Darkest Before Dawn: Saga of a Struggling Advisor

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Bigballin's picture
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Darkest Before Dawn

Background info about me:
I’m in my mid 20’s and I work at a regional bank as a Financial Advisor. I am going through a divorce. That pain is multiplied by the fact that I have young children. I consider myself a super dad-type. I changed diapers; I read to them, I played with them from when I got home until I put them in bed. Now, my role is changing. I don’t get to spend as much time with them as I’d like, so I am focusing on my career during that time.

I am thankful to have a salary + (discounted) commission position. This is only for the first ~2 years to help me get off the ground. My supervisor has encouraged me to take it slow, learn the ropes, and don’t get any black eyes that would haunt me throughout my career (arbitration, written complaints, etc.). I’ve been patient for the ~6 months I’ve been ‘in production’. Now, I’m getting more comfortable with everything and I’m ready to start putting more of myself in.

My supervisor discourages cold-calling. I never got a definitive ‘NO’ on the subject. I have cold-called in the past and I know it works. Hell, I nearly inked a $2+ mil account with no experience/teaching, no script, and no real idea of what the hell I was doing. (btw a death in the prospects family put it on hold, and I considered a different career path, and never closed acct). I know if I can keep my nose clean and prove that I’m not going to do something stupid, my supervisor will give me the green light. I think I could get it now, if I pushed the issue.

Anyway, this will be my personal/professional journal. I will post when I open accts, get blown off by prospects, and/or I feel like I got kicked in the junk by my soon-to-be former spouse.

If you want to follow, then please do. If you don’t, then don’t. Commentary/feedback would be appreciated. I’m open to constructive criticism in my personal and professional life.

AUM: ~$2 Mil
Revenue YTD: ~5-10k ( I will keep some things vague, for obvious reasons)

Short term goal: Get through Xmas and coordinate everything the best I can with my kids and my parents, etc. It’s a logistical nightmare. I miss my younger days when Xmas was a time of peace and wonder. My work year is pretty much done. After Xmas, I’m taking a vacation until Jan 3rd.

Intermediate term goal: Get prepared and motivated to kick some *** next year. I have two rollovers (one is 10-15k the other is ~100k) that are in the process and they should be producible in January. I had a meeting with a prospect that needs a full financial plan (long term care, retirement needs, etc). That potential rollover is ~800k-1mil. Needless to say, for a guy with ~2mil in AUM, getting that account would be a nice springboard for the new year. He isn’t retiring until ~April, but I need to keep my foot in the door and position myself to collect that rollover.

Current Weight: 225. No bueno. At my height/build, I need to be in the ballpark of 195-205. I’m running a little bit. I need to hit the weights; my arms are shrinking as fast as my gut balloons. It’s hard to keep a decent diet when I’m sleeping on a mattress an hour drive (one-way) from work. I don’t have a fridge, washing machine, etc. I got a mattress, my clothes, my laptop (with no internet), and my iPad. It’s been fast food only for 2 weeks.

Like I said, this sort of thread is NOT for everybody. In fact, I can’t imagine anyone else wanting to read it. But, I need to vent… Hopefully over the course of a few years, this thread will evolve from a sad lonely tale into one that will inspire other advisors. Remember, it’s always darkest just before dawn.

newrep3200's picture
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Joined: 2011-09-17

Man I ahve been in your shoes and can feel your pain through your post. I will say that it seems you are handling it much better than I did, GREAT JOB!!!  I know this sounds  cliché (sp) but the ultimate goal is your children and nothing else. If you work hard and prove you are a fit parent that can provide you will be fine.  I lost sight of what was important and my life began to spiral out of control, until one moment of clarity(sp). My son looked at me one day and said I miss my daddy even though I was right in front of him. The point I am trying to make is YOU need to be right first before anything else. As for your manager, he may have had a bad experience with someone cold calling and is against it. I would sit with him with scripts you want to use and get his in put so he knows you are not saying anything stupid on the phone, not saying you would. Keep your head up man it will get better pm in the future if you like.  

Bigballin's picture
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Joined: 2011-09-06

Well the past two days have been extremely rough. I toldmy dad what was going on. Not aneasy conversation. This is my last working day of the year. I'm watching the clock but I'm not sure why. Talked to (ex)wife, can't see the kids tonight Bc I saw them last night (took them to see The chipmunks movie). Really struggling today. No phone calls, no walk ins and no referrals. Just did some work on CFP class.

