Industry veterans agree education and networking will help young advisors succeed in boosting their careers.

“Every advisor, new or experienced, needs to stay informed by reading current material and industry news, and by speaking with knowledgeable industry representatives constantly,” says Gina Scola, CFP, CIM and managing director for Stonegate Private Counsel in Toronto.

She adds, “They need to avoid falling into the trap of using cliché phrases and practices such as ‘buy low, sell high.’ These phrases are meaningless and it’s crucial to offer clients up-to-date and constructive advice.”

Advisors do so by figuring out their specific business goals and what area of the industry they’re passionate about. Whether it’s working with clients’ life goals, investments or estate plans for example, they can set out to establish their reputation and expertise in their chosen field.

In particular, “Female advisors are doing themselves a disservice if they perpetuate the stereotypes of women. Maintain your reputation in this business and invest in yourself and in your skill set,” she adds.

Network to find a mentor

One way to do that is to spend time networking. By connecting with key players in the industry, young advisors have the opportunity to learn from other advisors, as well as boost their profiles.

“Having a sounding board for your concerns and fears is crucial,” says Laurianne Osmak, CLU, CHS and lifestyle and retirement consultant at Rudichuk Agencies in Wakaw, Sask.

Taking the time to network requires excellent time-management skills, says Donna Worthington, CFP and EPC at Investment Planning Counsel in Edmonton. Your clients are essential, but “you have to make the time to meet new people and learn during the years it takes to build your business.”

She also suggests meeting and collaborating with professionals such as mortgage brokers, lawyers and accountants.

Worthington suggests being discerning about the resources you use. “If one group or resource isn’t working for you, then be assertive and find alternatives.”

It’s also crucial to find a mentor who understands your goals and concerns. Anne Hammond, financial advisor for Rogers Group Financial in Vancouver, found hers within the firm. If that’s not viable, she suggests joining local groups for professional women or seeking out a current or retired financial advisor or professional you admire.

Take her for lunch and find out if she’s willing to consider that kind of role.

“Someone needs to start a large-scale mentoring group in Canada,” says Worthington; an industry association could connect more advisors and provide more resources than individual firms. “[But] it all comes down to industry priorities. Most dealers and groups are more concerned with regulation and compliance right now,” she says.

Worthington walks the talk: she mentors young advisors. She helps them meet other advisors, decide how many clients and appointments they need to be profitable, and refine their investment and planning processes.

Specialize to gain better clients

Once advisors are confident in the basics of their businesses, they should consider specializing in the clients they’ve served best.

In addition, women need to differentiate themselves by taking steps like pursuing clients in underserved markets or hosting a seminar, says Hammond. In her view, “successful advisors are those who are willing to take on roles others may find intimidating or difficult.”

Teresa Black Hughes, a financial advisor for Rogers Group Financial in Vancouver, suggests telling prospects about what kind of practice you run, what your credentials are and how detailed your plans are. Focusing on your strengths can garner great referrals for like-minded clients.

These activities will grow your business. But when you have to turn down clients or networking events because you’re overextended, consider hiring an assistant. “It can be hard to let go,” says Worthington, “but getting good help with the right skill set can free you up to focus on your specialty and on your clients.”