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Opinion

Military Experience and Money

September 7, 2017

Financial advisors often use their life experiences to coach their clients on the best financial strategies and decisions. Typically we pull inspiration from our role as a parent, spouse or friend – as well as from any previous job experience. In my case I was able to utilize the skills and characteristics I developed in the military to begin a career in the financial services industry.

On returning to the United States after serving three tours with the Army in the Middle East, I had no plans to become an advisor. The opportunity to pursue such a career fell into my lap and I quickly found out the call of duty I once had as a military strategist and negotiator translated well to advising clients on their financial needs.

Veterans and advisors share more in common than you think. The skills I used while traveling through different countries are tactics I still use today while serving my clients.

Communication

While serving in the military – especially when deployed abroad – building strong relationships with liaisons sometimes means overcoming language and cultural barriers. Beyond that, clear and concise communication is essential when dealing with situations in combat.

Parallels can be seen in client communication – both clients and allies deserve the raw truth about a current situation when trying to move forward. Whether in combat or behind a desk, there is no room for jargon. Instead it’s imperative to be straightforward when communicating with clients. Being able to simplify a conversation into easy-to-understand concepts is what clients truly value. And drilling down to what is important and realistic is what works to build revenue.

Desired outcomes are much easier to achieve when both parties can understand the unique strategy that best fits them. Becoming a relatable ally or financial advisor puts the receiving side at ease. Communicating with empathy toward a single mom, retiree, or overseas liaison gets results.

Independence

The role of a military strategist teaches you how to process information rapidly; throw out the superfluous resources and decide what is needed to have the best effect on your mission. Operating without supervision or direct orders to avoid collateral damage and mass causalities fosters a strong sense of independence and outstanding decision-making skills.

As a financial advisor, building a financial plan is identifying a goal, processing valuable information and expanding on it to build your clients’ portfolios and your firm’s revenue. In advising, you’re trusted with an immense amount of responsibility. It’s up to you to correctly identify the right strategies for your clients, analyze which tactics work for them – and which don’t – and make decisions on their behalf. The ability to work independently with high stakes on the line – like your client’s retirement fund – makes for a better advisor and a better practice.

Loyalty

I believe loyalty is important to creating trust in a long-term relationship. As a military strategist, you are often trusted to make decisions that can impact hundreds or thousands of lives. If there’s any lack of trust, military operations just aren’t possible. To develop and build trust and loyalty, it’s vital to fulfill the things you say you are going to do and to go above and beyond for your fellow soldier.

The relationships I build with my clients are based on loyalty; therefore, it’s essential to only make promises that can be fulfilled. In advising, I’ve seen multiple times where others aren’t willing to take responsibility when things go wrong. However, as any solider would in the field, a great financial advisor will put their career on the line to preserve and protect a client’s lifeline. Accepting and upholding that responsibility has made me more devoted to and dependable for my clients.

During my years in combat I never would have imagined my military skillset would lead me to this industry. Yet my commitment to serve and protect my fellow citizens is exactly what I’m doing today. Just as clients have benefited from my practice, our industry will continue to benefit from military veteran advisors.