Yesterday I had ~15k that an existing client brought in. No instructions for the money. I suppose I will call them after the first of the year and see. I have about $1,500 revenue pending. I can't control when it hits, but it'd be nice if it did in January as opposed to December. I'm mapping out revenue/AUM goals. This amount isn't going to effect it much, but it's something that I'll follow.

I have called my "big" prospect several times. No answer. I'm probably going to try to call him while I'm on vacation just to keep that conversation warm. That's the biggest fish I have. I got a tip that I may get a nice referral after the first of the year. Professionally, things are looking up. There is something that I haven't mentioned that could seriously alter the projection of my career (in a positive way).

Fitness: havent ran since earlier in the week. Haven't lifted in about 3-4 weeks.

Weight: don't have a scale currently, but ~226.

I have family in town now. Trying to coordinate that.

Bigballin's picture
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Joined: 2011-09-06

Well I'm back. I'm doing better personally. I Went to the doc for a physical. Told him what all was going on. Found out that I have low T. So, I did more blood work and they haven't called back with the source of the problem. I'm not worried though. Side note, this whole personal situation has brought me closer with my own family. I had an open conversation with my dad and told him about my low testosterone. Surprisingly he said that he has it too. He's a macho type, so I didn't really expect that. So, I'm guessing I'll have the option to take a T booster shot every month or get a gel. Either way, it's good to know that I have a legit issue that can be improved, rather than just feeling tired and no desire to be with a woman.  Haha. TMI, I know but I'm using this to vent, fellas! Long story short, I'm renting a smallish house on a golf course. Very nice. It makes such a huge difference to have the living situation settled.  

Professionally? I'm stressed the hell out. The potential good news I mentioned turned out to be just that, wasted potential. So, now I'm looking at a calendar a little over a year away and my salary quits. Straight commission, and I'll either sink or swim. My production is NOWHERE near ready for it. So, I'm coming up with a plan. Given my land locked situation, I have to mount a cold calling campaign. But, I work in a bank and occasionally have a straggler come in and ask questions. To appease my manager and bank officers, I will always take care of bank customers first. But to actually save my tail and bring in some $$$ for me, I'm going to make cold calling decent chunk of my day. 

I figure I can start cold calling in 3 separate one hour blocks. That isn't unreasonable to service bank customers and get a decent amount of calls in. Hopefully, my schedule will allow more time to devote to marketing type activities, but I will budget my first week at 3 blocks of one hour a piece. 3 hours calling biz owners. I'm rusty on my numbers, do you guys think that would equate to roughly 100 dials? More or less? 

Also, what is the minimum account size that you would put into a fee based account? I've never done any fee based ( previous employer was strictly transaction based). I have a lot of accounts that are just kind of sitting there.  I'm going to contact them for a review and update their situation and see what is applicable for them. Some, not all, would be open to a fee based relationship. That would give me some recurring revenue (which I have 0 right now). Any thoughts?

Physical:

Well, since I quit eating fast food 3 meals a day, I lost ~11 pounds in January. I'm cooking a little bit, and eating lean cuisines for dinner. I'm also taking a slim fast and 2 apples with me on that days I travel to other branches. I'm lifting again. I have some old, cheap creatine mix that I started using again. Wow, I can tell a difference in just a couple workouts. I guess the low T explains why I haven't put on as much muscle as I figured I would.  Once I get balanced out, I figure I can pack it on quick. I got a treadmill as a gift, so I'm using that a few times a week. I was talking to a friend doing P90X, so I bought that. I'm tired of going to the gym right now. I've been doing virtually the same workout for a long time. I just did some pushups at my house the other day (changing my grip and legs every time) and Wow.. I worked muscles my bodies wasnt used to. So I think the p90x will be a great change up. I'm not quite ready to jump into it yet. I need to get a chin up bar and be able to at least do a few chin ups. Im going to concentrate on building my back for 2 weeks while it ships, etc. 

but overall, I feel so much better than I did last month.  I am getting to see my kids at least 1 night during the week, and every other weekend.  It's usually more though. I also talk to them on the phone everyday. So, I'm in a much better mood/position. I just have to get this career off the ground now! I need some help!

