Sam Lee is a financial advisor, investor, and finance enthusiast. His experiences in finance include working working as a bond trader in Chicago, a risk analyst intern in Dublin Ireland for RBS (Ulster Bank is a subsidiary), and as an investment banking analyst intern at a boutique bank. Sam is interested in helping people with their personal finances and life decisions. He also has a variety of entrepreneurial experiences, including building and monetizing his own website. Sam recently completed a master in finance and has launched his own practice as a financial advisor.
1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?
My current role is a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch. When I think about the skillset and experience which helps me with this role, getting a college degree in a business related role such as finance, accounting, or economics helps. I received a BS in finance from the University of Illinois. This got me interested in the world of finance and investments. My first job out of college was working as a fixed income trader at a small firm in Chicago where I acted in a broker capacity buying and selling municipal and corporate bonds for clients. This helped me learn about the technical aspects of investments (in particular fixed income). It also helped me to practice watching the markets everyday, to think quickly on my feet, and have attention to the details especially when dealing with millions of dollars of client money. One thing in particular I learned more about is that money is an emotional thing, and building rapport and trust is required when working with families who are making decisions on their money.
The job was a great experience but I was looking for something more fulfilling. I decided to clear my head and travel for a few months so I booked a one way ticket to Korea and started traveling to different countries. You may not think this is relevant to being a financial advisor, but my experiences in different countries and seeing the stark contrasts in poverty and wealth, compelled me to increase my financial education and to help teach others about finance (I truly think that education is the way to lift people out of poverty in the long run). Upon returning to the US, I successfully completed a masters degree in finance and started an internship working directly with the former President of Charles Schwab (timmccarthy.com), who I now consider my mentor (not only is education and work experience important in finding your career path, but also the people that you meet that really guides your path). Because of this, I decided to become a financial advisor, so that I can utilize my experiences and education to help as many people I can with financial education, personal finance, and investments.
2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?
As a financial advisor, one critical attribute to success is the ability to listen to your clients and prospective clients. Essentially the job is listening and figuring out the wants and needs of the person you are working with and providing solutions to their problems. Being trustworthy is also important as clients will not hand over their retirement savings if they don’t trust you. Generally, having a high emotional intelligence and good people skills is very important for this job. In addition, an advisor needs to be the jack of all trades in the aspect of also having a high degree of analytical skills. Analyzing an investment proposal, sifting through a personal financial statement, researching complicated tax issues for the client all require a degree of analytical ability and being good with numbers.
3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers. Which type of job are you in?
According to those 4 job types, perhaps improver? Asset allocators and helping people improve their personal finances.
4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?
My job is pretty much independent. Many times I will be on the road or working from home talking to prospects and servicing clients.
5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?
I am a revenue generator, so I add money to the company’s bottom line.
6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?
My job is pretty “safe” in the sense that working conditions are in an office environment, air conditioned, I’m wearing a business suit, etc.
7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?
To put it bluntly, being a financial advisor, it is a tough business at the start, but the longer you are in this business, the better it gets.
As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.