I have never worked a commission based job before. Every job I have ever had was based upon me trading my time for money. Now, I need to generate some sales and service to make an income. The time that I spend on that is actually irrelevant. It is possible to spend hours and hours during a week and not generate any potential income, or if I am lucky, I could generate a month’s worth of income in one or two meetings. That’s just kind of the nature of the beast.

Ultimately, like anyone running a business, it is up to me to generate a clientele. Because I don’t have the capital set aside to open my own office, nor the time to slowly let potential clients trickle in, I have to talk to my natural market. A natural market essentially is just going through a list of people I know. Since I a living in an area where I didn’t grow up, lack family, spent time in an all consuming job, I have a very limited natural market. Not only is my natural market numerically limited, many are not at a place in their lives to really focus on financial matters.

The other problem I have is that I am new to this profession. Sure I have been interested in finances for several years now, and have taken control of my own retirement and insurance needs, but that doesn’t mean someone else is going to necessarily trust me with their financial information. Money issues just isn’t something most people want to talk about. Then someone new asking to talk about it just makes it worse. So I am relying almost exclusively on the trust I have built up from previous relationships. For the most part that means I am asking former students, who knew me as a math teacher, to trust me when it comes to financial protection and investments.

I feel kind of awkward contacting people I have been out of touch with for at least a year or more to meet with me to just chat, but I know it is a habit I have to get used to. Last week I was able to meet with four people, and I was filled with anxiety going into these meetings. I am basically asking to meet with people who got to know me as teenagers, in a teacher-student relationship, to know come and view me as more of a peer. I was worried that these would be extremely awkward.

Awkwardness wasn’t the case though. I was surprised at how comfortable it was, and how much I appreciated meeting former students to find out what is going on in their lives. One thing I was warned about at training, make sure coffee chats are productive, that they aren’t dead ends. Well, two of my four meetings were business dead ends, but personally they were not. I hope I don’t lose sight of that moving forward, that there is value to a simple human relationship, even if there is no potential for money to be involved.

I went kind of slow the first week, but now I need to step up my pace and meet with some people. I will be sending out a bunch of messages out tomorrow, to just find out if people are willing to visit with me.

However, if you happen to read this, and are in the Tiffin area, and would like to meet, please fill out the contact form. I could use all the help I can get.

Why Financial Services

After 12 years in education, I decided that I needed to try something different. I have thrown caution to the wind, and have jumped into the financial services industry full bore. What led me to believe that this was the right field for me? Let me explain.

First, I believe that I have a mind with an analytical bent.

I like to analyze things, especially anything that can be quantified. Record keeping, budgeting, compliance, and cash flow analysis as the local education association treasurer was strangely exciting. Using past history to make a budget and prediction to fund a class trip while running the concession stand at my school was very gratifying. Reviewing data from the insurance consortium to provide an explanation of increased insurance premiums was invigorating.

This is not me trying to facetious. The part of my mind that led me to become a MATH teacher enjoys challenging, abstract problems to solve.

Maybe I could work in an analytics department of a major corporation, or become an actuary. I have read that the large insurance firms have good training for actuaries, and will hire general math majors.

But the problem with those types of positions is the lack of interaction with people. One of the aspects I enjoyed most about teaching is cultivating relationships. I especially enjoy cultivating that relationship if it is centered around something that someone has shown genuine interest. For two years I taught a personal finance math class, which is when my interest in financial services was piqued. I liked researching the financial topics covered in class, and I really enjoyed explaining them to students. I really began to wonder if this is something I could do. Could I take my love of the abstract, and turn it into a pathway to assist people with their own finances?

This summer I decided now was the time to find out. And there were several other logistics that pushed me in the direction of financial services.

First, I have no career network. School has been my life, so the only other people I know are former students and teachers. Couple my limited network with the knowledge that many jobs that are filled are never posted to the public, spelling doom to many outside career opportunities.

Second, the jobs posted online or in newspapers often get hundreds of applications. The jobs that require online applications will typically use software to sort applications. Coming from teaching, my application experience probably didn’t contain many of the key words needed for the position. Consequently, my application could have been being tossed out by screening software.

Third, it seems like every employer out there wants someone who can step into a job and be productive immediately, without any training. Entry level positions that offer training were nearly impossible to find. It seemed like even the entry level spots expected candidates to undergo job specific training in college.

I don’t have a natural network, don’t have the right key words on my resume, and can’t find any paid training.

Luckily for me, the barrier to entrance into the financial services industry is incredibly low. Of course with a low barrier to entry, and marketing of “unlimited earning potential,” the burnout rate in the profession is even worse than the teaching I am leaving behind.

Maybe this will work, maybe it won’t. Right now I am going to give it a try. On Monday, I became an official representative. Now it is up to me to make this work.