Career Opportunities in Financial Services

By Alex Lee, Financial Advisor Apprentice, Edward Jones

Even since graduating in December 2009, from the BAS (Finance) program at York University, I still remember studying until 1:00 AM at the Tel Building the day before the exam and sprinting to the Scott Library to print assignments ten minutes before the deadline.  That all-nighter, 24/7 style of hard work is something I’ve carried with me ever since I branched out into the real world and started working as an Apprentice this January at Edward Jones.

I accepted this position to gain valuable experience in the Financial Services industry.  And with Edward Jones being the largest Private-Partnership investment company in North America, with close to 13,000 offices and ranked No. 2 on Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For 2010” list, it’s a great organization to start my career.

There are two routes to becoming a Financial Advisor at Edward Jones.  You can go directly into the Financial Advisor Program and become licensed and trained.  The other option is to first enter the Apprentice Program for three months and then enrol in the Financial Advisor Program once Edward Jones and the Apprentice agree to continue.

I was one of the top eleven chosen from across Canada to participate in the latter program—a program that included individuals coming from a variety of provinces, including Manitoba and British Columbia.  The Apprenticeship route I chose because it provides me with an opportunity to work under a veteran in the industry for a three-month period.  The program started with three days of intense training at the Mississauga head office, alongside those ten other apprentices.

On the fourth day though, I started knocking door-to-door in the Unionville neighbourhood where my host advisor’s office is located and introduced myself and Edward Jones to individuals in the neighbourhood.

Initially, it was very challenging experience emotionally and physically to walk around four to five hours a day and have doors slammed on my face.  In just first month of work, I lost 10 pounds of weight, my shoes had holes ground into their bottoms, worn-out clothes and bag, blistered foot and a fatigued body.  You really need to have a positive attitude and be able to motivate yourself everyday to go out and meet new people.

I sat down with an Investment Advisor whom I respect greatly and he said these words to me, “You need to do work nobody wants to do, to have the life style everybody wants.”

I learned many valuable lessons as I started working this profession.  For one, I learned the value of a contact, because I knew how hard I had to work to earn a person’s trust and get them to open up to a conversation.

Second, I learned the value of money.  People trust you with money they earned from their 9-to-5 or 9-to-9 job and I have to be diligent with their money.  This is not a stock competition to make 50% return in few months.  This is money families saved up from making sacrifices in their spending to plan for their future.

And third, I learned the value of my profession. Investing is a tool, not an end goal for most people.  Our job is to work as a team with individuals to help them meet their financial goals and make wise decisions with their money.

Although most people don’t consider Investment Advising as a rock-star profession in Finance, I am strongly convinced that this career allows me to fully utilize my knowledge and skills to help others.

My Advice: Start networking with professionals in the industry of your interest.  Remember, it’s not always about what you know, but who you know.  Second, keep your knowledge updated; I read the Globe and Mail, Bloomberg and Yahoo Finance.  And last, find a mentor or a role model, mine is Michael Lee-Chin.

By Alex Lee

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