On the surface, owning nutritional supplement stores and advising people on how to build a successful retirement plan may appear to have little in common.
But experience has taught Andrew Zanowski there are key similarities shared by the two seemingly disparate careers.
“Whether it’s nutrition or finances, you can build a great plan, but getting someone to follow it is another thing,” said Zanowski who opted to follow a new career path that took him from helping people improve their physical health to advising them on their financial health in 2011.
“One door was closing and this one opened. It was a relatively smooth process,” Zanowski said.
That open door was an opportunity for the 34-year-old to join his father, Dennis, as a partner in his practice, Zanowski Financial Group in Chesterfield, Missouri. Zanowski admits starting out in his father’s well-established practice made his introduction to the industry smoother than what most new advisors experience. However, partnering with a parent can present a new set of unexpected challenges, he said.
“You have those family dynamics; he’s known me for 34 years,” Zanowski quipped. Because of their proximity to both AT&T and Boeing’s corporate offices in St. Louis, the father-son team has carved out a niche market made up of preretirees and retirees from both corporations.
While most of his clients are more than two decades older than him, Zanowski said he doesn’t view his age as a disadvantage. Instead, he’s found it can build trust with clients, which has proven to be one of the most rewarding aspects of his new career.
“I’m not so young that experience is a concern,” he said. “Clients hope this will be a long-term relationship measured in decades. It’s valuable to them to know they have someone who can go the distance.”
To build that trust, Zanowski and his father thoroughly investigate their clients’ retirement plans and needs so they can explain the many choices available to the client.
“We’re thorough when doing our investigative research,” he said. “We understand the pensions and 401(k) plans for Boeing and AT&T employees. We dig in and don’t just go for the simplest solutions. Feeling competent in what I do is rewarding for me. That comes from that thoroughness.”
The next generation of advisors will need the patience and fortitude to survive the challenges that go with building a business before they can enjoy the benefits. He added, the biggest obstacle budding advisors will need to overcome is the lack of a well-defined entry point to the industry where they can safely learn the ropes.
“I’m not sure how many clear career paths there are to become an advisor,” he said. “I think most older advisors are going to hold onto their business longer. Some might be willing to bring in a junior advisor to train.”
Like building a successful retirement plan, young advisors need to be thorough in their research when trying to break into the industry and build a book of business. Zanowski recommends they start by researching their options.
“If someone came to me and said they want to be an advisor, I’d tell them they are going to need to buy a lot of coffee. They’ll need to have coffee with representatives from wirehouses and independents. They’ll need to learn how they spend their day, how they started their business and what opportunities they saw. Then they need to look at their own strengths and weaknesses and find something that matches.”
In addition to the difficulties of getting up and running, a new advisor needs to be prepared for the day-to-day challenges of working in a heavily regulated industry and interacting with clients.
To better prepare himself to coach clients, Zanowski recently completed his Behavioral Financial Advice certification, training he recommends for financial advisors of all ages.
“This is a complex industry,” Zanowski said. “Regulations, the markets and dealing with clients’ emotions. Anytime emotions involve money, they’re going to be strong. Being able to understand that behavior is important.”
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