A Day in the Life of a Financial Advisor: The Balance

By kelly eggers

Cheesy movies and cruise ships brochures help financial advisor Victoria Collins unwind at the end of a long day.

Collins is the senior managing director at First Foundation Advisors in Irvine, Calif., and after 30 years as a financial advisor -- a career that has brought her many accolades and much success -- she has learned how to balance a busy work schedule with her passions: travel, her eight grandchildren and her husband.

We asked her what it's like having such a long tenure in her position, how she got into the business to begin with, and what advice she has to offer a budding FA looking to take the plunge.

Early to Rise: 5:15 A.M.

Collins's day starts with an energizing hour-long work out. Each day as an FA has potential for crises and much-longer-than-anticipated hours, so she likes to keep on top of the day by starting it with a workout.

Getting Started: 8:00 A.M.

She's in the office by 8:00, checking e-mails, answering urgent calls, and writing her day's to-do list. Every morning, she asks herself the same question: "How can I add value today to my clients, colleagues, my close relationships, and myself?"

Based on her to-do list, Collins shares her morning with any number of people and tasks. Between business development and executive duties, meeting prep or honing in on client services, mornings are a busy time for this FA -- making it all the more important for her to start the day off early.

Lunch Meetings: 12:00 P.M.

Like many FAs, Collins uses her lunch break to do business. "I either eat at my desk while working on a project or go to lunch with attorney, CPA, or other professional or colleague from our firm," Collins said. "I'll also often meet clients for lunch."

Back to the Grind: 1:00 P.M.

After lunch, Collins goes over what she did that morning and keeps notes to stay organized. She spends the rest of the afternoon following up with clients, projects and other to-dos. "It's important to stay current," she said of her afternoon routine of follow-ups.

Me Time: 6:00 P.M.

Unless she's in a meeting, Collins leaves work around 6:00 three evenings a week, and heads to evening activities designed to unwind from a long day. Whether it's a charity event or a dinner with friends, Collins finds time to do anything but work.


FINS: What do you do to unwind at the end of a long day?

Collins: A glass of wine and read the mail. I enjoy going out to dinner with my husband -- it's a great chance to catch up on each other's activities. If it's a very bad day in the market for several days running, I'll want to go to a movie (the more entertaining and mindless, the better). For occasional nights when I can't sleep, I read travel magazines and cruise ship brochures.

FINS: What do you do to decompress when you have time off?

Collins: See friends if the time is short, but if longer, my passion is travel. I can be ready at the drop of a hat. Being with any or all of my eight grandchildren helps me decompress with fun.

FINS: What do you like most about being a financial advisor?

Collins: Adding value by helping clients make sense of their finances, and helping to create and implement a plan to reach financial well-being -- however they define that. I like being able to help problem solve and find solutions. No two cases are ever the same, so I love the challenge of finding ways to add value.

There's good compensation, stimulating work, great colleagues, and never a dull moment.

FINS: What do you most dislike about being a financial advisor?

Collins: The unrealistic expectations about what I can and cannot do. I don't have a crystal ball, and I have to let my clients know that.

FINS: How did you become a financial advisor?

Collins: Survival. The major crisis of divorce made me realize that I need to be both knowledgeable and smart.

FINS: If you had to describe what you do in one line, what would you say?

Collins: I help people make a map to a place called financial well-being, give them a vehicle to get there, and steer them clear of the road bumps along the way.

FINS: What advice would you give someone, either just starting their career or midway through their career, who wants to be a FA?

Collins: Go for it! It's a career that can be both personally satisfying and financially rewarding for someone willing to work hard, provide top service, and follow a personal moral compass at all times.

Write to Kelly Eggers or Jeremy Greenfield

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