pretentious, but you go right ahead. You be you.

Southwick: Starting a blog that delivers financial advice to the exact people I would like to serve, which are people in advertising.

Ross Anderson: Is that a "neesh"?

Southwick: Or is it a "nitch"?

Brokamp: Or is it a "nitch"?

Southwick: Argh! And finally, the smartest thing Ben is doing is listening to podcasts like Motley Fool Answers. What else can he do to get ahead of the game?

Anderson: It really depends on how he's going to enter the business. Part of Ben's note talks about wanting to enter a training program at an independent broker/dealer, which is great. If you're going directly into production, you're going to try and find clients and help them with their investments directly, the No. 1 thing that you need to do to be successful is figure out where those clients are going to come from, so the sales and marketing books are going to help you a lot.

The reality is that you can't help anybody until somebody is willing to accept that help. That's really the thing that I think a lot of folks miss when they're getting into financial advising is that they are passionate about investing, they're passionate about the technician side of what they do, but not prepared to go find their own clients.

So whether that's your natural market, folks that you know, or if you're just going to find some other way of generating those folks to talk to, if you've been moving cities and things like that, that may be a little bit of a challenge. So being social, getting out in the community, making sure you've got folks to talk to.

The other way to get in, of course, is to go join an existing practice. Work with somebody that needs some assisting on, whether it's development of the financial plans, data entry, or some sort of a paraplanning role, and then move up into more of a production capacity. That's not necessarily as fast of a path in terms of the income potential, but those would be the things I'm really thinking about there.

Southwick: What was your path?

Brokamp: I went straight into production. I joined the industry in 2008 and it was horrible.

Southwick: Oh, you must have had a lot of angry phone calls.

Anderson: It wasn't even angry calls. I didn't have anybody that was angry with me. I didn't have any clients yet.

Southwick: Oh, OK.

Anderson: I was just getting kicked in the teeth. I was like 22, fresh out of college, just as dumb as I looked, and I was like, "I'd like to help you in the middle of this major market correction." What could you know?

Brokamp: Given my vast experience.

Anderson: Yeah, exactly. The folks in many cases told me "No thanks," and they were probably correct at the time.

Southwick: And then what happened?

Anderson: I did almost exactly what I just described. I ended up joining a team as more of a paraplanner developing somebody else's financial plans. Working with an established practice and then worked back up onto being on my own two feet.

Brokamp: As mentioned in a previous podcast when I talked about my story, I did the exact same thing, and that's certainly how I would recommend that most people get into the industry.

Anderson: You can get too comfortable in that role, I think. If you ultimately want to be a producer, one day you're going to have to go do it. You're going to have to go ask for the business. You're going to hear a lot of nos. You're going to hear more nos than yeses. But having the confidence in your own ability to help people is important. I think that's what you gather from being in that assisting role.

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