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Retirement Planning: Key Traits of Successful Financial Advisors

Guidance for financial advisors and individuals seeking their help.
Dividend Investments offers actionable investment analysis to beat the benchmarks and limit risk in global finance.
Dividend Investments offers actionable investment analysis to beat the benchmarks and limit risk in global finance.

For many people, the active management of investment finances often becomes an overwhelming challenge. Significant pitfalls can be encountered when mistakes are made, and this is the primary reason a financial advisor strives to provide the guidance that is needed to achieve long-term financial goals.

The term financial advisor is generally used to describe someone that helps with investment management, taxes, retirement strategy, and general financial planning. Of course, not all investment strategies are created equal, and there are many different types of financial professionals. Depending on the type of specialty that is needed, some financial professionals may not be sufficiently qualified to meet the requirements of every investment situation.

This is why it’s always a good idea conduct research beforehand so that it is possible to learn about what’s available and decide on the type of financial advisor that will be best-suited to deliver favorable results. Under ideal scenarios, a good advisor can help navigate the treacherous waters of economics and money management to offer support on the journey toward achieving financial freedom during the later stages of life.

What exactly is a financial advisor?

First and foremost, a financial advisor works as a coaching mentor to help explain when it’s best to make certain financial decisions. Most are experienced in analyzing what’s happening in the financial markets and translating that information into actionable strategies which positively impact individual financial circumstances. Some financial advisors will have more expertise in one area rather than another, so it’s critical to assess individual needs first and then pair those requirements with an advisor’s strengths and abilities.

For example, one advisor may specialize in stock recommendations, while others might create an entire financial plan that includes estate recommendations, tax strategies, and insurance planning. This is why financial advisors are often separated into two different categories: investment advisors and financial planners.

We sat down with financial advisor coach Stan Mann, founder of, to ask questions and learn about which strategies tend to work best for high net worth clients.

What are three important traits seen in successful financial advisors?

Stan Mann: From a marketing standpoint, three characteristics of successful financial advisors are:

1. They understand that effective marketing is crucial for their success. A financial advisor who is a competent marketer will be much more successful than an excellent financial advisor who is not a good marketer.

2. Successful financial advisors implement their knowledge. They go out in the field and put it into action. Knowledge alone is not power. Knowledge is potential power.

3. They have a marketing plan that they follow step-by-step. It is based upon the fundamentals of marketing: strategies and tactics. They adopt specific strategies and implement tactics to achieve their goals.

For instance, a webinar strategy would include tactics like:

  • Writing a direct mail letter or email inviting prospects to a presentation
  • Making a website to maximize conversions
  • Creating a presentation that employs powerful video marketing techniques
  • Placing an ad in their local paper

What challenges do financial advisors face in this year’s market environment?

Stan Mann: One big challenge financial advisors face in this year’s market environment is the flood of marketing messages. This makes it very difficult for an individual financial advisor to be heard. Therefore, a financial advisor needs to be unique and different from his competitors, so he stands out from the crowd. Another challenge is that people want to work with specialists, so advisors need to specialize in solving a particular problem for a specific group of people. They need to choose a niche.

What is one easy step financial advisors can take to attract more clients?

Stan Mann: Create a headline for your business that concisely tells who you help and how they benefit from your services. Some examples are: Helping families and business owners develop a sound financial strategy; Agent with New York Life offering personal and retirement protection; I help Ford Motor Company executives make the best use of the retirement options.

Is there anything else struggling financial advisors should know to achieve better success rates?

Stan Mann: Marketing alone will not sell big-ticket items that are provided by financial advisors. The goal of marketing is to get a sales interview. At that point, the advisor takes over and needs to convert the prospect and eventually enroll them in all their financial planning services, from investment management to estate planning.

Role of Financial planners

Financial planners tend to offer broader specialties, which can vary widely in scope. Some financial planners are able to create personalized financial plans for clients that cover everything from investments to household budgeting and estate planning.

As a result, these services are typically more comprehensive in nature. But they can also vary widely from one financial planner to another. Other financial planners may only be able to offer a limited number of services, so it is important to be clear about availability before entering into contractual agreements.

One formal distinction many find preferable is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation, which requires a bachelor’s degree (or higher) from an accredited college, extensive coursework confirmed through a board-registered educational program and successful completion of the CFP certification exam. CFP certification status can also be verified through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

Role of Investment advisers

In contrast, an investment advisor tends to be more specialized in terms of the advice and services that are made available. Investment advisors help clients to understand the true value of securities and construct strategies for developing an asset portfolio. Investment advisors can be a firm or an individual person, and they typically analyze the value of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other market instruments.

A good investment advisor can assess a client’s financial goals and give recommendations to buy, sell or hold certain assets depending on current market conditions. Some individual investment advisors hold certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), which signals a strong understanding of advanced investment analysis and real-world portfolio management skills.

When is financial advice needed?

Over the course of a person’s lifetime, financial goals will often evolve and change in ways that can be unpredictable. Events like a death in the family or major career change can negatively influence personal finances.

When big changes occur, it can be helpful to get an expert’s perspective and to get a second opinion before making any important financial decisions. Here are some examples of life situations which could benefit from expert advice from a finance professional:

1. Starting financial planning in early career

In the early years, it might feel as though the future is infinite and that there is no rush to begin financial planning. But the reality is that it is never too early to start building a financial strategy for the road ahead, and a financial advisor might be able to help avoid many of the pitfalls and mistakes commonly encountered by newbies.

Creating a personal budget, securing a mortgage, or preparing an investment portfolio can all be made easier with the help of a seasoned professional.

2. Getting married

Properly dealing with touchy money issues could turn out to make all the difference when developing the financial future with a new spouse. New household unions can create a completely different set of financial challenges, and it is always a good idea to gain advice from people that have encountered those challenges themselves.

3. Entering middle age

Entering the period of middle age can present its own set of challenges, and these are the years during which many must pay college tuition for their children. In addition to this, the period of middle age is also when many begin to look at new savings strategies for the retirement years.

4. Preparing for retirement

Reaching the pre-retirement years can be a transformational period in a person’s life. Most people don’t know how much money will be needed in order to achieve security after a career is finished. These are critical questions which can have dramatic ramifications if things are not planned correctly, and a financial adviser can help make preparations to achieve security in the years that follow.

5. Planning for later years

Once a person finishes a working career, it is time to start asking some critical questions. Will it be possible to continue living comfortably on savings? Are potential health expenses adequately covered? Will children, family, and loved ones be secure in the event of an untimely passing? Checking in with a financial advisor can help with the answers to these questions and keep things on track for a secure future. Retirement comes with its own unique set of “what-ifs” but proper financial planning can help to reduce the number of potential uncertainties.

The Bottom Line

No matter what stage of life a person has reached, a little support and guidance can always be valuable and there are many options available when it comes to selecting a financial advisor. Financial experts are able to assess complex economic situations and devise strategies to benefit from the natural ebb and flow of the market.

Partnering with an investment expert can provide the guidance needed to avoid the stress and uncertainties that are often encountered in various stages in life, and the best financial advisors are able to offer hands-on support and individually tailored strategies to help achieve a strong financial future.

For this article, we interviewed Stan Mann, Financial Advisor Coach and Founder of

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