Do you know when it’s a great time to become a financial advisor? During a pandemic! Hear me out.
I am a planner. I always have been. One of my favorite people once told me that I was “the two most organized people” he’d ever met! So, when I chose to make a career change after 20 years in publishing, naturally, I planned.
Having taken maternity leave two years earlier, I already had an extensive list of my job responsibilities, how to do each, timing for each, and the best person (if not me) to handle each. Expanding on that list, I quickly formed the version that would go to my successor. (Of course, that list probably changed dramatically in the months that followed.)
That’s right. My timing for a career change was in line with a recession created by a global pandemic, which of course I had no awareness of when I gave notice at the company I’d been with for 20 years. But as I set up my schedule to start studying for my SIE, Series 7, Series 66, and Life and Health Insurance exams (while being exposed to an entirely new culture and business structure, I might add) to become a financial planner, and with my almost constant “glass half full” mentality, I looked at the timing as possibly the best time to enter my new field.
You see, while people were wondering if they should pull out of the market, buy bricks of gold, or stash cash under their mattresses, I was in the process of rolling over my 401k to an IRA with my new employer – and I was anxious having my money out of the market even just for a couple of weeks!
Between bouts of studying, I listened to financial podcasts and television shows, watched the market, and talked to my colleagues about what they were seeing. If there was ever a crazy time to start this career, this was it…but for all the right reasons. I mean, if you’re going to do something, go all in, right? Learning this job during a volatile market brought an energy and urgency that I came to appreciate quickly. I harnessed that energy to learn more about the market in a short time than I probably ever would’ve during a “normal” market.
(Of course, my outlook on my timing is much like the topics in The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel that I’ve been listening to on audible. The book explores how doing well with money often has a lot to do with your perspective and your behavior.)
Now here I am, just about a year after I started this path, reflecting on what I didn’t know one year ago. I wish I could tell everyone entering the advisory world to start at a time like this – because beyond the accelerated learning curve, the national and global uncertainty allowed me to have a lot of conversations with people who wanted a plan for their finances so they wouldn’t have to worry in the future.
So, what would I tell you if you don’t work with an advisor yet? I’d start with the steps my mentor reiterates daily. Do what you can to max out your 401(k) at work (or open an IRA if you don’t have a 401(k)). Have an emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses. And think twice before taking generic advice like “pay down your mortgage by making extra payments!” That advice may be good for some, but if your interest rate is low, that may not be the optimal use of your extra cash based on your personal long-term goals. After you’ve got those basics under control, find a financial advisor you trust who can help you set and stick to your overall financial plan.
This is your life we’re talking about, and it’s kind of a big deal. The decisions you make now dictate whether you retire comfortably or not. And what I love most about this job so far is that we help you plan the steps to take toward the future you envision for yourself. But we also know that life changes and evolves, and we’re here for all of that too. Like I said, I’ve always loved to plan – now it’s my job.
Robyn Wolcott is an LPL Financial Advisor with Warner Group in CT. She can be reached at 203-929-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.