It’s brutal. The part of financial planning you can’t learn in a book and nobody can train you for. Sitting across the table from someone who has spent thirty years at a company, only to be let go. Head in their hands and distraught. They had been loyal. Given their life to the company. Now they felt completely blindsided and unsure what to do next. They never planned for this.
“Will my family be ok?”
I was 24 and they were looking to me for financial guidance. I never felt more unqualified to provide anything in my life.
The first time I encountered this scenario I was green and uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, I experienced this conversation so many times that I eventually had a lot of practice. By the fiftieth time, I was confident and prepared.
I am often asked, “aren’t you young to have launched a financial planning firm?”
While the answer is yes, it doesn’t feel that way because of the breath of my experience and the repetition of facing these difficult scenarios.
My brother, Mike, is also a financial planner. Despite being only 26, he is exceptional. I’ve noticed his expertise has increased leaps and bounds in a short period of time. We were discussing his growth, and comparing my early tenure at Fidelity with his experience there now, and the enlightenment hit us.
The reps are incredibly important.
I averaged over three meetings per day, helping clients grapple with their most daunting financial decisions. Sometimes this frequency felt overwhelming. But now, I know the high volume of meetings prepared me to launch the firm. The repetition shortened the learning curve to which point our office jokingly compared the young advisors’ tenure in the industry to “dog years”.
Our office always thought three meetings a day was normal. It’s not. Never mind a day, some advisors are happy if they conduct three client meetings a month.
We learned grey hair can be earned differently.
There are numerous fields, including financial planning, where quantity does matter. Seeing a situation play out dozens and dozens of times allows you to anticipate and prepare for the pain points.
Shortly after my conversation with Mike, I came across this great post from Ben Carlson, one of our favorite financial writers, which inspired this post you’re reading. In it, Ben says,
I get a lot of questions from people about how to break into certain business lines in finance at a young age or during a career transition.
There’s no singular path to success in any endeavor so my advice to anyone looking to further themselves is to put in the reps, even when they seem meaningless.
If you want to become a writer, start writing every single day, even if it’s terrible.
If you want to become a better investor, start reading about the markets, and put some actual money to work.
If you want to work in a specific company, start out as an unpaid intern or figure out how to provide value to someone who already works there.
If you want to become an entrepreneur, quit reading hashtags on Instagram and actually try to start a business or sell a product.
If you want to become something or someone you have to put in the reps.
There are no shortcuts.
With this in mind, how can you position yourself to get more reps and expedite your learning curve?
Presenting more? Speaking more? Writing more?
Each interaction will bring more confidence and soon your age will have little correlation to your actual experience. You won’t be able to help but smirk when someone asks, aren’t you a little young to have…