So, you think you want to be a financial advisor?
Becoming a financial advisor has requirements you will need to meet before your first day and throughout your career.
Here at Consolidated Planning, we help our advisors become process-based advisors, putting strategies before products. We believe that by focusing on helping others, you can help yourself grow a successful practice.
Before you get your mind set on this career path, we want to help you understand what may be required prior to your first day, and every day thereafter, from licensing to determining a working target market, and delivering results. Willingness to start and complete these tasks will be vital to launching your career. As you read through this article, take an audit of what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do. This should help you as you ultimately decide to move forward in a financial advising career, or not.
Before Your First Day As A Financial Advisor
Yes, you read that headline right, before your first day as a financial advisor. Being a financial advisor isn’t just your job.
This is your career. You don’t show up on day one and ease your way into it.
Here is what you need to do.
#1 PASS TWO EXAMS
First up is taking two exams, the Life & Health Insurance exam and the Securities Industries Exam (SIE) exam. While the test and requirements vary from State to State, these exams are standard in the financial industry so starting here is a must.
Taking these exams does not require any firm association which is part of the reason you should get these off the table before you start with your chosen firm.
Life & Health Exam: A benefit most everyone elects for, securing this licensing, allows you to sell life and health insurance in your designated state. Areas of knowledge include:
- Life and health insurance industry
- Tax issues
- Disability income, and more.
Securities Industry Essentials® (SIE) Exam: Securing this license helps you demonstrate the fundamentals of the industry. Areas of knowledge include:
- Types of products and their risks
- Structure of the securities industry markets
- Regulatory agencies
- Prohibited practices
If you struggle to pass these exams, it may be a good sign that this career path isn’t meant for you.
Speaking of exams, they don’t stop there.
#2 STUDY FOR FUTURE EXAMS
In addition to passing your Life and Health exam and your SIE exam, you will need to secure both the Series 66 exam and the Series 7 exam. Usually you’ve started studying for one of these exams before your first day.
Since a day in the life of a financial advisor can be a hectic one, you will ideally start studying for your next phase of exams as soon as possible.
It is recommended to study somewhere between 45-60 hours for these exams. Woah.
So, in addition to studying for the Series 66 and 7 exams, actively building your practice with us, and still maintaining any obligations at home, you’ll need to actively carve out time to best prepare for these.
#3 INITIAL AND FUTURE MARKETS IN MIND
To help yourself hit the ground running, it’s a good idea to have your initial markets sized up with an eye on your future markets. Rather than spending your first six months floundering as a financial advisor, you can take control.
Taking control means understanding who your initial markets are for your first six months of activity. These markets include:
- Your Natural Market is Your Initial Market: Your natural market is just that, natural. These are people you already know – this can be your friends and family, for example. While some people feel hesitation in this area, leveraging this market can help you build confidence in sharing your firm’s processes, especially in those first six months as you’re navigating the learning curve of the industry.
If you believe in your chosen firm’s planning processes, you can feel confident in sharing all the ways they can benefit from working with you.
Advisors at Consolidated Planning fully believe in the power of our planning philosophy that prioritizes people before products.
- One or More Target Markets are your Future Markets: Your target market(s) will be your bread and butter, your niche. Here you will successfully demonstrate both a passion and a viable market to work with as a financial advisor, helping you to build a successful practice.
If you already have a target market in mind, that’s great. If not, that’s ok.
A target or niche market is a specific group of individuals closely aligned by their occupation, recreation, or interests, so think of a few areas that make sense for you here.
Keep in mind that these markets may very well change. And that’s ok.
There is a lot to learn as a new financial advisor. Putting in the leg work before your first day will make everything after day one easier.
After Your First Day As A Financial Advisor
Once you’ve made it to your first day as a financial advisor, it’s time to make good on what was discussed before day one.
#1 SCHEDULE AND TAKE YOUR EXAMS
The next exams you’ll schedule are either the Series 65 or Series 66 and the Series 7 exam. These will be expected to be completed in your first six months at Consolidated Planning.
- Series 65 or 66 Exam: Either the Series 65 or Series 66 exams will allow you to conduct advisory business (investment advice to clients), and charge financial fees.
- Series 7 Exam: Within your first six months at Consolidated Planning, you should expect to schedule and take your Series 7 exam to trade stocks and bonds. While most will want to take the Series 7, some may choose to opt out of this exam if they plan to conduct RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) only business.
