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How to Become a Successful Advisor in Your First Year

Steve Taylor April 27, 2022

For financial professionals just embarking on—or restarting—their career as a financial advisor or planner I have some advice to lend, based on my own trials and tribulations of starting and running my own fee-only advisory practice.

While I had worked in the financial services business since 2005 with a number of different companies, I settled on really wanting to do things my way and reach people who were traditionally underserved.

The following steps are based on the lessons I learned while creating my own practice. I believe they can help any new advisor or planner become successful in their first year in business.

Find Your Niche Market to Serve

This is my first piece of advice because I think it’s so incredibly important to define and understand what differentiates you as a financial advisor or planner. Of course, you likely have the ability to serve all ends of the income spectrum and people at different stages of life, but it’s a feat to serve everyone well—and to perfection.

If you find your own specialty, whether it’s as niche as dentists or athletes, or specific to retirees, it helps ground your value proposition. Identifying what you can do for these types of clients specifically will also help you build deeper expertise and grow a referral network. From a marketing standpoint, choosing what market to serve is vital.

Determine the Pricing Model That Will Best Serve Your Clients and You

Fees and pricing go hand-in-hand with your value proposition and who you are serving. The fee structure is often one of the first things people want to know when working with a financial advisor and can be a filter of whose services they even consider.

If you specialize in a particular type of client or niche market, there may be an ideal pricing model for that client base. This is an area to do considerable market research. Understanding the financial nuances of your niche clientele can guide your fee strategy. You’ll also want to outline what would be included to build a high-quality, complex plan for the people in your niche as that will help you scope the amount of time that may go into your planning engagements.

But the other consideration you want to be sure to account for is what do you need to make in order to live out your own lifestyle. You’re doing planning for other people as a financial advisor, but seldom do you actually reflect on what you need. Define your must-haves and goals to be clear on the number and pricing model that’s going to also serve you best.

Carefully Choose Your Tech and Financial Planning Software

A typical advisor tech stack may have several components—from a CRM to performance reporting, a billing system, and more—that are necessary to efficiently serve your clients. Importantly, you’ll need a financial planning software that has the capabilities you’ll need for the type of planning you’ll be doing for your clients.

Do your clients’ needs reflect more of an evolutionary plan? Or do you they have more complex needs, with advanced tax strategies and estate planning. Can the solution grow with your clients’ needs over time? Is providing clients with a great website to view and store all their data important? Evaluate your options. Select the planning solution that will serve the clients you want to acquire and keep.

Create Repeatable Processes with Technology

The true benefit of arming yourself with technology is that as a solo financial advisor you are going to need efficiencies to gain scale. Creating core processes will make you so much more efficient and organized.

I’ve heard another colleague equate the importance of repeatable processes to that of a well-known, fast-food chicken joint. Why the franchise can be so successful and keep people coming back is because the experience created is reliably good—you know exactly what you’re getting every single time. This provides comfort to clients. They don’t want to see you disorganized. They want to understand what your process is, what you’re going to be doing for them, and what comes next.

One of the first things you should do is prepare a list of the services you’ll be providing the client on an ongoing basis. Actually sit down and write them out. Perhaps set the list up against a client service calendar so they can see all the times throughout the year you will be working with them on their plan and investments. This exercise can also help you set up scalable, repeatable processes and allows you to articulate your value proposition and explain your fees—no matter what pricing strategy you use.

Perfect Your Value Proposition

And nearly last, but certainly not least, you’ll want to perfect your value proposition so that it’s pretty much ingrained in your head from the get-go. You want to develop an elevator pitch that doesn’t sound overly salesy. This message should come from the heart and also relay exactly what a client can expect when working with you. Be sure to answer why you do what you do and who you do it for, in a concise manner.

This message will be central to your marketing strategy. And you want to relay that to as many people as possible, either face to face, or through digital marketing platforms like social media. You need to get that message out and be consistent with it.

Make Time for Continuous Learning

While I think the steps above help to spell out success for any new financial advisor, I would be remiss not to mention the value of continuous learning. As any new professional does, you will likely fight a bit of imposter syndrome early in your financial advisor career.

To keep confidence high seek out learning opportunities. Look to mentors, look to industry certifications and designations, or even invest time developing your skills with your technology to gain that efficient edge.

And if you’re still looking for more opportunities on how to become a better planner and advisor, check out the eMoney Continuing Education (CE) webinar series where each month you’ll have the chance to expand your skill set and earn CE credit.


DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.

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About the Author

Steve Taylor, CFP®, Senior Financial Planner of Collaborate Planning Services at eMoney, works as a planning partner to help firms expand their business. Prior to his time at eMoney, Steve ran his own fee-only RIA to reach those who were underserved by traditional financial advice models. He has nearly 15 years’ experience in the financial services industry developing his expertise around delivering value through wealth management and financial planning.

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