They might insist that an investment advisor has years of experience, but be open to mid-career newcomers from non-financial backgrounds.

When buying a financial advisor, people most often look for someone with experience and expertise. However, do not exclude mid-career professionals who have changed careers to become consultants. Even if they lack experience in the financial services industry, their diverse work experience can be helpful in a meaningful way.

“Being a financial planner is so many soft skills in dealing with clients,” said Sara Stolberg Berkowicz, an assistant professor at the College for Financial Planning, who is also a certified financial planner. She adds that mid-career newcomers who have worked in the helping professions, such as psychologists, teachers, and nurses, may possess strong interpersonal skills that allow them to clearly explain complex ideas, build bonds with clients, and gain their trust to win.

“They had to solve different types of problems so that they could take the knowledge and skills from previous interactions and look at a new problem in a different way,” she said.

These lateral entrants enrich the profession, said Berkowicz. They can apply training and skills from their previous job to become better consultants. “They will help build the field [of financial planning],” she said. “You can help your team select better investments and treat clients better. Diversity of opinion helps improve decisions.”

Experienced consultants, on the other hand, hone their communication skills over time. They learn to listen more instead of pleasing customers with their technical know-how. They also collect a wealth of anecdotes to illustrate key points and become compelling storytellers.

“Veteran financial planners have a long-term perspective that helps guide their advice,” Berkowicz said. For example: “You’ve seen changes in tax laws over the years. They’ve seen a lot of different market cycles and how we’ve recovered,” is how they can reassure anxious customers.

Experienced counselors are also keen observers of family dynamics, she adds. You will learn how to deal with tricky situations, such as B. dealing with a client with early signs of dementia or facilitating civil conversations between quarreling couples.

From her experience as a consultant, Berkowicz knows that even long-term practitioners can get into ruts. Years ago, she inherited a business ledger from a deceased consultant. She noticed that clients all had the same type of portfolio with the same types of investments.

“We call this status quo bias,” she said. “We like it when things stay the same. But markets change and people change. If you look at a new problem with old eyes, you may not see new opportunities or new threats.”

When choosing an advisor, consumers are often less focused on asset allocation, proprietary trading strategies and other technical aspects of portfolio management. Instead, they want to feel a relationship with their financial planner. Better still, they want the advisor to treat them as an important, high-value priority (even if they don’t have a large fortune).

Consultants who are, for example, former pilots, police officers or professional athletes could attract clients in these areas. Some investors like the idea of ​​working with a financial planner who appreciates the nuances of their profession.

“As a consumer, it’s reassuring to know that a consultant understands the issues that are important to you,” said Jason Watt, an associate professor at Business Career College in Edmonton, Alberta. “If you find a career changer who has a similar background to yours, you can talk shop.”

Also read: When financial advisors ask you about your earliest money history, you’re helping them discover the truth

Plus: How to select and maximize the benefits in your new workplace They might insist that an investment advisor has years of experience, but be open to mid-career newcomers from non-financial backgrounds.

Brian Lowry

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