All The Way's picture
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Joined: 2011-09-20

Bigballin,Good for you with the update. You've got some good leverage with the bank and the foot traffic. use the client base and build, getting seminars and more assets. Yes....hit the phones, don't worry about minimum size of accounts, get comfortable with the process and make adjustments once you got it all nailed. Work for the kids.....the hell with what happens in one year with the base....you're in the job to be a high earner, so focuss on making strides each and every day.....you'll come off the dole earing more then than now.Keep us posted on activites have best of luck......you'll do fine......just work more and talk to more people than 95% of the other advisors, and you'll eventually be in the top 5%....no magic, no shortcuts...just daily action.All The Way

Mindtech's picture
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Joined: 2012-02-11

I look forward to more update - please keep them coming

Bigballin's picture
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Joined: 2011-09-06

Check out my other thread about cold-calling #s please. I can use the help. I'm trying to put together some ideas. My manager isn't going to like cold-calling...going to say 'that doesn't work anymore' etc. So I need some numbers and a plan to show.

Bigballin's picture
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Joined: 2011-09-06

Update time!

Professionally, things are SLOW. This time it's not my fault. Broker/Dealer switch and it hasn't been seamless. I am sitting on a decent amount of new business I'm waiting to turn in, so there has been progress. I have a few appts either set up, or they are waiting on me to nail down a time for them. Had a walk in today for a guy that'll have between 125-150k cash. I guess that's one benefit of working at a bank (though I'm sure it happens at Ed jones too). I'm waiting to set up a meeting to put a 125k rollover (in my possession and was liquidated prior to coming to me) to work. So I'm starting to pick up a few things in the pipeline. I have 28 prospects on my excel Pipeline. I know I should have 75-100, but progress is progress.

Personally, things aren't too damn bad. I found out that my ex is not only dating but bringing over the new guy and mingling his kids and ours for "play dates". Talk about screwing with the kids heads. I didn't expect that type of trailer park antics with her, but oh well. Somehow, she's able to turn it around and get pi$$ed at me for it. She became an expert at turning tables. I'm just glad that I don't have to deal w her drama on the daily anymore! Kids are doing great. They love my place and want to come see everyday. I make it a point to talk to them on the phone every single day (even if it's just 3 minutes). Today I took them to the golf course and they putted around on the practice green. They loved it. Fed them, gave them a bath, watched Puss in boots, and read them a dinosaur bedtime story. Good times!

Health: much better! Finished my second week of p90x today. I love it! I'm putting on quite a bit of muscle. I need to hit the grocery store tomorrow bc I haven't been keeping up the diet part. Ive only had fast food 3 meals since jan 1. I'mprovement over 3 FF meals a day in nov-dec!

Divorce is supposed to go official next week. I think they are going to have to push it back though. My finances/assets are more complicated than they figured. If I can get my house sold soon after the divorce, I'll be sitting pretty financially. I have about 70% equity in the home, so I can use the part of it and buy this house on the golf course. I'd have enough to buy my rental out right, but I'm going to take advantage of some low rates and invest the rest. Actually, I'll probably use some of it to live on and max out my Roth 401k and Roth Ira. Exciting stuff, I know! Haha, but I figured I'd update with some positive news. Theres something else professionally, but I'm holding my breath on it.

I've been out of the market for 6 years, so I got on a dating website to see what is out there. I'm somewhat impressed. Already have two girls that want to meet. One looks like Shakira and the other looks like that girl on She's out of my League (but with dark hair). Obviously, there are drawbacks to them. Why else would they be on dating websites? (yes, I'm damaged goods too) but it's still interesting to meet new people. I'm not anywhere near emotionally ready to date or even hook up. Just trying to dip my foot in the water again. At this point I'm scared it will get bitten off by a shark

Element's picture
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Joined: 2011-12-28

I love this thread.  It's like a train wreck - I don't want to read it, it actually makes me feel a little gay but I'm still drawn to it.  Good for you for working out and getting your sh!t together.  Did you assume your ex would not date again?  Its part of the deal .. it sucks but so does life sometimes. You might consider a parenting agreement if she would be open. I have one and while it does not limit play dates it does address "sleep overs" , etc. etc. My  humble advice ... go on a bunch of dates.  Have fun.  Get drunk and naked.  Do that for about six months or until you meet someone.  Oh, and every woman out there is damaged goods. 

