- What is your current job title and how did you decide on this career choice?
“My name is Jason Richart and I am a Financial Advisor with LPL Financial. I’ve been in the industry going on 11 years. I’ve always had a passing attraction to the financial services industry, however, my career found me more than I found it. I did not have the vision in college that I was going to be helping people with their retirement planning. I actually decided to go into politics and public relations as I felt I was more suited to that field. I got my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in Communications. Little did I know that a Communications degree would actually help in my current field.”
After college, I worked in politics and public relations but found I was more attracted to helping people directly on a personal level. After having a few job experiences, I was recruited into the financial services industry. As I said, this career field is something I always had a cursory interest in, but I didn’t believe I had the qualifications or ability. I thought I needed a Finance degree or an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) to be in this profession. I also was fearful of having to be a “salesperson”, but I now realize that most careers have a component of “sales”. So I eventually succumbed to the recruitment attempts and jumped feet first into the job. When starting out in the industry it is very much feast or famine, but if you survive it is extremely rewarding.”
2. What types of qualities are important for this career choice? (What do employers look for? Tips to help them get hired)
“The qualities that make a great financial advisor are someone who truly cares about helping others, enjoys people and has the propensity to be analytical. It helps if you enjoy being an analyzer and a good listener, are part educator and are confident in your abilities. An employer would look at your activities in and out of school, participation in clubs, teams, etc. I would want someone that has experience interacting with the public and shows maturity when dealing with people. Also, I would want someone who is analytical and smart, so having good grades is a plus.”
- What is a typical day or week in your position like? What exactly do you do?
“We tend to have a long-term vision and timeframe when it comes to our clients’ investments. However, our typical day and/or week can be influenced by activity and changes in the current markets and economy. Communication with clients and account reviews take up a big part of the day regardless of what is going on in the world. This requires spending a lot of time on the phone and in front of a computer. Then there are the face-to-face meetings with clients in the office. I also read a lot of business news and economic news during the week. If there are big swings in the markets or with specific stocks, clients want to know why things are happening and want me to call them. After looking at the client’s accounts, we may need to make investment decisions and trades in the accounts, which is all done on the computer.”
- What areas of study would you suggest for kids interested in your field? What path would you suggest?
“There are financial professionals that have all kinds of backgrounds and previous careers. However, if this is what you want to do for a living, getting a business/finance degree would be a good thing. If you want to work on Wall Street, an MBA from an Ivy League school is preferable. Some in my profession, though, don’t even have a college degree and they are very talented and successful.”
- What is one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in your field?
“The one piece of advice I would give someone for any career is to really understand the profession and narrow your focus to what attracted you to that field. I find a lot of people believe a career is one thing, but after a job shadow they find out it’s very different. They may see only one component of the job and block out other unappealing aspects. As an example, many see the analytical component of being a financial advisor, but the personal interaction with clients is a much bigger component and is key to growing your business in the early years. There is a lot of unglamorous work that needs to be done to build a practice.”
6.What is one myth buster you would like to share about your field?
“A myth that needs to be dispelled about financial services is that it is a guaranteed financial windfall. Success is not guaranteed and it is hard work. A very high percentage of financial advisors coming into the industry fail. In fact, I’ve read 80% to 90% of new hires don’t survive.”
- Did you take a linear path to get here? If not, what were some pivotal points that changed your direction? (setbacks, sacrifices, advice you received, life changes, realizations)
“I had several different jobs after college that you would assume didn’t help build my resume to be a financial advisor; however, looking back I can see that I take specific skills learned from each of those jobs and apply them to my current job as a financial advisor. For me personally, I did not have the maturity to do my current job when I graduated college. I did not have enough life experience and empathy to understand savings, debt, long-term planning, risk, reward, the importance of a lifetime of savings. So sometimes your path is straightforward, but other times it might be a little more roundabout and life experience is needed. If you find the career that you love right from the beginning of your working life, good for you, but I think you’re in the minority. I think having a few different jobs allows for you to learn what you truly want to do as a career and teaches you about yourself.”
- What personal qualities have helped you succeed in your career?
“I think having the ability to take complex processes and structures and make them easily understandable to those not in the industry is very important. Also, early on you have to have some grit to be able to grind every day to build a business.”
9. What do you most enjoy about your career?
“Easy question!! First and foremost, I love helping others. In addition, I love being my own boss and having the freedom that allows.”
10. What kind of work experience as a student would be the most beneficial for this career?
“I would refer back to my answer to Question #4. Any experience that’s going to give you maturity and the ability to work with people’s life savings and not lose it will be valuable.”
11. What education or training is required, if any, to reach your position?
“You need to be licensed to sell securities, mutual funds, and insurance products. To obtain these licenses you must take a test administered by the state where you live and the FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority). Technically, you do not need a college education to be a financial advisor. “
12. If you weren’t in this career field, what other career would you be interested in? and why?
“To be honest I would go to work for a government agency that provides a good salary, a great pension, excellent benefits and lets me go home at the end of the day and not think about my practice.”