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If you are a seasoned professional who is starting a second career as a financial advisor, the change can be daunting. After all, making a mid-life career change is like reinventing yourself. But unlike young advisors, you probably have a wealth of experience from another field that can help you earn your clients’ trust and build your book.

What you may lack in direct experience in your new career is made up for by the knowledge you gained working in another field. And the connections you have made in your past career put you in the enviable position of having a network of potential clients.

Your experience buys you strength and credibility among prospects, says Julie Littlechild, founder of Absolute Engagement in Toronto. “They want to think you’re on the same side of the table with them.”

Littlechild offers four ways to leverage your previous experience to launch your advisory business:

1. Inform your immediate network
Even if you prefer to break sharply from your past profession, it pays to let your former colleagues and clients know where you’re headed next. Instead of starting from scratch to find prospects, drawing on your network can be a starting point. This strategy can lay the groundwork for cultivating a niche.

“Don’t give in to the temptation to completely dissociate,” Littlechild says. “Really draw on the benefits you have. That’s the low-hanging fruit.”

For example, she says, those LinkedIn groups you participated in to exchange ideas could be a source of potential prospects and referrals.

2. Map out ideal clients
Consider whether you want to carve a niche that appeals to your peers from your previous career. Your “preferred client” base could be drawn primarily from your peer network — or it could be entirely different. In any case, determining your target market at the outset is crucial.

“You’re going to have to do some honest thinking about what you loved about your previous role,” Littlechild says. That will help you to determine the types of clients you want to serve.

3. Recognize the value of your transferrable skills
When you start a new job, there’s always a learning curve — whether you’ve changed companies or moved into a new field altogether. And while you may not yet have all the technical skills required in your new job, you are bound to have other skills that are relevant to your new gig.

“You’re going to have to assess your existing bank of skills,” Littlechild says, “and not make the assumption that you have nothing.”

For example, a former job as a policy analyst could serve as an entry point for helping clients put political developments in context as they relate to their financial situation.

4. Contribute to an industry publication
To market your unique set of skills as an advisor who seeks to serve the financial needs of former peers, consider writing about your experience, Littlechild says. Alternatively, you can run webinars that demonstrate your ability to understand their circumstances from an advisor’s perspective.

You will show members of your niche that “this is someone who speaks their language,” Littlechild says.

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