In an era of open architecture, social media, and having options, even the job search is all about freedom. So how do you, as a financial planner, find an employer that won’t try to clip your wings?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer and you’ll definitely have to dig for information, but here are four simple questions every financial representative should ask before accepting a position.
1. If I leave the company, do my clients come with me?
Many companies will own your business, meaning that if you leave, you have to leave your clients behind and start over. That’s not just bad for you—it’s also bad for your clients. It’s you they know and trust, not your employer, and definitely not your replacement. You want to be able to tell your clients you’ll be with them for the long haul, even if you decide to relocate. Even if a company does not offer that kind of portability, you may be able to negotiate for it. If not, maybe you’ll decide to take the job anyway, but at least you’ll know what you’re getting into.
2. What is the company’s position on selling other companies’ products?
Hopefully are considering aligning with a company that has a lot to offer by way of products for your clients. But what if your client really needs a product that your company doesn’t offer? Can you develop your own brokerage with an outside company while maintaining a contract with your current carrier? If you can, that’s a definite advantage for you—your clients can do their own research online after all and they’ll know if there’s something you’re not telling them. Like everything else, it’s about relationships. You want to earn your clients’ trust, and that’s easier if you’re less constrained. Of course, some companies will insist that you sell their products exclusively and you can offer good service anyway—if you understand what you’re dealing with.
3. With regards to renewals, will I ever be 100% vested?
Insurance and investment companies make a lot of money on renewals and trails. All too often I see individuals take salaries and guarantees up front in lieu of higher renewals and trails later on in their career. That is very shortsighted and should be avoided if at all possible. The differences in ongoing renewal based income between companies is staggering. Do your homework and make sure you are making long term decisions that are not based on short term circumstances. Building a block of business that pays trail based income for years to come is one of the most valuable attributes in having a career as a financial planner.
4. Can I operate under a different business name (DBA)?
Some companies require you to operate solely under that company’s name and brand. Other companies allow their financial advisors to create their own name otherwise known as a DBA (doing business as).
For some this is not a big deal. For the more entrepreneurial minded financial advisor this is a game changer. Being able to operate and brand yourself according to your own specialties and areas of focus can be a huge advantage and wonderful way to separate yourself from your competitors.
On the other hand, you may like amount of national advertising that your company provides and the name recognition you benefit from as a new advisor. Either way, know your options and know whether or not you will have flexibility with this in the future.
The Right Questions Matter
Asking questions in your job interview not only provides you with essential information, but also demonstrates that you’re an astute business person. Most people don’t think to ask, but you’re not most people. The right employer is going to like that about you.