Various characteristics separate good financial advisors from the bad and the successful from the unsuccessful. Whether you want to become a financial advisor or simply need to hire one to help with your financial planning, here are five traits to keep in mind that most successful financial advisors have.
- Successful financial advisors have a large book of client business and a track record of performance and service.
- Getting clients and having them stick with you—and recommend you—means being professional and putting your clients first.
- At the same time, you need to have a deep understanding of the markets, analytical skills and training, and have a passion for finance.
1. Passion for Financial Planning and Wealth Management
The successful financial advisors are the ones who have an absolute passion for the subject. This is important because standards, laws, methodologies, and products within the financial and investment worlds are constantly evolving.
When a financial advisor has a huge passion for the subject matter, that person naturally gravitates toward learning more and more about the industry every day. Those without that passion consistently fall behind and struggle to keep up with industry developments. That alone can be the difference between success and failure as a financial advisor. A good question to ask financial advisors with every conversation is, "What's new in the industry?"
2. A Deep Analytical Ability
There are many areas involved in a complete and thorough financial plan. Cash flow planning, retirement planning, investment management, insurance planning, estate planning, and tax planning are a few key areas that a competent financial advisor can help clients with. A deep analytical ability across all of these areas is important, but it is perhaps most important in the investing portion.
Successful financial advisors know that the risk and return relationship drives almost every aspect of a financial plan. Structuring an investment portfolio the proper way and being able to reallocate the assets as time and goals change is crucial. It is important for a financial advisor to be able to analyze and plan a portfolio in the context of a variety of metrics, such as standard deviation, beta, strategic asset allocation, tactical asset allocation, and drawdown.
3. Professional Salesmanship
This is a key requirement for successful financial advisors. Financial advisors must grow their book of business to thrive. Being able to sell their services across the entire spectrum of financial planning, from investment management to estate planning, is necessary for financial advisors to be successful. Granted, sales of services or products shouldn't be made solely to make a sale. The service or product must genuinely help the client.
However, salesmanship nonetheless is necessary. A financial advisor must be able to clearly communicate to the client the problem or gap in his or her financial plan that exists, properly convey the solution, and as a final step, ask for the client's or prospect's business. A financial advisor who cannot muster up the courage to ask for business will undoubtedly get none. With this in mind, the next trait is crucial.
4. A Belief That Interests Must Be Aligned
Successful financial advisors are ones that put the interests of their clients first and their own interests second. The advisor must believe that the financial interests of both parties should be aligned, or else a harmful relationship may occur. It is unnecessary and unethical to sell a client products that the client doesn't need, such as irrelevant insurance policies or insurance policies with too much coverage.
Certain investment products fit this category as well, such as mutual funds that have high sales loads, since there are countless comparable and better mutual funds without such loads.
In addition, charging higher than-necessary investment management fees is not good practice. A successful financial advisor shouldn't charge 2% on assets under management when 0.5% is typical for the same service. Successful financial advisors help people and are compensated fairly; they don't drain their clients of their hard-earned money.
Uncovering precisely what a client needs across all aspects of financial planning is similar to detective work. Small details must be found and pieced together, and a comprehensive solution to a large problem must be created and communicated. Successful financial advisors are ones who enjoy this process and thrive on the challenge.