Essential qualities for success as a financial professional

How do you measure success? It can be subjective and difficult to quantify.  As a financial professional, however, success is undoubtedly tied to the financial success of your clients.  

Achieving success in the financial industry doesn’t require a specific type of personality or investing strategy. Hard work and strategic thinking certainly play a part, but there’s more to building a reputation — and a successful life — than merely putting in the work hours and recommending the “right” portfolios.

No matter your perspective on success, there are steps you can take to help establish and exhibit the qualities clients look for in a financial professional.

1. Demonstrate trustworthiness

Confidence is a crucial aspect for those seeking financial advice. The average investor may not have the knowledge or financial literacy required to evaluate the hundreds of investment opportunities and products the market has to offer. 

There are a lot of voices competing for your clients’ attention — and their assets — and it can be difficult to know which financial advice to trust.

Your reputation can play a role in whether an investor chooses to work with you. Building a good reputation requires nurturing connections in your community and with current clients, helping to lead to potential referrals. Many prospective clients also read online reviews and check social media profiles, so it’s as important as ever to establish a professional and positive social media presence.

You’ll also need to put time and effort into building client relationships and earning their confidence long after they first walk through your door. Ask questions and seek to understand each individual client’s needs, wants, fears and hopes for the future. Resources including Behavioral Finance tools can facilitate conversations to help them articulate their values and understand how their emotions affect them.

Truly show you care by taking a holistic approach to clients’ wealth and their overall financial wellness, and get to know them beyond their investable assets.

2. Stay informed

Some financial professionals get so busy building their business that they don’t take time to build their knowledge and expertise. When did you last attend a conference or trade show? Do you reflexively hit the delete button when an email promoting a new product or resource shows up in your inbox?

It’s all too easy to rely on go-to products and tactics that served you well in the past. But it’s important to not grow complacent. The world around us is changing, and you’ll need to adapt to those changes when necessary. Expand your awareness of new investment products and stay informed about emerging trends, regulations and tax implications. Your clients look to you as an expert, so deepening your knowledge is essential to growing your book of business and keeping your current clients happy.

Consider broadening your knowledge base through event networking which can provide insights and ideas that you simply can’t glean from articles or seminars. The relationships you establish with other experts can continue to pay knowledge dividends in the future.

Don’t forget to leverage the resources and knowledge of dedicated product teams to ensure you have a thorough understanding of product benefits, features, rules and other information. When clients hear you talking about the latest insights or products that offer advantages beyond traditional portfolios, they may be more likely to recommend your services within their personal networks.

3. Be the expert

Elite financial professionals often have a few things in common: 

  • First, they know their products inside and out
  • Second, they take time to study, learn and understand the market and how it’s most likely to perform
  • Third, they know their clients and the challenges they face, and they develop appropriate strategies to help solve their problems

Successful financial professionals also have a keenly developed sense of empathy. They understand how and when to show compassion, ask more questions or simplify financial jargon in ways their clients can understand.

That’s not to say that credentials aren’t important. They can help demonstrate expertise and ethics and put an investor’s mind at ease. Clients may feel more confident working with someone who’s achieved a master’s degree in finance or earned their Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) title. When investors see that you strive for personal achievements and success, it can be an indicator that you’ll take the same approach toward their financial strategies and success.

Define success on your terms

If you love what you do, then, by many standards, you’ve already achieved success.

Perhaps no greater measure of success is the level of fulfillment and satisfaction you receive from helping clients reach their goals. Working as a financial professional and helping clients overcome challenges and achieve financial security can lead to a truly rewarding career. 

In order to achieve that fulfillment, however, you need to attract those clients off the sidelines. Once you’ve got their attention, you’ll need to help them overcome any fears they may have about investing, and the potential for loss in volatile markets. Fear is a big motivator and can cloud a person’s judgment. Connect with clients on a deeper level to help them navigate their emotions, attitudes and impulses by leveraging our Behavioral Finance Advice (BFA™) program with guidance from our BFA-certified wholesalers. 

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