Real career advice from real financial advisors
From personal finance to networking to philanthropy, here are five tips to help you get ahead at work and in life.
What advice do you wish you’d gotten when you were first starting out? We asked these experienced financial advisors from Wells Fargo Advisors for honest answers they would tell their younger selves. These five tips, insights, and guidance are great for college graduates entering the workforce or wherever you are on your journey.
1. Pay yourself first.
“Once you know what your budget is, paying yourself should be one of your expenses,” said Jennifer Garcia, a private wealth financial advisor and managing director of investments in Encino, California.
“Paying yourself should be one of your expenses.” — Jennifer Garcia, private wealth financial advisor
“Paying yourself first” means prioritizing saving and investing by routing income to designated accounts before paying bills and making other purchases. A great byproduct of this strategy is it can help you limit spending.
Here’s how to do it: After you figure out how much you can set aside, determine if the money will be before-tax dollars from your paycheck to a 401(k), or after-tax dollars that transfers from your checking to a savings account. Garcia recommends making it easy and automatic, “just like paying a bill.”
2. Build a strong network.
Sarah Schweppe, a financial advisor in Charlotte, North Carolina, suggests surrounding yourself with people who have a success mindset. “If you have a network of folks who are motivated, supportive, and encouraging, that can really drive your own personal and professional growth and inspire you to achieve and set your own high standards.”
“Surround yourself with people who have a success mindset." — Sarah Schweppe, financial advisor
Schweppe warns about only taking withdrawals from your networking bank; you’ll want to make deposits too. “Look for opportunities to help and advocate for others,” she said. “It can be a symbiotic relationship that you can carry with you and build over time.”
College can be a great start to your network. “Stay in touch as your contacts move into different industries and careers so you can have a broad and diversified network,” she said.
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3. Start giving now.
If you’re a young professional who thinks you don’t have anything to give, Marc Ackerman, a Los Angeles-based financial advisor, urges you to reconsider. “Don’t wait until you have time to give time. Start giving now. Start giving of your time by volunteering to serve those in need.”
“Giving will be transformative for you." — Marc Ackerman, private wealth financial advisor
Ackerman also recommends creating a giving plan that could include monetary donations when you have the flexibility. “Think about what you’re most passionate about and why," he said. “And remember, there are tax advantages to giving money away, when you’re able to do so.”
“Giving will be transformative for you. It will bring you perspective; it will bring you empathy,” said Ackerman. “It’s changed my life and brought me joy.”
4. Find a mentor.
Find a position that you aspire to have, or if you’re new in a position, connect with someone who is already in that role, recommends Garcia.
“Interview them, ask questions, be curious.” — Jennifer Garcia, private wealth financial advisor
So you can learn from them, connect with them on a regular basis. Track your progress so you’re accountable to them and to yourself.
“Interview them, ask questions, be curious,” Garcia said.
5. Stay in touch with friends.
“This is my 24th year as an advisor, and I see people who are doing everything right,” Washington, D.C.-based Financial Advisor John Marshall said. “They save, they invest, they work, they get promotions. Next thing they know, 20 years have gone by, and they’ve lost the great relationships they had from their childhood and college.”
“Just calling friends. That’s the one thing I wished I’d done a better job at.” — John Marshall, senior vice president – investment officer
Marshall’s advice is to keep it all in perspective: “People don’t remember the promotions you’ve received, the deals you’ve closed, or the great years you’ve had in the business. However, they do remember the moments you’ve shared and the adventures you’ve had together,” he said. “I’m great at calling clients, but not great at just calling friends. That’s the one thing I wished I’d done a better job at.”
“Now I pick up the phone and say, ‘I just called to check in on my friend to see how you’re doing and what you’re up to.’ That makes both our days.”
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