Life is 1% of how we plan.
Rest 99% life surprises all.
When I decided to take a full-time plunge and start on my own, I thought knowledge in personal finance will be sufficient to float and thrive. Over the years I realized true professional competency requires much more.
Like any other entrepreneur or a business owner, a personal finance expert must don many hats to do their jobs effectively. The first step to take up any profession is sound education. Second is to hone skills and gather maximum domain knowledge. Third is to stay conscious and updated.
When I started my journey in Financial services post my MBA, there were no special courses focusing on personal finance. I entered this space because of my interest. 18 years down the line there are plethora of courses available. So, freshers who are entering are better equipped and have us to learn from in terms of setting up practice.
With some newfound wisdom, reading glasses, salt and pepper hair which I guess comes naturally when you enter the fourth decade of your life, I can confidently say no education prepares you for real life. Real education and learnings start when you are on the job, when you are exposed real time and practice. You keep evolving as you move in the professional journey and at no point in life you can say that you know it all and you have perfected your domain expertise.
Let me walk you through, a typical day at work.
It starts with the opening bell of the stock exchange and often runs into evening hours. The operating hours may be more for freshers or entrepreneurs like me. My typical daily schedule includes the following:
- Newsbytes-Catching up with news on Twitter/IN shorts/WhatsApp/Telegram. I am not a big fan of Newspapers and Television. I catch up with my reading on Magzter and Kindle during the day
- Glancing through my Calendar-Making mental notes of Important/Priority/Not-So important tasks
- Syncing feeds to Portfolio Software, this helps in clients seeing real time data on the Mobile App. This is done every day for 365 days. If I do not do, I start getting barrage of WhatsApp messages. After all we make investments for long term but all of us like to look at our investment portfolio on daily basis 😉
- If it is Monday, then the focus is entirely on clients and operational issues. Having said that it does not mean that I do not tend to client queries on any other day. But I follow strict TAT which is shared with clients at the start of onboarding process.
Tuesdays are reserved for chatting up with Domain partners (Relationship Manager from Funds, Insurance Adviser, Chartered Accountant, Brand & Digital, and Software partners). This is my time of gathering market intelligence.
Liaising with so many different stakeholders has not been easy for a social recluse like me. Over the years I have stepped out of my comfort zone and learnt the ropes of talking to my vendors and partners, be in their good books as my ability to keep up TAT and promises to clients depend a lot on their promptness and servicing. This is especially important in smooth running of my practice.
WTF are reserved for zoom review calls with clients with the first call starting at 10:30am and last one ending at 6pm
Saturdays are reserved for learning programs, writing blog posts and making social posts for Client WhatsApp broadcast. I also spend time on pursuing my crafty hobbies like doodling, connecting with family and friends
- Servicing clients-As the book of business gets built over a period, our focus gradually begins to shift from acquiring new business to servicing current clients and customers. So post syncing feeds my actual day work starts with reviewing client portfolios, answering client queries, addressing outstanding issues before spending time on prospecting and research
- Prospecting – No matter in what phase of business growth you are in. To keep the sales funnel full this is one part of the job which no adviser can neglect. For a fresher this activity may take majority of the time during a working day. For established solopreneurs referrals may be enough. Strong digital presence also helps in getting new clients.
- Administrative chores – Although this often can fall under the category of servicing clients, I spend significant segment of my working day dealing with bureaucratic tasks such as updating MIS report, updating client records, scheduling Birthday messages, recordkeeping. This is usually scheduled on weekly basis on any of the two days.
- Continuing education – This inescapable element of vast field like personal finance can go considerably beyond the mere satisfaction of industry or credential educational requirements to include investment and product research. Many securities and insurance vehicles require specific training before the vendor will approve the advisor to sell them. I make it a point to learn at least one new thing in a week and attend virtual/physical seminars/learning events. Time consuming and requires considerable monetary resources.
- Three calls a day to clients keep the Doctor away-Before I end my day, I call up at least 3 clients for a general chat and exchange of wellbeing.
As I mentioned earlier no education prepares us for this, lot of learning comes on the job by hit and misses, learning from peers and industry seniors. The Bottom Line is,
My job as a Personal finance expert encompass a great deal. Much more than managing investment portfolios or closing sales. Prospecting, marketing, customer service, compliance, administration, and education is a part of my daily routine, and the success of my business depends on my ability to effectively integrate these things into my schedule which is always work in progress.