Whether you’re just starting out or well into your career as a financial planner, there’s always more you can learn. There are countless articles and books about how to succeed in this profession, but many of them focus on building up your technical skills through education, certification, and career development courses.
While all of those things are good and important, they aren’t the only things necessary for success in this profession. It’s also vital to focus on areas that will help you get the most enjoyment and satisfaction out of your work. Here are my top tips to becoming a successful financial planner with an effective and fulfilling practice.
1. Figure out your personal values
There are many different styles and methodologies in the financial planning profession. That diversity is essential because every client is different. What works for one client might not work for another.
But that’s also true of financial planners. You shouldn’t try to clone another planner’s branding, work method, or style simply because they are successful. It’s far better to spend the time to figure out how to apply your personal values and priorities in your career.
For example, it’s really important to me to build a work schedule that gives me enough time with my family. That’s one of my values, so I’ve made changes in my workflow to honor it. You might have a similar value or one that’s totally different. The key is to identify what you want for yourself in your career and then make it happen.
2. Be an impact player
I’m intrigued by the concept of impact players, which Brené Brown covered on her podcast a few months ago. The basic idea is that impact players are those people who are willing to step up and get things done when necessary, even if it means going outside their specific job description.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be involved in every project or on every team – that’s probably a recipe for burnout. But it does mean that sometimes you can look past your job title or your assigned role and take on a bit of extra responsibility when you know you can do a great job.
Impact players are important in every profession. Developing this sort of reputation for yourself can lead to promotions or extra opportunities in your firm. Don’t be afraid to step outside your box every once in a while to help when you can.
3.) Give the extra 10%
It’s great when you have the opportunity to be an impact player, but sometimes it’s more about going the extra mile for yourself in your career. You don’t have to be part of a team project to give a little bit extra in your work.
For example, you can spend some extra time before a client meeting making sure your plan for them is well-defined and based on their needs. Or you can get your CFP® Certification even if your manager or company doesn’t require it. That extra 10% effort is often what makes someone stand out to their clients and colleagues.
4. Get creative!
Creativity isn’t something we talk a lot about as financial planners. Many people who are drawn to this profession are “left-brained” individuals who are more comfortable with logical and analytical tasks than creative ones.
But creativity is essential in financial planning. There are countless situations that call for a dose of creativity:
- When you have to come up with a new solution because the conventional approach doesn’t work with a client
- When you need to figure out how to network even though you’re an introvert
- When you need to decide whether to take the next step in your career
- When you’re preparing for a job interview or developing your personal workflow
Financial planning is all about problem-solving, and honing your creativity is an excellent way to ensure you can develop those solutions when you need to.
5. Celebrate your wins
To grow your career, you need to look for ways you can improve. You might need to practice your communication skills, continue your professional education, or work on overcoming your personal biases to serve your clients better.
However, it’s also essential to identify and celebrate your professional victories. Taking the time to reflect on your successes can help you maintain your motivation through periods of boring work or difficult clients.
You might want to set up a time every month, quarter, or year to mark down your accomplishments and achievements. It’s a great time to decide what your next goals will be as well.
6. Don’t forget to rest
Finally, prioritize rest in your personal and professional life. This might sound like the opposite of giving an extra 10%. But it’s really all about balance.
There’s a time and place for going above and beyond in your career. You might go through seasons where you’re spending your off-work hours studying for a certification exam or dealing with the responsibilities of having a new baby. But those seasons must be balanced with times of rest. Trying to go hard all the time will only end in frustration, burnout, and exhaustion.
Rest doesn’t always look the same. Sometimes it might be small things like scheduling a long lunch so you have time to meditate, power nap, or read a novel. Other times might call for a more significant rest, like taking a two-week vacation or even a sabbatical. The key is to stay in tune with your body and mind so you know when and how you need to rest.
Create the financial planning career you want
There are many things you can do to improve your chances of success in your financial planning career. But before you start making a list, take the time to identify what success looks like for you. Maybe you want to start your own firm and make a plan to retire early. Or perhaps maintaining a flexible work schedule and having time for family and hobbies are more important to you.
Once you define your version of success, you can figure out how to go after it. At the end of the day, the best tip is to remain true to yourself and your values. That’s the key to building a career that will bring you long-term fulfillment.
What are your top tips for succeeding as a financial planner? Let me know in the comments below!
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