My Days as a Financial Advisor

Experience as a Financial Planner is one thing that is highly regarded in our profession. We usually hear from the most successful. I unfortunately am not one of those, but I think I have a story to tell nevertheless.

I’ve had two attempts in my life at “Financial Planning”. One as a “Financial Consultant”, selling products. And one as a “Financial Planner” selling advice. I was dismal at both.

The first part of my story began as I emerged, vacuously naive of the world, from varsity, but fired up with conviction around theories like determinism, postmodernism and existentialism. I’d studied really practical stuff, Philosophy and Psychology, and unsurprisingly, was unable to find a J O B.

My old man was (and is) a Financial Advisor that generously invited me into his independent brokerage to try and make a living. I spent a month on Liberty’s “ITP” course where I learned a whole library of new, indispensably important concepts, like “tax”, “deductions” and “compound interest”. #MindBlown. I’m a half-competent student and swallowed all the new information wholesale, including the use of Blueprint, the jedi-night sales tool that created a shortfall graph in the event of death, disability and retirement. This I was led to believe, coupled with the thick report as an accompaniment, was a sure-fire sale once shown to the client.

Once again, I was emerging into the world, this time, sharp as an arrow, fired up with (more relevant?) concepts like “liquidity”, “donations” and “estate duty” … ready to bestow upon a needy populace, the benefits of life insurance, RA’s, investments and medical aids deluxe.

I had a fancy title, a laptop computer, my old man’s 1980 730i BMW (with WildCat free flow exhaust) … all I needed was a sweet looking business card and the clients were sure to come flocking. The business card consumed an inordinate amount of energy, but I finally settled on an outright copy of the contemporary look of one of my dad’s plumber clients … portrait orientation, black background, topped off with my newly minted “BA (Hons)” credentials. BOOM. With all the important stuff out the way, all I needed now was clients.

My strategy for new clients was to do an introduction via post, enclosing within, a shiny brochure from one of our product providers. Also, pamphlet dropping at the traffic lights for a cheap medical aid, which “everyone needs”. Sending the post and standing at the robots felt like I was earning an honest day’s wage. I was busy doing stuff. Not seeing clients though. My enthusiasm for these efforts slowly petered out as my rate of success amounted to nought.

Fortunately, I was well diversified in my Marketing efforts, as I was also plotting the conquest of clients from my father that he hadn’t engaged with in ages and that more or less suited my “age profile”. The only stumbling block to success in these engagements was ME.

Actually meeting with clients turned out to be like the dog that catches the proverbial bus – I’d rather have been standing in the hot sun with a an acre of pamplets to distribute. In hindsight, I realise, I was terrified of clients. I would fumble around the fancy laptop like it were a dead snake. I’d go completely blank when trying to enter data. I’d spill my coffee. I’d forget where I was from one step to another. I could barely finish a “Ben Duffy” (I’m sure some will relate to this) worthy of putting in front of a 6 year old. I felt like a complete fraud trying to talk about fancy financial stuff where I’d barely learned what income tax was, not six weeks prior. Every effort I made to rehearse the things I was taught, was met by blank faces and spiraling eyes which would send me into a blind panic. If the floor could have opened and swallowed me whole, I would’ve been ever grateful.


Scroll to top