14th May 2020
Being a Financial Consultant is not for the faint hearted.
This article is purely based on my own opinion and it does not represent all other Financial Consultants’ view.
The headline may sound blunt or too in your face, but the truth is that being in this role isn’t always like a bed of roses.
December 2019 marks my first year as a Financial Consultant after leaving the HR Corporate world with more than 15 years of experience under my belt. This past 1 year as a Financial Consultant has been enriching yet a challenging journey for me. A career and life as a Financial Consultant (FC) is far from being a bed of roses. Like a bell curve, out of the hundreds of new FC who joined yearly, only the top 20% of the newly joined FCs make it look easy, achieving awards and milestones but it is also the hard work that they put in to achieve these, which many do not see. Most of the FCs will fall in the broadest category, ensuring they do the best they can, as long as they can pay their bills in the coming month and hitting some incentives. Lastly, are those in the bottom category, just trying to hit the bare minimum and to survive in the game.
Regardless which category we fall into, most of us have the same common vision, which is to help reach out to as many out there as possible. To help protect more lives and preserve their wealth. But, this role is not suitable for everyone, especially if your “Why” is not a strong conviction for you to survive in this industry.
Below pointers are my personal journey as a mid-career switcher and hopefully gives an insight on who can “flourish” or “perish” in this industry.
Rejection and objection are real. And of course, many of us had already expected these when we decided to join this profession. We can be taught on how to handle objections, but the reality hits you hard when you are constantly being rejected and the objections received are harsh sometimes. Even when you expect your closest friends or family members to support you, it turned out otherwise. Clients stood you up for appointments, clients cancelling their policies on you after the free-look period or clients calling in to complain about you even though you did nothing wrong. All these become part and parcel of our role as a FCs. We must learn to manage our emotions.
This is where we must learn the art of being resilient, like a doll who never falls, we must keep bouncing back each time someone knocks us down. Learn where we went wrong and improve on it the next time round or simply just move on and not get emotionally attached to a failure.
We need to learn how to overcome and manage the fear of failure.
“Forget about the consequences of failure. Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success” – Denis Waitley
Knowledge and Discipline
Though all FCs take the same exam papers which is mandatory to become a licenced consutlant, the remaining knowledge journey is up to the individual. Not only do we need to be well-versed with our own product knowledge, familiarity with our ipad functions, internal compliance and way of doing things internally in our own agency, we also need to be aware of industry news, current affairs and regulatory requirements.
Industry news, new product launches and way of doing things are constantly changing, we need to keep abreast of all these and be on our toes so that we can value add to our clients. In my HR world previously, we call it Business Partnering. In this context now, we need to partner with our clients so that they can see the value we bring. In another words, we need to be disciplined, hardworking and constantly increase our knowledge, not just from administrative or legislative point of view but also the way we do prospecting and case preparation. With no fixed working hours and set KPIs to hit, we need to be disciplined to set out our own targets, attending trainings on our own, coming out our own schedule and prospecting methods. Laziness and procrastination can easily set in if one is not disciplined enough.
Never shy away from learning and your success will be enhanced if you are discipline to succeed.
And of course, the greatest trait everyone is saying a FC must have is empathy. It helps if you have an empathetic personality as we should always put ourselves in the client’s shoes. Some people may naturally be empathetic comparing to others, personally I feel empathy is not an inborn trait but a learned behavior. Even if you feel you may seem to be low in empathetic skill, that doesn’t mean it is the end of the world, you just need to practice and observe more. Most importantly, we need to be real and never let greed cloud our natural empathy to our client.
Positive thinking will give us the motivation, energy and ability to succeed and it will enable us to go through the toughest times. A positive attitude is the difference maker here. I know thinking positively is easier said than done but it will have quite an impact on what we can and can’t do. Think positively and we will be able to manage and do well, once we let negative thoughts take a hold and we are likely to feel powerless and overwhelmed. We need to be constantly mindful to replace negative thinking with positive thoughts.
Even small wins are celebrated, that is how positive thinking should be, no matter how big or small the case size might be because ultimately, our purpose in this role is to help others. We just need to focus on things that make us feel good about ourselves.
Keep thinking the reason WHY we are in this business.
Leadership and Mentorship
I recalled my husband asking me why I took such a long time to decide to join Assets Prestige Alliance (APA) under Prudential, an insurance agent is just an insurance agent. His view on this industry is that we are all self-employed and we are supposed to just hit the road and run. And I wish it is that simple, but he did not realize that mentorship, leadership and culture of the agency is of equal importance. I have heard of horrible stories out there of many agency leaders who just recruit and forced their newly recruited FCs to hit unreasonable targets and doing things they might not be comfortable with. With minimal or zero guidance, these new FCs are being thrown into deep end of the pool and expect to thrive, hence I have heard so much of high attrition rate in this industry. For a mid-career switcher like me, we need to find that leader and agency which values are align with our own.
Support from your family, peers and your agency are utmost importance to your success and to be able to sustain in this tough industry. When things get tough, this inner circle of support will be the ones who will get you through the tough times.
My family knows how challenging it is from my transition of a highly paid employee to someone whose monthly pay is fluctuating. My husband had first-hand experience of how rejection feels like in my role and told me straight in my face that rejection is a norm, which is kind of true. But never once did he ask if I regretted my decision or asking me to go back to the corporate world. I hope he sees the passion I have put in this role.
So is this for you?
Before you decide to embark on this profession, ask yourself if you are prepared for the change and be ready to take charge. Often than not, I hear people comment that FCs earn big bucks in this business, drive good cars or donning that luxury watch. Do not always believe what you see, because underneath that all, you did not see the hard work which was put in. I must say being in this role does offers me some financial and time freedom, I love what I am doing now but being a Financial Consultant is really not for the faint hearted. Always remember, the reason WHY you want to become a FC and I’m pretty sure you can succeed in this business.
14th May 2020