How to Get the Most from a Mentor Relationship

Here is a very important concept for new advisors to understand.  Your manager wants you to succeed.  They and the firm put a lot of effort into interviewing candidates and deciding to hire you.  They have invested in training you.  To realize a return on their investment, they need you to succeed.  Put another way, you have a cheering section.

You also hear other voices in the background.  There are advisors who grumble.  They say things like: “I would never bring my children into this business” and “The business has completely changed since I started.”  Do not let them bring you down.

Getting the Most from a Mentor Relationship

Your firm might have a formal mentorship program.  If not, you need to find yourself a good mentor.  Keeps these points in mind.

  1. Pick the right person.  The ideal mentor is hardworking and successful.  They have an upbeat attitude.  Their office door is open. (Some advisors always keep their doors closed.)  Some advisors are born teachers.  They feel they were given the opportunity to build a good career.  They want to give back.
  2. Demonstrate similar traits.  These advisors are aware of the “newbies” around the office.  They have an intuitive sense of who is going to make it in this business.  You want to be seen as keeping long hours, unafraid to work hard and displaying a positive attitude.    You want to remind them of themselves, earlier in their career.
  3. Start with lunch.  In my opinion, you shouldn’t walk into their office, plop down in their side chair and say “Please adopt me.”   When you head to the firm’s cafeteria for lunch and see them sitting nearby, ask if you can join them.  Do this even if they are seated in a small group.  You want to give them the chance to ask you questions and get to know you better.
  4. Approach them in their office on a quiet day.  Let them know you realize they are successful.  Give a few reasons explaining how you reached that conclusion.  You want to be successful at this job too.  You would like to learn from them.  Would it be OK if you met with them periodically?  You might even use the word mentor.  They will have figured it out.
  5. Always be prepared.  Perhaps you meet for 30 minutes once a week after the market close.  You start by bringing a list of questions.  You are interviewing them, only there is no article being written.  Take careful notes.  In future visits, review what you talked about last and the actions you have taken.
  6. Be a sponge.  They will likely be impressed by your discipline.  They will decide you should be taught certain skills.  They will put together their own informal curriculum.  Take careful notes.  Ask questions, but do not criticize.  Once they see you are receptive, they will want to teach more and more.
  7. Talk about specific prospects.  The objective is to ring the cash register.  In addition to learning about products and sales techniques, you want help in turning prospects into clients.  They have likely run into similar situations before.  They can tell you what worked.
  8. Give your mentor the credit.  Your business is improving.  Your manager is impressed.  They let you know.  Tell your manager about the informal mentoring relationship.  Let them know they are helping you succeed.

What’s In It For the Mentor?

Many advisors are eager to teach.  There are other ways they benefit too.

  1. Does the firm have a formal program?  If so, the mentor might receive compensation from the firm.  Why?  Because their time is valuable.
  2. Newbies are often younger.  This gives the established advisor the opportunity to learn how the next generation thinks and how they make buying decisions.  The established advisor has next gen clients too.
  3. Learn about new technologies.  Newer advisors tend to embrace new technologies faster than experienced advisors.  Maybe you understand social media.  Maybe you need a little help.
  4. Feeling of satisfaction.  Many people want to feel they are giving back, helping the next generation of advisors get established in the business.  They feel good about helping others.
  5. Renewed enthusiasm.  The mentor sees themselves in their mentee.  They think “If I had my life to do over again, what would I do differently?”  They are excited about helping.
  6. Learning about new products.  Established advisors are often good at prospecting and cultivating relationships.  They also have favorite products that keep them in their comfort zone.  Newer advisors can help them learn about new products.
  7. Partnership potential.  Many firms embrace the partnership concept.  The established advisor might see the new advisor as part of their succession plan.  There can be unexpected benefits for both parties.

Mentorships can be ideal if the right people find their way to one another.

Related: How to Get Someone Talking About Their Advisor