Ron Meder came to be a financial advisor later in life, and only after being pushed out of another career. Now he wishes he'd made the move a lot earlier.
Based in Cincinnati, the 51-year-old veteran salesman joined financial advisor training program at Wells Fargo just eight months ago. Before that, he had worked for the same paper products distributor for 26 years, most of them spent selling plates, napkins and similar goods to small businesses.
He liked the old job--at least at first. But the last 10 years were difficult as he dodged rounds of layoffs and survived several corporate reorganizations. "I dreaded getting up in the morning," he recalls.
Then, one day he went in for what he assumed was a standard performance review. It turned out to be a "separation meeting." His position was being eliminated, he was told.
A severance arrangement gave Meder some time off while his wife Kelly, who works as a legal assistant, continued to help support the couple and their three children. But a year of leisure turned into boredom, and he realized he needed to get back in the game.
Many brokerage companies will only hire second-career recruits these days, says Mindy Diamond, president of Chester, N.J.-based search firm Diamond Consultants. "They want folks with some gray hair and life experiences," she says.
Meder found a Wells Fargo posting on LinkedIn and applied. After a series of interviews and exams ensued, he landed the job.
Meder says the company liked him not just for his professional experience but also for, among other things, his contacts. Many of those are approaching retirement age.
Meder worked through his initial "apprentice" training period at the company and also passed the Series 7 and 66 exams. Meder has a strong interest in finance and studied accounting as an undergraduate, which he says helped as he studied up on the industry and its products.
He quickly reached out to friends, former coworkers and business owners he used to call on in the paper business. Those relationships helped him exceed the training program's requirement of signing 12 new accounts in 12 weeks.
In fact, he won a trainee bonus for opening at least 24 accounts. "Getting that bonus was always my goal," he says.
Now he's set up a networking group that meets for lunch monthly, and is hoping this will provide introductions to other small-business owners who could become clients. He's also targeting people who are in career transitions like he's gone through, and who would want to roll over their 401(k)s and do more extensive retirement planning.
Meder says the motivation and energy it takes to seek out new advisor clients is much like that needed in his old job. But there is a bigger need for trust, relationship-building and time. "This isn't a transaction based-decision based mostly price," he says.
His advice to other professionals looking to make a switch: Have a love for sales, a keen interest in finance and a desire to help improve clients' financial futures. A willingness to put in the extra hours needed to learn the industry and build a business is crucial, he adds.
He says he knew he made the right move when his 14-year-old son recently looked at him and said, "Dad, you look a lot happier."
"I should have switched 10 years ago," Meder says.
Veronica Dagher is a reporter for Dow Jones Newswires, where this story originally appeared. Write to her here.