#2 WORKING WITHIN YOUR MARKETS
- Contacting your natural market: In your first 30 days at Consolidated Planning, you’ll begin contacting your natural market. Through your conversations with your natural market, you will begin learning the best ways to speak about the work you’re doing and how it can benefit them.
- Establishing your target market: Before your first day you had a few possible target markets in mind. These markets could be an area of interest, expertise, a network you already are part of or an industry you’re switching from. Establishing the right target market(s) is an essential next step in having a successful career at any firm.
Advisors at Consolidated Planning work with the Marketing Administration and Practice Management Solutions (MAPS) team and the Weylman Center to develop and cultivate their most suitable target market(s). During this process, you will start with who do you know – do you know 10 people connected to this market?
Through trial and error in some cases, the goal is to end up with 1-2 solid markets by the end of your first year. This market will help differentiate you in your career, leading to better quality leads and better quality clients for your practice.
#3 ACTIVITY-DRIVEN RESULTS
As a financial advisor, your activity level will help determine your results in building your practice from scratch. A high activity level will not be found while sitting behind a desk.
Attending networking events, volunteering, hosting meetings and events, and doing your work in public will help you drive results.
Advisors at Consolidated Planning will hone in on two areas related to activity.
- 10 CONTACTS PER WEEK
Before someone is a prospect, they are a contact. The goal of these 10 contacts is to gather 1,500 contacts over your first three years. These contacts are those who know who you are and know what you do.
Contacts, not clients, can come from the following areas:
- Your natural market
- Your target market
- Becoming great at being introduced to others
- SETTING OPENING CONVERSATIONS
Here you will simply get into a rhythm of setting four opening conversations per week. An opening conversation is your chance to get to know a contact better and begin sharing the planning philosophy at Consolidated Planning.
The idea behind these numbers is the 10-4-2 process at Consolidated Planning. For every 10 names you collect each week, 4 of those will result in meetings, and 2 will move forward with you.
These activity-driven results are two areas you can control as a financial advisor.
#5 MASTER OUR PLANNING PROCESS
The planning philosophy at Consolidated Planning is multifaceted and focuses on putting your clients before all else. Mastering our planning process does not mean mastering the nuances of planning for clients of all shapes and sizes but how the process works.
Here’s how the process should work:
- Client engagement
- Client experience
- Follow through
- How to solve client problems
- Being consultative not transactional
During your first 12 months, you will be part of our Take Off program to help solve the learning process. This compound learning has a beginning and an end. And at the end of this time, you will know our planning process and how that helps you run a successful client meeting, therefore a successful practice.
What Happens If You Fail To Meet These Requirements?
In a perfect world, everything goes to plan and your first year as a financial advisor will go smoothly. However, this isn’t a perfect world and you have a full life outside of your career.
While we believe a high level of support can help avoid failure, if your first year does happen to go off course, Consolidated Planning can help in a few ways.
- Big picture: How can we reset goals to be more achievable?
- Alignment: Can you align to your custom playbook?
- Tactical: Where are you having issues? Is it trouble with the right target market? Too much time on your hands?
It will always behoove you to be open and honest with your responses here.
Your first year as a financial advisor is arguably more important than your fifth year. Together we will problem-solve and help coach you back to where you want to be.
Is A Career In Financial Advising Right For You?
The requirements before your first day and every day thereafter aren’t meant to weigh you down but rather help you have the least amount of resistance as a financial advisor.
Once you get started in your financial advising career, you will quickly find yourself struggling to make time for anything that isn’t revenue-generating, like studying for exams. So, let’s get ahead of that.
You might be wondering if the reward of a career in financial advising is worth the risk and only you can determine that for yourself. What can help you here is ensuring the firm you choose is right for you and your values.
If you’re excited about the idea of building your financial advising practice, reach out to our recruiters to discuss how Consolidated Planning is different from other firms.
2023-152418 Exp. 3/2025
- 5 Best Practices For Achieving And Maintaining A Flexible Work Schedule As A Female Financial Advisor
- 3 Misconceptions When It Comes To Switching Firms As A Financial Advisor
- The How And Why Of Your Natural Market Inventory
- Base Salary vs. Unlimited Income Potential: What It Means For Your Career
- Building A Referral-Based Practice: What You Need To Know
- Top Advantages Of Moving Your Practice To Consolidated Planning
- Understanding A Commission-Based Structure
- Why A Career In The Military Makes For A Successful Financial Advising Career