Hannah Moore, CFP®, is the owner of Guiding Wealth and an active force in the FPA’s work to educate, empower, and inspire new financial planners. Hannah spoke with Stephanie Trexler, CFP®, in an Ask Me Anything session at the FPA Michigan Student Success Summit. She shared the secret sauce behind FPA’s Virtual Externship Program and her excitement about the next generation of planners. You’ll also hear Hannah’s thoughts on the one indispensable skill she believes that up-and-coming financial professionals should cultivate for success.

What’s happening with FPA’s Virtual Externship Program?

The AMA kicked off with the biggest question on everyone’s mind: what’s happening with the Virtual Externship?

Back in 2020, Hannah and the FPA team watched as thousands of CFP® student internships were cancelled because of the pandemic. Knowing how crucial the placements were for new planners to help them get early experience, connect with mentors, and start finding where they fit within the profession, the team wanted to help. Hannah says, “We got this crazy idea; what if we could recreate an internship experience online?” That’s where the “externship” was born.

Last year’s externship was a swimming success — with over 1,100 externs signing up to join in. This year, the externship is coming back, with new additions and experiences. Hannah explains, “One of the really strong things about the externship was that you got to see into not just one firm, but a lot of different firms.” This year, many of the volunteer mentors featured in the program will be returning, along with new ones, who will show students what financial planning looks like for them on a practical, day-to-day basis. Rather than presenting an abstract, PowerPoint lecture about their roles, the volunteers will share actual deliverables and participants will get to practice with real-life tools like eMoney and MorningStar Advisor Workspace.

One of the big additions this year are real-life recorded client meetings. With these, Hannah shares, externs “get to sit in on some of my client meetings. You're going to get training not just on how to do the back office of financial planning, but also on how to take client notes, and then we're going to be building plans off of that. Be sure to register for that! We're excited about it.”

How can new planners cope with imposter syndrome?

Some of the audience questions followed a theme that’s familiar to all financial planners: How do we cope with the fear of making mistakes and how do we deal with imposter syndrome?

Hannah said, “I'll tell you, when we recorded those client meetings for the externship, I watched them and saw mistakes that I had made. I’m almost twelve years into this, and I'm still making mistakes. They're not huge, massive mistakes, but I'm realizing, I could have listened better to that client. I think we all have room for improvement.”

Hannah said she regretted worrying so much about being perfect in her early days as a planner. She told Stephanie, “I just put so much pressure on myself, trying to figure out the absolute best career pathway. I was constantly asking myself, where am I going to be in 10 years? How am I going to set this up? Instead of really just exploring all of the options that were really available to me, I think I tried to plan everything almost to a fault. I wish I wouldn't have put as much pressure on myself for that.”

Her antidote for imposter syndrome is to focus on helping. Hannah realized it’s not about her, it’s about the clients. That’s why, in her client meetings, Hannah asks herself, “How do I listen better? How do I make this more about them? All those times when I feel like I'm an imposter, maybe I'm focusing too much on myself.”

What should new planners do now to find their path in the profession?

Three big areas Hannah touched on in her advice were branding and content creation, seeking out inspiration, and building the most essential skill for any financial planner.

With regards to creating content to market yourself, she said, “Number one, just know that oftentimes, you kind of just have to ship your ugly first draft. And it's okay. When I go back and look at the beginning podcast that we had, I just, I just can't do it! But people don't remember that. They're like, ‘You’re 200 some-odd episodes into this. You got this.’ And I'm like, ‘Well, I'm a lot better now than I was.’” The improvement comes with repetition, so just get started, Hannah recommends.

Her next recommendation was to break out of isolation and seek out new perspectives on your career as early as possible. As puts it, it’s incredibly important to be networking and to have peers who are working at completely different types of firms than you, so you can really get insights into the profession as a whole. She recommended podcasts like the FPA’s You’re a Financial Planner, Now What? She also mentioned the Facebook Group, FPA Activate, saying, “There's two or three thousand people in there. It's a great community. Even if you're not ready to ask questions, it's a great place to just go lurk and learn about what our financial planners are talking about today.” She also recommended several books, including Advice that Sticks, by Dr. Moira Somers, and Start with Why, by Simon Sinek.

Finally, Hannah shared the one skill she thinks every financial planner needs to master in order to succeed. “Learn to listen. Your clients don't really care how old you are, they care that they're heard.” Whether you’re speaking with your partner, a client, or your boss, challenge yourself to hear and understand what they’re really saying and why they’re doing what they’re doing. Ask follow-up questions and remember that people remember how you make them feel. She recommended an article about exquisite listening in the Journal of Financial Planning by Lindsey M. Larrabee, CPWA®, FBS®, and Bradley T. Klontz, Psy.D., CFP®.

What does the future hold for the Next Gen?

During this discussion, it’s obvious that Hannah is enthusiastic about the power of the next generation, and optimistic about their future.

She told the Summit audience, “Technology and [other] things are rapidly changing, but it’s all second nature to your generation. You guys are going to be able to bring so much value into the workplace. My work with the FPA is, how do we help you do that? So stay tuned. There's a lot of really cool things going on to help you guys. But I think your generation is positioned better than any generation so far, and you will be a huge, disruptive force in financial services and financial planning.”

What You’ll Learn:

  • What the FPA Virtual Externship Program is, and what’s new in 2021
  • How new planners can cope with imposter syndrome
  • What aspiring planners should do now to shine in their career
  • What the future holds for the Next Generation

In this episode of YAFPNW, Hannah Moore, CFP® and Stephanie Trexler, CFP® discuss:

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