Starting out as a financial advisor promises a steep learning curve as you try to learn about how to provide valuable advice while ramping up your business with relentless prospecting at the same time. Fortunately, you don’t have to start out “cold,” and you can avoid many of the mistakes made by financial advisors who have gone before you.
If you want to take charge of your career and advance faster than you thought possible, then you will want to actively build relationships with mentors. Some firms already have a mentoring program in place—perhaps one that pairs a seasoned veteran with a rookie.
One of the differences that helps make a big business is its board of directors. A board of directors is like an advisory panel of experts—each bringing years of far-ranging experience in key areas.
That’s how you should think of mentoring—not deriving your best practices from a single mentor whose name may have been randomly drawn for you, but rather as a growing pool of formal and informal mentoring relationships that act like a board of directors for your growing practice.
Create a Board of Mentors
Start by listing the areas of your business that you want to grow. For many advisors, that list will probably include prospecting and productivity. But, it might also include more specific things like how to get referrals and how to offer seminars. List as many areas as you want to grow in your business. If you get stuck for ideas, here are some questions to help you:
- What is the step-by-step process that you perform to get clients? (i.e. How do you prospect? How do you build rapport? How do you present to them? How do you turn them into clients?)
- What are the top producers in your firm doing right now that you aren’t doing?
Next, find people in your firm who currently excel in that exact area. You don’t have to choose someone who has been at the firm since it started, especially because some aspects of the industry have changed since they were first in the business. Rather, you should identify people in your firm who are truly excelling in that specific area regardless of their time with the firm.
Think about how you want their help. Determine how much time you need to spend with them regularly to get the guidance you are looking for— particularly in those bigger-impact areas of your business that might require long-term changes or continuous feedback.
Finally, it’s time to approach them. Tell them about the area of your business that you want some input on and ask for a short-term or a long-term mentoring relationship.
Some people you talk to have a passion for helping others and will welcome the opportunity even if they are busy.
Other people you talk to might be reluctant but may understand your situation of being new and eager to learn the business.
Some people will tell you “no”. Thank them for thinking about it, and don’t take it personally.
Prior to sitting down with your mentor, share your goals and consider writing out a “mentorship covenant” on paper. This step will outline what you hope to get out of the relationship while fleshing out the responsibilities of each party as well.
The time you invest with your mentors now will pay dividends throughout your career.