I failed, and man almighty it hurt.
Here is why I am now thankful those firms rejected me.
At the time I was bright-eyed and ready to make a difference. I wanted to change the way our generation manages money. When interviewing I remember being asked, “Why do you want to be a financial advisor?”
I responded confidently, “I want to help educate young adults about money.”
It is so clear now why they rejected me, but at the time I could not believe they didn’t hire me.
As the rejection letters rolled in, the stubborn Italian in me became absolutely furious. I felt highly qualified being that financial advisors aren’t even required to have a college degree, and instead simply need a passing score on two exams, the Series 7 and Series 63 to be able to sell and trade investments. I not only had a college degree, but I had a Finance degree from the 5th Best Undergraduate Finance program in the nation according to U.S. News.
Forbes also reported that financial advisors needed to be, “Go-getters… advisors have to attract clients. Part of the job entails meeting with prospective new clients and gathering assets. Those working in the industry need to hustle if they want to grow their businesses.”
Hustle was practically my middle name.
At the age of 18, before I even entered college, I drove half-way across the country for an internship working over 80 hours a week as a sales representative meeting with clients and when I graduated college I started my own business doing residential home security systems.
Being a Finance grad, a hustler, and very passionate about making an difference in people’s financial lives, I was confident I would immediately get hired with a big investment firm.
Why didn’t I get hired as a financial advisor?
After the initial shock of not getting hired wore off, I was able to step aside and understand what happened. Financial advisors are paid either as fee-based or fee-only. Which is confusing, but here’s what that means:
Fee- based means that the financial advisor recommends mutual funds or insurance and gets paid a commission. For example, most standard mutual funds have fees of 1-2%, which means, financial advisors get paid a percentage of what you are investing regardless of the performance of the investment.
With financial advising there is a conflict of interest. Are advisors recommending something because it is in your best interest, or because they are getting paid a higher commission? To avoid conflict of interest there are financial advisors that are fee-only, which means they are paid a set fee for a financial plan.
This comes with a price tag. A hefty one too, with the average fee for these advisors, according to New Means Financial Planning, being $1620-$3960.
Then it clicked. The managers who were interviewing me were looking for financial advisors who would go after high-net worth individuals and primarily sell investments and insurance.
That wasn’t even what I wanted.
I wanted to help educate everyday people, especially 20-30 somethings, who are just starting off. Someone paying off college loans isn’t going to spend almost $4,000 for a financial plan. That would be ludicrous! So with coffee in hand and my laptop, I just started typing.
I wanted to teach what I learned in business school in a way that non-Finance majors would understand. Instead of selling mutual funds (that are often overpriced and tend to underperform compared to index funds, but that’s another story), I wanted to focus on purely the educational aspect of money by explaining investing concepts like compound interest, the time value of money, diversification, or the tax benefits of 401(k) plans.
Finance is personal and I wanted to teach even more than investing.
Like, how do you manage paying off debt and also being a bridesmaid in three different weddings… in one year…? Gulp, those bridesmaids dresses aren’t cheap! Or how do you save up to go on a once in a lifetime trip backpacking through Asia? Or heck, even how to negotiate down the interest on your credit cards.
What would I be doing right now if I’d gotten the position with a big investment firm? Meeting with current millionaire’s in their fifties trying to get them to transfer their assets to me.
Now I get to meet with 20-30 somethings and educate them. I can show that if they invest $250 a month with 9% interest they can be a millionaire by retirement age. Knowledge is power and now I can teach about money with no conflict of interests, no outrageous fees, no biases, and just facts.
Thank God for rejection.