For other advisors, having a good mentor early on would have meant the world.

“As a woman who started in the advisory business in the late 1980s, I did not have a mentor and had very few peers,” said Lori Van Dusen, CEO of LVW Advisors in Pittsford, N.Y. “It was an extremely lonely journey, and I made some mistakes by not having sounding boards.”

Looking back, she said, she would counsel her younger self to look outside the industry, if necessary, to meet experienced women leaders who “could have given me some sage advice.”

Work-Life Balance
Still other financial pros insist that you can only serve clients well if you take good care of yourself.

“You cannot pour from an empty cup,” said Laraine Dickerson of Canvas Advisors in Englewood, Colo.

Dickerson clarified that she has a lot of responsibilities—her business, her family, and her community all take time and energy. “I used to put myself and my care last,” she related. Now, she said, she has learned she can only give her best effort to others when she’s first looked after of herself.

“Though it may sound simplistic, making sure I am getting enough sleep, not skipping meals, and taking enough downtime to relax are pivotal to my performance,” she said.

Stay Flexible
Of course, a financial advisor has to be ready for practically anything. “Financial planning is an ongoing process,” noted Mark Van Drunen at MAI Capital Management in Cleveland.

Still, he asserted, preparation is the key to unlocking possibilities. Even if a client’s situation or financial markets themselves change, it’s important to remain nimble within the overall plan. “The plan evolves,” he said. “But planning turns the uncertainty into opportunity.”

Reading Behavioral Signals
Some advisors shared the importance of reading behavioral signals in their clients. For instance, Erin Wood at Carson Group in Omaha, Neb., once had a prospective client who wanted to get on track for retirement. “She was contributing a huge amount of her salary to charitable donations,” Wood recalled, “and was saving nearly nothing.”

At the time, Wood was at a loss as to how to help. But if the woman came in today, she said, Wood would recognize that the perspective client was struggling with “money avoidance” issues and needed emotional as well as financial support. “I wish I could go back in time and help her,” she lamented.

These skills may take time to master. “The first few years in the profession are very difficult,” said Jamie Letcher of Summit Financial Advisors in Madison, Wisc. But he wishes he had known how rewarding it would turn out to be.

“If you work hard and persevere, your day will come,” he said.

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