“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.
Mike the Financial Advisor says he never foresaw himself working anywhere in the financial industry.
“I was not good with money when I was younger and all the stuff that I tell people not to do - I did! I was that guy. I had an RRSP when I was 25 and cashed it when I was 27. Just things that you're not supposed to do, I did all of them for a variety of reasons.”
Mike Bissett is a former radio host who has been a financial advisor for over five years, the last year, acting as an independent advisor.
“I'm a licensed professional and Canada Life is the organization that holds my license; however, it's not the only company whose products I can use. I can use investments from other companies and offer any number of insurance policies, depending on what the client and I think fits best to their situation,” he says.
It was through working at Rogers Radio that he says he “started to pay a little more attention to his financial future.”
“Rogers had an employee wealth share program and I started looking at it a little bit more. When I saw that I could save some money, and they would also put money in it, I jumped in. Who wouldn't want free money? It got to a point where I was starting to be the go-to guy in the office for info on the program and people would ask if they should go into it themselves. I would start telling them about it and then more people would come to me and ask about it, but that was the extent of my financial background,” says Bissett.
“I eventually got laid off from Rogers and the third person I told was my financial advisor, Tina Simpson, a fantastic lady based in Timmins. Honestly, after I told my wife and I told my mom, I just called Tina and explained what happened and after she reviewed my situation she said ‘you're OK, don't stress out you're going to be fine financially for a year.”
Bissett says he enjoyed some downtime and being a stay-at-home dad with his three-year-old daughter at the time, but after about six weeks, a couple of financial places reached out to him with job openings.
“I wasn’t considering that industry because I just spent 16 years being a witty jack-ass on the air and I didn't think there were a lot of transferable skills, but clearly there are some similarities and so I danced around it for a couple of weeks and eventually decided on Freedom 55 Financial because they had the best value proposition,” he says.
Bissett says that the company paid for training and helped new comers get their licenses. He says he went all in on learning about the industry, studying for tests and eventually came out with a positive first year as an advisor and says all the skills he learned over the years in radio were a big reason for having being able to hit his targets.
“When you're talking about an event such as the CIBC Run for the Cure, it's not when and where it takes place that gets people invested in it. It’s ‘why should you care about being part of the community event? Why should you want to take part and raise funds and how does it help people?’ Now flip that to talking about critical illness insurance. Critical illness insurance is something that can help prevent someone’s biggest financial worries from happening in the case of a life-altering sickness. And it’s breaking down what those worries are and how can we create a plan to help make sure that stress isn’t there. Why and how does CI help solve what you’re worried about? That’s what’s important.”
Bissett says a career in the financial industry has been very rewarding and says he chalks up his success to his people skills and work ethic.
“If you don't have both of those you have a pretty big disadvantage starting out,” he says.
“A lot of people think it's a numbers game, and there is that aspect, but there are also professionals who an advisor works with that specialize in that part of the business. As much as I'm running this business, I'm not the only person involved. There are experts in every field that I have contact with, whether it's insurance, investments or savings, or specific fund management. My job as an advisor is to know you as a client, and as a person, and what you want. What drives you, what are your goals? I can't learn and understand any of that if I'm staring at a calculator while we're talking.”
Bissett adds for anyone considering a career as an advisor, they have to be prepared to know it will be an uphill climb through the first couple of years.
“A lot of people will come in and they're promised $100,000 in their first year and that's just not going to happen, or, I should say, it's exceedingly rare. I know of one person who did that in his first year as an advisor, and that's it. So it's probably not going to happen. You also have to understand how quickly your relationship with people can change when you're in this business,” he says.
“One of the things they teach you is to contact your family and friends and sit down with them first, even if they don't want anything you offer, just sit down with them to practice getting in front of people and doing the job. I was shocked at who said ‘not interested and how they said it. You're going to get cases where you just feel beaten down, so thick skin is also pretty good especially earlier on in your career.”
Bissett says one of his approaches to building his client base has been talking about strategies and situations through online videos (https://fb.watch/h_RSiZCICu/ ).
“I want to talk about stuff and make videos that my ideal clients are going to find relevant. I want to work predominantly with small families, parents, a couple of kids, and maybe a single parent depending on the situation. People in their mid-30s with two kids who want to make sure their kids don't get slapped with a ton of OSAP debt for instance,” he says noting that there are a lot of people online who just give out financial advice that people should be leery about.
“The scary part is, some of the information is not necessarily wrong but they'll make blanket statements for everybody such as ‘here's what you need for retirement,’ but that’s not right. Everybody's financial situation is different, and advice needs to be approached that way. There's no accountability for unlicensed “Finfluencers”, there's no repercussion if you follow their advice and if it turns out to be wrong, the reaction is “oh well” from those people online. ‘Sorry you lost your retirement savings in crypto’ and there's nothing you can do about it. So, you have got to be careful when searching for a licensed professional,” says Bissett.