Amber_M's picture
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Joined: 2011-12-26

Element wrote:........  Oh, and every woman out there is damaged goods.   HEY!  I resent that!    Amber

Bigballin's picture
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Joined: 2011-09-06

Element wrote:I love this thread.  It's like a train wreck - I don't want to read it, it actually makes me feel a little gay but I'm still drawn to it.  Good for you for working out and getting your sh!t together.  Did you assume your ex would not date again?  Its part of the deal .. it sucks but so does life sometimes. You might consider a parenting agreement if she would be open. I have one and while it does not limit play dates it does address "sleep overs" , etc. etc. My  humble advice ... go on a bunch of dates.  Have fun.  Get drunk and naked.  Do that for about six months or until you meet someone.  Oh, and every woman out there is damaged goods. 

Lol, the only reasons I can think of people reading this is either A). They love "watching train wrecks" or B). They can appreciate someone being honest and not an Internet Macho guy. Either way, I'm spilling my guts. As far as her not dating, I knew she would eventually. I just assumed after a 5 year marriage that it would take her longer than a month after I moved out. And bc of her warnings about me doing it, I assumed she would at least be discrete about it. There isn't a need to flaunt other guys immediately (at least wait until divorce is final) around our kids. They are really confused and hurt by it. I know because they ask me questions about it. And by mid 20s, I think we're all damaged goods. And as far as getting drunk and naked. . .not a bad idea. It was a lot easier to do that when I was 19. Beautiful girls were just looking to have fun with an ambitious guy. Now it seems like the girls (my age, mid 20s) are either childless, and getting commitment crazy (clock is ticking, more socially than physically) or have kids and are looking for someone to play baby daddy. I imagine I can find someone with similar goals. Just might take some experimenting!

I feel like I'm definitely making progress in my personal life. I'm starting to remember what it's like to be happy again. My professional life is slowly picking up. I'm seeing those bank customers that walk by all the time are actually coming in to talk and open accounts. They are almost always tiny, but I'm starting to see some client referrals. Very positive. At my bank, I'm not supposed to turn away accounts even if they're small, so going through those conversations with little at stake has been great practice for this newbie!

*warning, not for squeamish* Btw, the night I posted my last message, I was easing to sleep around 11:45 and then I heard "daddy.. . *sob sob* daddy". So I went in my kids room. As I opened the door, it felt like a sack of bricks hit me in the nostrils. I knew immediately that one of them had gotten sick. Yep, EVERYWHERE. So without waking the other one, I picked up a frozen stiff, shaking 3 year old. I cleaned him up, ran the bath, brushed his teeth finishing with Spongebob mouthwash. While he was playing in the bath as if nothing happened, I stripped the sheets, pillows, and comforter. . .threw what I could i(trying to keep colors separate) in the washer and ran it. Got him out of the bath, new PJs, and put him in bed with me. After getting up and down with him, I got to sleep about 3:30. Good times! I had them Monday night, Tuesday I took the oldest to soccer practice and Walmart, and I have both of them tonight. It could be a lot worse.

Bigballin's picture
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Amber_M wrote:Element wrote:........  Oh, and every woman out there is damaged goods.   HEY!  I resent that!    Amber

Amber: I don't have a clue what you look like, but there is something attractive about a girl in this industry. I hope your dream becomes a reality.

Was that too cheesy? At least it was honest!

Amber_M's picture
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Bigballin wrote:Amber_M wrote:Element wrote:........  Oh, and every woman out there is damaged goods.   HEY!  I resent that!    Amber

Amber: I don't have a clue what you look like, but there is something attractive about a girl in this industry. I hope your dream becomes a reality.

Was that too cheesy? At least it was honest! Well, you know what my eye looks like! This is the BEST career out there.  Started as my first job out of college and now 10 years in the biz.In my mind, I'm very susccessful.   Have my own biz.  My own clients.  My own staff.  My own office.I Love it!

Element's picture
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Joined: 2011-12-28

^ she is 100% correct. It is the best career out there.  This business is not about killing it each year.  It's about adding a resonable amount of assets and rolling that snowball down the hill.  Even a chump producer can add 5mm in assets per year.  10 years into the career they will be making 200-325k per year if they built the business right.  Unreal.  You just have to keep your head down.  Keep adding clients, use C-shares, wrap programs, and L shares.  Not get lazy and it's amazing the growth that can occur.  If you can manage to add 8mm+ in assets per year you can be a million dollar producer in under 12 years.  Crazy.  Where else can you do that???  I bet Amber has a heck of a business. 

