The reason I wanted to become a financial consultant is that I like finance and the prestige of the job. You have to adapt to different clients, you get involved in domestic and international business, you know what is happening to the dollar, the yen. Income wasn't the No. 1 motivation, but I definitely took it under consideration. The job is challenging, the market is up one day, down one day.
The day the stock market went down 91.55 points (Oct. 6) we had a power blackout downtown. We had no machines, no phones. In the afternoon I contacted my clients, the short-term traders, but we didn't close any positions, so it's all paper loss.
Despite this past week's events, I definitely don't think the long-term bull market is dying; there is still much more potential for this market to grow. I might not have been in a bear market before, but our analysts in New York have, and I am getting my knowledge from them.
If a bear market happens, it'll be a setback of maybe two or three months, till I can direct my business to other areas of financial services. It'll change the kind of business I do. Instead of being in stocks, I'll do estate planning, life insurance. I am not going to change my mind about my profession unless we have a major depression, and then, yes, I might go into selling Chicklets on the side of the street, but I don't think that's going to happen.
I have gotten my clients through cold calls, mailers and free seminars I've done in hotel lobbies across town. When you start, you make a lot of cold calls. I know some people who do 200 a day. I wasn't the kind of person who liked to do it, I used to do 50 to 100 a day. Now I probably make about 100 a week. I tried everything, reverse directories, index cards--there are so many companies out there that provide you with names and numbers of prospects--lists of recent graduates of UCLA or USC.
Entering Estate Planning
If a name is easily available, it's not a good name. Successful, influential people--and that's who you want to talk to--have unlisted phone numbers. You go in cycles, sometimes you get a good streak, you get two or three good names, and sometimes you're dry. That's why you have to keep changing the list.
What I like to do on cold calls is introduce myself and find out what the client's objective is. Is he a risk taker? Is he conservative? Does he want income? Growth? A tax shelter? I can't feel comfortable selling or mentioning an investment to somebody without knowing something about them. That's why we are not called stockbrokers anymore. We want to be called financial consultants. I know 90% of my clients extremely well, met with them several times. You have lunch with them once in a while, go to their house, meet the wife, see what kind of car they drive.
Something I'm trying to get into right now is estate planning. Investors who have a lot of money are older and need retirement and estate planning. I can work with lawyers and CPAs and set up a trust account for the client. Not only will I save the client money, but his children's inheritance will be enhanced, they'll get savings in taxes. I'm still young and if I do the job for their parents, the children will become my clients in the future. That's why I'm trying to build a good rapport with families.
When I first started in the business, I invested in the Hong Kong market and was able to get a 300% return for one of my clients. To be a successful investor, you can't but look at it internationally. It's a trend now, and I follow it because I don't want to get caught in a situation where the American market would collapse and I'd be stuck. I'm protecting myself.
The public has a perception of somebody who comes in this business and in six months starts making in the six figures. But it takes two, three or four years to develop a good client base and earn a decent living. I guarantee you the majority of brokers who have been in the business less than two years are actually struggling. You probably think I drive a Mercedes or a Lamborghini. There are brokers my age out there driving those, but you always hear stories about somebody who went to the top too fast and collapsed. The key is consistency. I don't know if I'd be very comfortable being extremely successful very fast. I think I've got to earn it. I'd love to drive an Aston Martin convertible one day. Now I drive a Ford Thunderbird.