Ask Stacy: Should I Become a Financial Advisor?

Photo (cc) by epicharmus

The vast majority of the traffic to this site comes from the United States, but not all. Today we’re fielding a question from a student in Australia. And even if you’re not interested in becoming a stockbroker, check it out anyway – in case you ever want to use one…

Hi Stacy:

I am a big fan of yours. I live in Australia. Therefore, some of the tips don’t work for me, but the majority are similar. I would like to thank you for all the tips and advice. They make my life easier. But Stacy, I need your advice.

Currently I am doing bachelor of Biomedicine at one of the most famous schools in Australia – Melbourne University. However, I find that a biology and medicine degree is not for me.

I am thinking of changing into finance, as I absolutely love reading financial news- and most important, to be in control of my financial life. The university that I want to enroll in offers 2 majors. I want to become a financial advisor, an independent investor in the stock market or a broker like you. Therefore, I’d like your advice. Apart from finance, I can choose between banking, accounting, business law, economics and marketing,

Please reply to my email, even a few words will help.

Regards,
Luke

Here’s my advice, Luke!

Lesson 1: Life is short, and you already lose a third of it sleeping. Don’t lose another third doing something that isn’t you.

When I was about 14, I was sitting at the dinner table one night when my father casually mentioned that one of his friends, a CPA, was making money hand-over-fist. He went on to suggest that accounting would make a good career choice for me.

Fast forward five years, and I’m a junior in college on my way to a philosophy degree – two short years until reality would hit me like a cold slap in the face. What to do? I had taken an accounting class as an elective and found it easy and kind of interesting. So for no reason other than that – plus a fear of starvation – I changed my major, took more accounting courses, and graduated two years later with a degree.

My dad was right about one thing: Finding a job wasn’t hard. What he neglected to mention (and I neglected to consider) was that I’d have to do accounting eight hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year. I hated it.

So soon after I earned my CPA license, I bailed. The three years I spent as an accountant weren’t wasted, and I don’t regret them. But I learned a valuable lesson: Don’t ever choose a career because your dad thinks it’s a good idea or because it will be easy to find work. If you possibly can, find something you love. Do that, and you’ll never “work” a day in your life.

Lesson 2: Before you take a leap, study what you’re jumping into.

After my brief stint as an accountant, I chose a much more exciting career – investment advisor for E.F. Hutton. The appeal for me was similar to Luke’s. I liked and understood money, and I assumed that becoming a stockbroker would enable me to help other people and successfully invest on my own.

Wrong on both counts.

While “investment advisors” do learn a lot about stocks, bonds, commodities, etc., their job is more selling than advising. During my first interview at E.F. Hutton, the manager literally said, “I’d rather have a used car salesman sitting across the desk from me right now than a CPA.” Something to keep in mind the next time you’re sitting across the desk from an “advisor.”

And as for making money for myself with my vast knowledge of the markets? Having instant information, being constantly bombarded with “hot tips” from colleagues, and thinking I knew what I was doing all combined to make me a bad trader rather than a good investor. It wasn’t until after I left that business 10 years later that I started consistently doing well in the stock market.

Again, being a stockbroker wasn’t a decision I regret. It taught me valuable sales skills and set the stage for what I’ve been doing now for more than 20 years: something I truly love. The point is that in both cases – accounting and stockbroking – I committed without understanding what the job was really about. I should have done something simple, like actually talking to as many people as possible who worked these jobs before I made the leap.

And of course, that’s what Luke just did. Smart!

Got more money questions? Browse lots more Ask Stacy answers here.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
Never Buy These 19 Things Online
Never Buy These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

5 Reasons You Should Retire Sooner, Not Later
5 Reasons You Should Retire Sooner, Not Later

Waiting until age 70 to retire isn’t for everyone. Could you be waiting too long?

Should You Hire a Service to Negotiate Your Cable and Other Bills?
Should You Hire a Service to Negotiate Your Cable and Other Bills?

Services like BillCutterz and BillFixers will negotiate your cable, internet, phone and other monthly bills in exchange for a share of the savings. I tried it: Here’s what happened.

10 Expenses You Should Not Put on a Credit Card
10 Expenses You Should Not Put on a Credit Card

Sometimes it’s simply safer to keep the plastic tucked away.

What’s the Difference Between FICO and VantageScore Credit Scores?
What’s the Difference Between FICO and VantageScore Credit Scores?

There are lots of credit scores out there, but if you’re keeping an eye on your credit, here’s the one to watch.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19
Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19

It takes just seconds to take this simple preventive measure.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It
15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It

Discover some must-have products on Amazon that you didn’t even know you were missing.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.