Advisors: How Do You Answer “What Do You Do?”

There’s light at the end of the tunnel.  States are removing lockdown restrictions.  Live events are coming back.  You will decide if and when you are comfortable mixing and mingling.  Before long, you will attend an event and someone will ask: “What do you do?”  What’s your answer?

Six Answers for “What Do You Do?”

You’ve been there before.  Here are a few arrows for your quiver:

  1. Title and firm.  “I’m a financial advisor at (firm).”  It’s the obvious answer.  You are irked because they start saying “I already have a financial advisor” before you have finished speaking.
  2. Add a little detail.  You used the above expression adding “I work with a small group of senior executives in (town).”   It prompts the question “What do you do for them?”
  3. You have many roles.  You are at a charity gala.  You serve on the Board.  They asked “What do you do?”  They didn’t include the words “for a living.”  You answer in the context of your role at the nonprofit.  “I’m a volunteer here.  I’m a member of the board.”  They might draw you out or talk about their connection to the group.  If they say “I meant what do you do for a living” you could reply: “In my day job, I’m a financial advisor at (firm).
  4. The need as the example.  My brother-in-law is a CPA.  When he gets asked that question he responds; “Ever get one of those certified letters from the IRS?”  The other person shutters.  He continues “We handle that kind of problem.”
  5. Sleeping soundly.  This one’s been around for years: “We help wealthy people sleep at night.”  It’s a little trite.  Perhaps they think you sell expensive mattresses.  Since you smile as you answer, they will likely ask for more details.

The 6th Example

I like keywords.  They hold additional meaning below the surface.  Consider the following example:

I’m an officer at (firm). I work with a small group of successful business owners and families in the (town name) area.”

That’s 21 words.  Here’s what people hear below the surface:

  • Officer.  You likely have an officer title like “vice president.”  Many people were raised to respect military officers and police officers.
  • Small.  Small = exclusive
  • Successful.  Most people consider themselves successful.
  • Business owners.  They have many needs.  You probably do a lot.
  • Families.  It speaks to family values.
  • (Town name) area.  You live and work in the community.  The money you earn is recycled into the local economy.

There are many ways to answer “What do you do?”  You need to find one that’s a comfortable fit and use it often.

Related: 12 Reasons Now Is When to be Investing