Want to Improve as a Financial Planner? Find a Mentor

There are plenty of things you can do to improve your financial planning skills and grow your career. Pursuing an advanced degree, getting your CFP® certification, and taking continuing education courses are all great options. 

One-on-one learning is just as important, but it’s not something you can usually find in a traditional classroom. So how do you get the opportunity to learn directly from another financial planner? Mentoring.

Finding a mentor is one of the best things you can do for your career. It gives you a chance to learn in a way that’s different from a textbook or online course. Sometimes it takes a little work to seek out a mentor and initiate that relationship, but it’s 100% worth it.

Be Humble

Before you start looking for a mentor, you need to make sure you are cultivating the right mindset so you’re ready to learn once you have a teacher. You need to recognize that you don’t know everything and be willing to ask others for help. 

The longer I spend in this profession, the more I realize how much more I can learn and grow. Yes, I have a successful practice and I’m passionate about educating new financial planners, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t look for people I can learn from too.

I think the thing that really separates excellent financial planners from average ones is having a teachable mindset. It’s so important to be humble and recognize that there is always room for improvement.

It’s easy to see your need for a mentor when you’re first starting out. But that ability to learn from others doesn’t just magically go away once you reach some arbitrary measure of “success.”

Other financial experts (and professionals in different fields) can give you new perspectives and different viewpoints. You can learn things from people who have been in this profession longer than you have, and from those who are just starting out. With the right mindset, you can learn from people of all ages at every stage of their careers.

So, ask yourself what you need to learn. Which areas do you feel you could improve? Once you know that, look for people who are doing those things better than you and find a way to learn from them. 

Look for Learning Opportunities

What exactly does it look like to find a mentor? Some financial planning firms offer formal mentoring relationships, pairing new team members with seasoned professionals. If you have the opportunity to join one of these programs in your firm, I’d highly recommend it!

But what if you don’t work for a big firm? What if you’re just starting out on your own or you’re working in a smaller firm that doesn’t have a formal mentoring program? You might have to do a little extra legwork, but you can still find (or create) opportunities to learn from others.

You can develop mentoring relationships outside of an official program. Simply look for others who know more than you, and figure out how to learn from them. Maybe ask a senior planner in your firm if you can meet for coffee once a month. Or strike up an email conversation with a planner you “meet” through an online community. 

There’s no rule that says your mentoring setup has to look a certain way. It’s more about your attitude and your goal. If you’re willing to learn and you take the time to reach out to those who can teach you, that’s really all it takes.

Pass on Your Expertise to Others

As vital as it is to have a teachable attitude, it’s equally important to be willing to teach others. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in this profession or how young (or old) you are. Just like you can always learn from others, there is always someone who can learn from you. 

Be open to providing advice and guidance to others. Maybe you won’t be in a formal mentoring relationship for a few years, but you still have so much to offer. Check out your local FPA chapter, or engage in an online community. Take a minute to reach out to a summer intern at your firm. The most important thing is your willingness to help others.

There’s Always More to Learn

No matter how far you are in your career, how many clients you have, or how big your firm is, you can always get better. You can always learn something from other people. 

Finding a mentor is an excellent way to grow your career. And being a mentor for someone else allows you to develop new skills while giving back to your professional community. You’ll never reach a place where there’s nothing left to learn. And there is always someone who can benefit from your expertise. Surround yourself with people who can help you grow.

Do you have a mentor? How do you look for and find people to learn from? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

Mentoring doesn’t have to be super formal or official. It can be something as informal as occasional emails or online conversations. The Amplified Planning community is a great place to learn from others. 

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