This is a guest post by Sara Gelsheimer.
I always knew I wanted to help people in my career. That’s why I chose social work as my major in college. At first, the only reason I took a basic finance course on the side was for my own knowledge — I wanted to manage my money effectively after graduation.
But one day, my finance professor took me aside and asked if I had considered working as a financial advisor. I thought that would mean a career as a cold-calling salesperson, but my professor enlightened me. A certified financial planner, or CFP, isn’t a salesperson; CFPs are advisors who help people through the various stages of life (e.g., buying a home, retirement, and estate planning). When I asked myself, “Should I become a financial advisor?” the answer was easy. After all, it would allow me to combine my love of helping people with my penchant for numbers.
Anyone can become a financial advisor, but not as many women are encouraged to pursue it as I was. That’s part of the reason why the number of women in the financial industry is so low. Currently, women hold less than a third of advisor roles — and some studies put that figure even lower. Many believe, as I did, that finance is all about selling. But there are so many interpersonal skills needed to work as a financial advisor, like empathy and communication.
These skills — and the current working situation of financial advisors — perfectly lend themselves to mothers. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom who wants to reenter the workforce or you’re just seeking a career change, financial advising might be the perfect fit for you.
What Are the Benefits of Being a Financial Advisor for Moms?
Like most parents, the coronavirus crisis forced me to embrace a new normal at home. Being a working mom is hard, but I’ve been so grateful to be able to advise from home. Technology allows me to meet with clients across the country via video, but it also enables me to deepen my relationships with my family.
I work the hours that make sense to me, throwing in a load of laundry between meetings, getting dinner in the slow cooker during my lunch, and spending time with my son throughout the day — something that was impossible when I was commuting to work. It’s a true blend of motherhood and work that’s not possible with most other professions.
Because of the coronavirus, flexibility has become the norm in financial advising. This is important for women who desire a rewarding and lucrative career while continuing to be active in their children’s lives. As you can see from my experience, this is one of the biggest benefits of being a financial advisor.
What’s more, as the economic impact of the pandemic becomes clearer, advisors will need to pick up the pieces, give families hope, and help individuals save and invest wisely for their futures. There has probably never been a better time to start a career in financial advising — especially for women who have children.
How to Be a Good Financial Advisor
When clients are asked what makes a good financial advisor, the top responses are trust, a willingness to listen, and transparency. Curiously enough, they don’t mention analytical skills or spreadsheet wizardry. People want to work with someone who seeks to understand them and who can act as a sounding board for their hopes and worries.
Financial concepts can be learned, but many of the softer skills — like active listening and empathy — come from an innate desire to help. Sounds a lot like being a mom, right?
Should You Become a Financial Advisor? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself
While the skills ingrained in you from raising kids lend themselves perfectly to financial advising, there are other considerations to keep in mind. Ask yourself the following questions before entering the field:
- Do I enjoy helping people achieve their goals?
Helping people recognize and realize their financial goals is a huge part of financial advising. According to a survey by Cerulli Associates, the desire to do this is especially present in women.
- Do I have the desire to learn continually?
Financial advisors have to be lifelong learners. The world of finance changes every day; to understand the current state of everything from tax planning to charitable giving, you need to continue to expand your knowledge.
- Do I like meeting new people?
One of the financial advisor’s main jobs is to talk to people. Through these conversations, you’re able to educate, explain complex topics in a clear way, and understand your clients’ needs.
- Am I organized?
Financial advisors tend to be highly diligent people, often scoring way over the general public for conscientiousness. If you’re organized and disciplined, you’ll be better able to help clients reach their goals.
- Can I handle rejection?
This is where a seller’s mentality can come in handy. Because half of all sales happen after five interactions, you must be willing to follow up with people and deal with plenty of rejection. Advisors who are patient and calm will be more likely to persuade potential clients that they can be trusted.
If you’ve ever wondered whether you should become a financial advisor, know that it’s a better time than ever for women in the financial industry — especially moms. Could financial advising be the path for you?
About the guest post author:
Sara Gelsheimer is a senior wealth manager at Plancorp, a full-service wealth management company serving families in 44 states. Sara came to Plancorp with a strong financial background and a commitment to financial education for women. Sara’s passion helped spur InspireHer: Plancorp’s Women’s Initiative, which empowers women to find their financial voice through a platform where they can connect with others, ask questions, and have their concerns addressed in a comfortable setting. In her free time, Sara volunteers as a mentor with Boys Hope Girls Hope and sponsors two young women in Uganda through Hearts & Hope for Uganda. She enjoys live music, hiking, biking, and most of all, spending time with her husband, son, and daughter.