Why I Quit Being A Financial Advisor

Why I Quit Being A Financial Advisor

Why I Quit Being A Financial Advisor Sitting nervously in a decidedly uncomfortable chair stationed outside my boss’s office, my heart pounded wildly. I rehearsed my impending conversation in my head, trying to muster the courage to speak my truth. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, I received the summons to enter.

Walking into his office, I took a seat to deliver the news—I was resigning from my position as a financial planning associate. However, I wasn’t departing for a better opportunity within the realm of financial planning. I was leaving my role at the financial advisory firm to reassess my career. I had lost touch with my work; it didn’t align with my strengths or my broader aspirations. I felt overwhelmed by a never-ending stream of disjointed tasks and projects.

Like any major decision, doubts loomed, and I questioned the wisdom of my choice. My boss, too, harbored doubts. He couldn’t comprehend why I would abandon the “comfort and security” of a financial planning role without a backup plan.

Why I Quit Being A Financial Advisor
Why I Quit Being A Financial Advisor

I felt like I had let him down. I wasn’t departing a sprawling corporate conglomerate with hundreds of employees; I was leaving his boutique financial advisory practice—a place he had built with pride, envisioning a lasting legacy.

A year has passed since my resignation, and I’ve come to realize that my experience was not unique. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, voluntary turnover in the financial services sector reached a decade-high of nearly 20% by the end of 2021. While numerous factors contribute to this high turnover rate, a closer look at the data reveals one disruptive factor—millennials. Another LinkedIn study disclosed that analysts and associates who left their positions in 2015, on average, held those roles for only 17 months. Clearly, the modern workforce, particularly millennials, is reshaping the landscape of the financial services industry. So, what does this mean for financial advisors, and how can they safeguard their firms from this costly scenario?

You’re in the right place. As a millennial, I’m sharing my candid and transparent list of reasons why I walked away from my job as a financial planning associate.

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1. Lack of Visibility

Why I Quit Being A Financial Advisor
Why I Quit Being A Financial Advisor

One morning, I arrived at the office to find a towering pile of files on my desk, accompanied by a terse note that read, “Do you have time for this? I need it by this afternoon, at the latest!” The truth was, I didn’t have time to spare. I already had five pending accounts to open, client meetings to prepare for, and trades to execute before the deadline.

I approached my colleague, seeking clarity on the urgency of the task. Unfortunately, she interpreted my inquiry as questioning the importance of her work. Soon after, my boss called me aside, requesting that I list everything on my plate to better understand my workload.

At first, I was frustrated with my colleague for involving our boss. However, upon reflection, I realized that neither my colleague nor my boss had visibility into the actual demands of my day. They only saw my calendar appointments, not the mounting “shadow work” or the preparation required for meetings.

This lack of visibility hindered effective delegation and workload management, leaving team members buried under a heap of uncoordinated tasks, unable to focus on their strengths.

2. Scarcity of Opportunities to Make an Impact

Why I Quit Being A Financial Advisor
Why I Quit Being A Financial Advisor

For advisors, the reluctance to delegate tasks often arises not from a lack of trust in the team’s capabilities but from the absence of proper processes and documentation to empower team members.

In my firm, my colleagues and I were starved of insight into how our tasks contributed to the broader strategy and success of the business or clients. We were routinely assigned one-off tasks without context, leading to a sense of detachment and a lack of ownership over our roles.

I once suggested a marketing strategy improvement after identifying our outdated approach. Regrettably, my boss rejected the idea, not because it lacked merit but due to his resistance to change. This dismissal of a solution I believed could substantially benefit the firm’s growth prompted me to question my role.

Millennials seek more than button-pushing; they yearn to make a meaningful impact in their workplaces. They are quick to leave environments where their suggestions for improvement are unwelcome.

3. Shortage of Employee Engagement & Collaboration

Why I Quit Being A Financial Advisor
Why I Quit Being A Financial Advisor

Employee engagement profoundly affects a company’s bottom line and hinges on organizational culture. While birthday celebrations are nice, building a highly engaged workplace necessitates a more comprehensive strategy, incorporating measurable metrics and consistent attention.

Six months into my role, my semi-annual performance review loomed, a crucial moment for feedback and coaching. Yet, minutes before the meeting, my boss postponed it for another three months. As time passed, concerns about my work experience were neglected. My boss, engrossed in client work, was unaware of the impending issues stemming from a lack of organizational culture. Without consistent feedback, I struggled to gauge my contributions to the firm.

The path forward entails developing systems that foster productive conversations and nurture workplace relationships. Digital platforms are available to managers, providing tools to track and enhance core metrics, including engagement, alignment, and leadership.

4. (Bad) Technology Fatigue

Technology is designed to enhance efficiency and productivity, but the wrong or outdated tech stack can have the opposite effect. My firm rarely conducted technology audits, and our tech stack did not prioritize the happiness and productivity of support and back-office staff.

I found myself juggling numerous incompatible software tools, leading to overwhelm and burnout. A single source of truth and streamlined task prioritization were all I sought.

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Conclusion : Why I Quit Being A Financial Advisor

While my initial attraction to financial services stemmed from the profound impact of financial planning and investments on people’s lives, the absence of employee engagement, visibility, the ability to make an impact, and modern technology soured my experience.

Being a financial advisor is demanding; it involves managing a team and an entire business. Establishing the right processes, team structure, and technology is critical to nurturing a successful team that feels empowered to make a difference and contribute to growth. As the saying goes, “A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” So, make sure you keep them.

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