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Financial Advisor

Richard M. Kenton

Tell us about your work---what do you do? Provide wealth management services for high net worth individuals and their families. Services include portfolio management , trust services , banking , and estate planning . What skills are needed? I have thought for a long time that a successful financial advisor is someone who has the listening and emphatic skills of a priest, the organizational and motivational skills of a high school football coach, and the analytical and communication skills of a good college professor. If you have those traits, you'll do well. What was your major? Political science . How did you get started in your career? I started in insurance sales, but I found it too limiting; I wanted a career that was challenging and provides a good income with lots of independence . Also, I wanted to work with smart, motivated people who had these same goals. Finally, I wanted to work at a world-class organization. I have been lucky enough to achieve this at Merrill Lynch . What experience do you need in this job? Any job that includes direct involvement with the public . I would encourage young people to have experience in writing, public speaking , good computer skills and anything that involves thinking and analysis . My experiences in college as a park ranger and an intern in the U.S. Senate have been the most useful in my career at Merrill Lynch. Describe your "typical" workday: Arrive at the office around 7 a.m., and review updates on the financial markets and the companies I am currently following. Then I call clients in Europe, then here in the U.S., usually reviewing their holdings and trying to implement an action point for them. Then I meet with my team and assign tasks for the day. I try to personally meet with one client each day, or conduct an extensive telephone conference call with a client. My role is to help clients manage change: Whether it is in the financial markets, taxation and regulation, or personal and family change. Finally, I organize the next working day's agenda. I tend to work later on Mondays and Tuesdays, and leave a little earlier for the rest of the week. If you're looking for a 9 to 5 job, this isn't it. What is the hardest aspect of your job? Managing a client's expectations. While people know the markets will fluctuate, they seem to think their holdings are exempt from this. Sometimes I think my biggest challenge is to protect clients from their emotions. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? I have been fortunate enough to develop close, personal relationships with many of my clients. I have helped them deal the retirement, the death of a spouse, college graduation, business success and failure. What's really rewarding in this business isn't making money for my clients, but giving them peace of mind. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field? Other than the suggestions recommended above, I would say it is important to develop self-discipline, especially in goal setting and time management. To be successful at Merrill Lynch, you have to be willing to work long, hard hours, especially early in your career. While a strong academic background is essential, a Financial Advisor has to have the ability to analyze and then act. I have seen too many talented people fail in this business simply because they can't be decisive. Finally, an advisor has to be able to communicate with their clients and co-workers.
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