Amber_M's picture
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Joined: 2011-12-26

Element: I think the most important thing that this career provides is "freedom."I don't hold appts on Fridays.  I'm out of the office early that day.  Or, its a day to take clients out for golf during the summer. 4 to 7 day Vacations?  Tons of them.  Long weekends... absolutely.   Weeks away ? ... (nice to have staff.) BUT>>>>  when I'm working, its 60 hour weeks (including the short Fridays.)    It's the freedom to do as you please that is the most special part about this biz.  And you are 100% on target... what other careers allow that? Amber 

ECD's picture
ECD
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Joined: 2011-07-13

I am a ML PMD, and it sounds great to do nothing but add fee based assets.  But as other PMDs and other rookies know, they want you to hit production ASAP.  Doing good so far, but those hurdles get pretty steep.  Gathering assets and letting it grow is not rewarded.  Element & Amber, can you share with me some of the ways you have gained clients?  You go after big game, or add decent account (i.e $100K-250K+), etc?  Any insight is appreciated.   

Amber_M's picture
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Joined: 2011-12-26

ECD:I went to an indy pretty quick and avoided all the production pressures.  But I was living at home at the time and had low overhead. As for marketing, I was nearly 100% seminars.  And yes, I have a minimum to work with now.  But in the beginning did not. Good luck.Amber

ECD's picture
ECD
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Joined: 2011-07-13

Thanks Amber.  Going Indy means what exactly?  Just not wirehouse?  To a Regional or a pure indy on your own?  Thanks again for the info. 

Element's picture
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Joined: 2011-12-28

ECD .. I don't want to hijack this thread but I've built my business with seminars, colding calling, and trade shows.  I started at a regional and went indy last year.  I have a good deal of overhead that becomes less of a burden everytime I close more business.  I have two rules for adding clients 1. I have to like them.  2. If they are over 50 I need to be able to make $1000 GDC per year servicing them otherwise they will drive me crazy later.  If they are under 50 they need to be very serious about saving/investing.    I do not work with jackasses not matter how much money they have or nice people with no money.  I do charity work outside of my business, not in it.  Based on my books growth I would expect to have a 85-100mm by 2020.  Hope that helps.  Feel free to PM me with any questions.

inlandTX's picture
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Element wrote: I do not work with jackasses not matter how much money they have or nice people with no money.  I do charity work outside of my business, not in it. RIGHT THERE is some Gospel truth.

therightadvisor's picture
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Joined: 2011-10-17

It sounds like to me that you need two basic things that will greatly improve your life and your business. You need more self-worth and motivation. A bit of a personal anecdote. I'm 23 years old. I'm a former powerlifter and college baseball player. I found an extreme amount of success in powerlifting but ended my career with a back injury. As a result, I was sidelined for the better part of the first 2 years of college. During that time, I ballooned up from 211 pounds to 240+ at the height of things. My junior year, my girlfriend(who I had dated for almost 4 years) broke up with me. I was devastated and that was my motivation. I weighed myself the day after at 244lbs and decided I was going to show her. I was extremely strict with my diet, weight lifting, and running. I was on a strict 2000 calorie a day diet. I also had baseball practice for 2 hours and immediately after I would lift weights for 1 hour and jog 6 miles after that. I went from 244 pounds down to 190 in 15 weeks. After that everything improved, my grades got even better, I had to push away girls at the bar, and I hardly ever got sick any more.I try and treat my business the same way although I've had time where I've fallen out of the groove. I'm still very new to the business, but I always remember that having a schedule and plan to stick to makes things easy.Get to feeling better about yourself and your life and everything will improve. Set goals for yourself and exceed them. It's very easy to go through the motions without a plan, but with one, you can either say "Did I accomplish this?"Everyone will agree that the way your carry yourself affects how you are perceived. No one wants to do business with someone who is fat, sad, and depressed. They want the biggest and baddest out there and you need to feel like you're that package.I will say as a great disclaimer that I know dieting and fitness like the back of my hand. I squatted 675 pounds when I was 17 years old, played college baseball, lost 54 pounds like I told you, and I come from a family of runners. However, the business side of things, I'm still very new at, but I try and learn as much as possible and so far I feel like I'm ahead of the game.You have kids so that should be an easy motivation for your life and business. One the business side, do you want them to get a new pair of socks from Santa or do you want them to have an entire Toys R Us under the tree? On the personal side, do you want to be around to be a grandpa some day or do you want to die from a heart attack at 50? Get to feeling better about yourself and others will feel better about you. When that happens, the more people you talk to, the more success you will have.Send me a private message if you'd like to talk more about it. I'm happy to help because I've been there in certain ways.

Itainteasy's picture
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Joined: 2011-10-30

What an interesting thread :) 

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