Advice For The Young At Heart

I’ve just come off the phone to a bright and enthusiastic young man who is looking to be an adviser and wanted some tips on how to go about it.

Amongst other thoughts, I suggested he reads Adviser Lounge. Which means he’ll probably be reading this. So I’d better tread carefully! *waves out from the internet*

It’s interesting to stop and reflect for a moment about the industry in which we work. How must we seem to an outsider? How does one answer the question ‘What should I do in order to get a job as an adviser’?

To paraphrase Groucho Marx, these are my heartfelt and considered suggestions, and if you don’t like them, I do have some others…

1. Firstly, decide what you want for yourself. That interview question ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 year’s time’ is a cliche because it is such a key question to be able to answer. Anyone coming for a job with the general attitude ‘I’d like a change of direction, and being an adviser looks interesting’ presents a risk for an employer. Better to have a clear vision of what you can be and then find the job that requires that person.

The rest of these tips assume the answer to that question does actually point to the individual to be a client facing adviser.

2. You have to do CII exams but you won’t actually use much of this knowledge. Advisers don’t need to be technicians these days (but paraplanners do). Sorry. I know that’s rather depressing to hear, but the powers that be say you have to do CII exams, so get through them.

3. Join the IFP. Their CFP exam will give you more insight and practical knowledge than all the CII exams put together.

4. Avoid joining firms who require you to have your own clients.

5. Likewise, avoid taking a self employed position UNLESS you are secretly thinking of starting your own practice in the future.

5. Study some form of coaching skills. You won’t get this within the industry, you’ll have to find it yourself (or ask me!). The ability to help clients understand themselves better will make you a considerably more effective adviser.

6. New business development skills. This is an interesting one. It used to be a prerequisite – the ‘here’s a few clients, now go and find your own’ type job. Your answer to Q1 will determine whether this is for you, or whether you’d rather join a firm which already has clients that need looking after.

Think about this carefully – in my experience everyone likes the idea of bringing in new clients, but few people actually enjoy the process, and fewer still are actually very good at it. Those that do have this skill, however, tend to be paid more. You get invited to be a partner of Ernst & Young by being a fee earner, not by being technically proficient.

7. Don’t use recruiters, at least not for firms like Ovation. Small firms are far more impressed by a well aimed and researched direct approach.

8. Understand the importance of compliance. The days when the compliance officer was referred to as the ‘Business Prevention Officer’ are long gone (hopefully!).

9. The overall message really is decide what sort of adviser you want to be, and approach the firms that operate in that way.

10. Don’t give up.

I appreciate these tips are general to someone and don’t give any actual specific direction (I’ve no experience of a financial services degree, for example). I am also biased to how Ovation operates. So please comment and add your own ideas, let’s build up more tips so we have somewhere to point those crazy people interested in becoming advisers.

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