associate advisor at WSC Insurance Group in Oakville, Ont.
He’s been an associate for four years, is licensed to sell insurance and mutual funds, and is currently pursuing his CFP.
Defining his ideal client early in his career, and being clear about his services.
How he got started
In university, Field majored in history and political science. He then worked as an editor for nearly a decade. But, he says, “there wasn’t a lot of stability. I wanted a career where I could help people.”
So he decided to become an advisor like his father, who’s been in the industry for nearly 40 years. He’d seen his father “work one-on-one with clients and get to know them in depth.”
While getting his degree, Field had taken several business courses. So, at age 30, he says he decided to join WSC Insurance Group, where his father works alongside three partners. Field then got his insurance and mutual fund licenses.
Degree of difficulty
8 out of 10.
The four partners trained Field, but he chose one of his father’s partners as his primary mentor as he wanted to learn from someone with a different area of expertise—his father helps retirees, while his mentor focuses on families who need insurance coverage.
How he overcame his challenge
Field would follow up on every client lead, including prospects who’d fired several advisors and cancelled policies. “It’s easy to believe you can do better,” he says.
When taking on these clients, he wanted to provide the best service possible. But, he ran into problems. One client was eager and easy to do business with, at first. Then, a year into the relationship, the man told Field he’d lost his job. The client complained he could no longer afford his insurance policy. Although Field offered to reduce his insurance policy to help him save money, the man became difficult and demanded a refund for past premiums.
Field explained that wasn’t possible, but the client claimed Field had told him it was when he bought the policy.
So, Field sought advice from colleagues on how to handle the situation. They reminded him to take copious notes, and keep copies of all discussions and phone calls to prove he knew how, when and why the problems started.
When Field couldn’t resolve the client’s issue, he worked with his firm to transfer the client to another advisor. Field also conducted an exit interview.
“I learned some clients hear what they want to hear, even when you’ve been specific about your services and advice from the start,” he says. “If someone has worked with one advisor in the past and they just didn’t get along, that’s one thing. But if they’ve worked with a couple of advisors and not gotten along with them, you have to ask yourself, ‘What are the chances that both advisors weren’t able to provide good service?’ ”
New advisors should prioritize growing their books.
Not necessarily. They must first learn how to turn down unsuitable referrals. Following up on too many client leads can be overwhelming, especially at a time when you should be learning about the industry.
What he learned
Field now knows it can be “better to do less business at the beginning of your career, and not go after all referrals. If you’re not focused on defining your ideal client, you’ll invite trouble and distraction into your practice.”
He’s realized he prefers to work with younger, married couples with small children, since he’s part of that demographic and understands their needs.
One way to get suitable referrals is to tell new clients you appreciate recommendations and, after establishing relationships, detail your background, expertise and ideal client. If prompted, also explain the referral process. By doing this, you’ll build your book in a more organized way.
Katie Keir is content editor of Advisor Group.