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A career as a financial advisor or insurance agent can be incredibly rewarding. Financial advisors have flexibility, high earning potential, and can sleep at night knowing their work helps others become more financially literate and secure. Nonetheless, big rewards don't come easily. 

1. Develop your professional network

New agents and advisors can feel overwhelmed with the work of prospecting, calling and door-knocking leads, developing systems for following up with clients, and—of course—learning how to make a sale.

The field does offer flexibility, but be prepared to work long days—including nights and weekends—at the beginning of your career and to put extra time into the job in other ways, such as networking with other financial services professionals and at industry and social events. NAIFA events are a great place to make new connections with established professionals and others just starting out.

2. Find an agency that trains

Those new to the financial services industry or considering a career in financial services should take into account the training offered by the hiring agency or brokerage. Agencies with good onboarding and training practices for new agents often have lower turnover rates and finding a good training program can help you stay in the financial services industry beyond the first three years. 

Healthy competition for sales is a part of the industry, but new agents should be given opportunities to sit in and shadow more experienced agents. If your agency is not providing you with training opportunities to help you kickstart your career, look for an agency with a more nurturing environment for new hires and an established training process that is embedded into your onboarding. You should also stay away from company cultures that seem to lack cooperation between agents or advisors.

3. Build a book of business

As you build your book of business, develop systems for following up with your clients. Holiday cards, birthday cards, newsletters, and other marketing tools can keep your renewal and referral rates high.

Make sure your agency is encouraging you at the beginning to invest time into networking and gaining organic referrals, rather than encouraging you to purchase more leads.

4. Take advantage of certifications and

professional development courses

As you continue your career in financial services, make sure to invest time into professional development. NAIFA's Talent Development Center offers certification courses for becoming a Life & Annuity Certified Professional (LACP) and Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) as well as the Leadership in Life Institute (LILI), a highly-acclaimed personal and professional development course. In the long term, these invaluable resources will add to your credibility with clients as well as employers.

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