I’m the type of person that has to believe in the “why” behind what I do every day. Before Simon Sinek spelled out the concept in his book Start with Why, I spent a lot of time contemplating the importance of my work and wondering if I was helping or hurting the world.
During my first job after college as a buyer for Bumble Bee Foods, I worried about mercury levels in fish depleting our oceans. Later, as a medical device marketing rep, I lost sleep over efficacy concerns in the devices I was selling. I actually worked for the Department of Defense for almost a year before I walked away from an interesting and high-paying job. It turns out the Department of Defense is also the Department of Offense, and I didn’t want to spend my days buying parts for weapons.
I enjoyed many job functions I tried, including sales and working as an advisor. But marketing is my passion, it’s what I am good at, what I love to do, and what I read about on the weekends for fun. Within my role as a marketer, I could probably work in different industries, but I have spent a lot of time thinking through which products I want to help push. Today, as a marketing consultant for independent financial advisors, I’ve never felt so good about my clients and the value I help them deliver.
I grew up in the financial services industry. My dad has worked in the industry for over 37 years and became an independent advisor as soon as the idea came out in 1981. He has been affiliated with LPL Financial since we called it “Linsco Private Ledger” and is currently their 7th longest tenured advisor. His brother and best friend are also both advisors in the same OSJ, so family gatherings include a lot of investment talk.
As soon as I got my driver’s license at 16, I started working for my dad’s firm after school. Once I got my MBA, I took over his marketing department and worked as an advisor myself. Today I still support his team, but I also work with other advisors to run their marketing. Collaborating with this group of professionals is deeply rewarding and limitlessly fascinating. Here are a few reasons why I work with financial advisors:
1. They’re Entrepreneurs
Many of the advisors I work with have similar personalities. They’re intelligent, analytical, extroverted, and driven. Could you think of a more interesting group of folks to work with every day? At their core, advisors are entrepreneurs who create and run businesses. This breeds passion, enthusiasm, and fresh ideas to consistently grow. As an entrepreneur myself, I admire and enjoy learning from the advisors with whom I collaborate and work alongside.
2. They Do Important Work
I get frustrated when I hear people talk about advisors as dishonest or greedy. It’s unfair that large financial institutions and Wall Street brokers have given everyday advisors a bad rap. Even my personal hero, Tony Robbins, has been bad-mouthing advisors recently, apparently not understanding the difference between brokers and independent advisors.
The advisors I work with spend long hours supporting their clients and work even harder to make sure their advice is honest and unbiased. Independent advisors are educators that help people understand the options available to them in order to make confident decisions. They’re integral in the process of saving for retirement, creating financial security, planning for their children’s education, and giving to the causes they care about. Our communities and futures are better as a result.
3. They’re Members of Our Communities
Growing up with the last name Dobransky and a father who is 6’7” tall, I ran into a lot of people who knew my dad in our town. I can’t recall the number of times someone told me what a great guy my dad is, or how he had helped them, or how much they appreciate his work.
Even when times were tight and markets were down, my dad’s firm would always pay for the uniforms and team events for my brother’s Little League team. I also remember many days when I saw my dad don his black suit and go to a funeral for a client, a neighbor, or a community member.
Advisors are important members of our communities, helping us save for the future and supporting our friends and neighbors. Most advisors I know give back to their communities, whether raising money for local charities or educating community members on financial topics. More than any other financial service or professional group, I see advisors giving back to their communities.
4. They’re Good People
My first job out of graduate school was in the fast-paced world of medical device sales, touring the country and attending swanky conferences with no FINRA limits on non-cash compensation. On more than one occasion, I saw a sales rep slip off their wedding band as they entered a conference cocktail party, which was disheartening, to say the least.
Despite the reputation that our industry has for greed and corruption, the advisors I know are the most honest, respectable people you will meet. I love attending broker-dealer conferences and seeing the same advisors year after year with their spouses and children. We’re part of a lovely group of people who work hard and do the right thing for their clients and their families.
5. They Help People
During my childhood, I was alarmed a few times when we came home to tearful messages on our answering machine from a client whose spouse had died. At first, I worried that my dad’s clients were dying off and there would soon be none left. But over the years, I noticed that he was often the first person they called when tragedy struck.
The role advisors play in client lives is much more than financial. People typically list doctors, lawyers, and accountants in the same category as financial advisors in terms of the role they play in clients’ lives. But could you imagine calling your doctor or lawyer to lean on during a divorce or death? Client meetings can feel like therapy sessions at times. Some advisors I know are even trained in crisis counseling.
The advisors I know go above and beyond to provide support to their clients. Last week, I was on the phone with an advisor I work with who was driving 100 miles home after helping an elderly client move into a retirement home. Another advisor was running late to lunch because he had been helping his client shop for a new car. My dad is always accompanying his elderly clients to make big decisions or just move furniture. To have a trusted person to call during times of need is a meaningful and important benefit.
If you are an advisor, I want to thank you for all that you do to serve your clients and your community. I am happy to support you in providing valuable and significant work. While you work hard and shoulder tremendous responsibility, the skeptics question your integrity and compliance never cuts you a break. It may not be easy, but the work you do sure is important. Thanks to all of the hardworking independent advisors out there!
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Claire Akin runs Indigo Marketing Agency, a full-service marketing firm serving financial advisors. Claire is a former Investment Advisor Representative who holds her MBA in Marketing from the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego as well as a BA in Economics from UC Davis. It’s her goal to help advisors leverage technology to grow their businesses.