How to Become a CSA in Wealth Management, My Thoughts and Opinions on the Job
So, this post on how to become a CSA in Wealth Management, as well as some of the ins and outs of the job, is I think going to be something of an extremely long blog post. And while I typically write posts on this website that are something like 800 to 1500 words in length, I am shooting for more like the golden range of 3,000 to 4,000 words on this one, as this is a topic that I am both extremely knowledgeable and passionate about. If you have any sort of interest in the fields of Finance, Business, Insurance, Accounting or Sales, there is a job for you in Wealth Management, and better yet a career. The best way that I have found to not only move up in the field of Wealth Management, but also to get your foot in the door, is by becoming a Client Services Associate, also known in the industry as a “CSA.”
This is the best job that I have ever had, and I have been a CSA at one of the big firms for about the last 2 years, I have learned much and have stretched my abilities out in every possible way, my study abilities and abilities to absorb information quickly, my people skills, my discipline, work ethic and perseverance, and all along the way have significantly improved my resume and my financial situation, as well as my general experience about the field of Finance in a major way. One of the hardest parts about being a CSA however, is getting your foot in the door, followed by pushing through the kind of rough patch where you really don’t know what’s going on.
Adjusting to the fast pace and riskiness of the Wealth Management career also takes a really long time, and the learning curve is pretty vast from when you first start the job to say when you are 12 to 24 months into the field. Like I said, I am really glad to be a CSA in Wealth Management, the job security is pretty good as long as you keep your U4 clean, the ability to move around or hop firms is pretty solid if you want to move to another location, or hop jobs etc. and I can firmly say that it is the most difficult, yet also probably the most rewarding thing that I have ever done in my life so far. And so, in this blog post, I’ll show you how to get your foot in the door and how to become a CSA, and of how you can make a name for yourself in the field. Read on or subscribe to our blog for additional details and information.
How to Become a CSA in Wealth Management, Getting your Foot in the Door
So, generally this is the hard part, however recently I have seen a surplus of people that have almost no difficulty whatsoever getting their foot in the door at kind of an alarming rate. I have also found, that from the alarming number of low quality resumes that have came across our desk in the past month or so however, that competition for these jobs is actually somewhat low once you already have your foot in the door. Take a candidate with any type of Finance experience, like some basic Financial Analyst experience, or with just some introductory licenses, like the SIE or the Series. 63 that do not require sponsorship, and you will quite possibly have him at the top of the pile or entry level CSA positions. Something I can’t believe is the huge volume of resumes that are from newbies or inexperienced average Joes, in such a difficult field that pays $50,000 to $90,000 per year depending on experience.
So, with all this being said, here are a few things that you can do to make your resume stand out, short of work experience, to help you get your foot in the door.
- Pass the SIE
- Take the Enrolled Agent Exam
- Become a Notary
- Pass the Series 63 Exam
- Take the 2-15 Exam
- Take the 2-20 Exam
These are some low hanging fruit that you can grab in order to make yourself stand out among the pile of resumes. Take my advice on this and get all of these certifications, and you’ll see for yourself just how far you can go in the field of Wealth Management.
How to Get over the Rough Patch of Being a CSA, Learning the Job
So, I won’t lie to you, getting your foot in the door as a CSA is very difficult. It takes months of interviewing with a lot of rejections, and it takes another 1-2 months for the background check, employment verification, fingerprinting and administrative processing to go through once you’ve been made a verbal offer. Getting in however, as I would soon learn, is actually the easy part. Learning the job of a CSA is very difficult when you first start, albeit it is extremely rewarding, and once you get all the licenses and are well trained and good at the job (say 18 to 24 months from starting) you can actually just coast in a lot of parts of the job, and it becomes like a regular clockwork 9 to 5. Before this however, the training is somewhat rigorous, and there will be ebbs and flows to the job that just never go away. I have created a bulletpoint list of how my experience was in terms of learning the job, because there is something of a grace period the first month or so that you’re there, and then after that they throw you to the wolves. Here’s the timeline of what this job will look like:
- Day 1 to Day 90 = Grace Period, learn the job, have your fair share of errors, this is your time to learn and adjust to the new gig.
- Days 90 to Month 9 = Pressure will gradually build as you start to become more efficient and competent at the job. With this, raises and licenses will also come. At about the 6 month mark (or sooner) you should aim to have the SIE, 7 and 66, and from here, to become a notary and get the 2-15 on your own. It’s around here where you may have to start working overtime also, in order to start learning the more difficult parts of the job until you learn and adapt to how your advisor teams tick.
- Months 9 to 18 = In my experience, this is where they start to put you on overdrive, which is good for you in the Long run and is how you become a full fledged CSA. By now, you are fully licensed and can place any type of unsolicited trade. They’ll notice you becoming more efficient and will start to put more pressure on you. At first, you will feel like you are drowning pretty much all the time, push through this rough patch however (including anything that comes with it, I’ve had some rough fires that I had to put out during this time period of my career personally) and you should be able to hit something of a stride, getting you to the 18 month to 2 year mark and leaving you with enough skills, resources, resume capital, references, runway and political capital, that you can make your own way for what could possibly be the rest of your life.
- Months 18 to 2 years and beyond – Congratulations if you’ve made it to this point. If you have made it this far, you have likely had your fair share of blunders, of nerves, of tough conversations, of stressful moments where it seemed like time had stopped, and of amazing wins that made it all worth it. You’ll look back on your journey at this point once in a while and realize that not only are you about 50 times more efficient than when you started, and 10 times more efficient than you were just 6 months ago, but that nothing really phases you any more, and that you have really started to enjoy the job of a Wealth Management Associate. You are now a Financial Professional, you can go to any firm you want, although if you stayed in the game this long at one firm you probably won’t want to leave since you’ve built up such a large amount of salary, political capital, momentum and friendships. You are comfortable where you are at, and you start to have options for the future, including maintaining job security, taking on more advisors, negotiating for a raise, hopping jobs or locales should you so choose, and the like. As far as Wealth Management goes, as long as you keep that U4 clean, the world is yours, so keep on trucking and enjoy the spoils of war.
How Much Money You can Make as a CSA
So, when you first start your job as a CSA, you’ll be looking at somewhere in the $45,000 to $55,000 range. From here, sky is truly the limit. You won’t make Financial Advisor money as a CSA, but you will break the $75,000 per year range within the first year, and you will likely hit something like $100,000 per year + in total compensation at your 10 year and on range. Stay put as a CSA for 10 years or more and you have the option of becoming a portfolio manager or a wealth strategist (going the Financial Advisor/sales route), or of becoming a compliance monkey and possibly moving yourself up to management, having you hit the $150,000 to $200,000+ range or more.
How to Get the Licenses for Becoming a CSA
The SIE is not bad, it is kind of the entrance exam into the field, study for 4-6 weeks on this until you are practice testing in the 80s consistently and you should be fine to pass the test. The 7 is a completely different animal, and is about 4x harder than the SIE. I would give yourself 8 weeks for this one, 4 weeks to read the manual and another 4 weeks to take practice tests every single day, this will get you to where you need to be and will make sure you pass the test on the first too. The 66 is another animal entirely than this, and I have known CSA’s that were making $100,000 per year+ that just could not pass this test no matter how hard they tried. The 66 is the Wealth Management equivalent of the bar exam, and it is difficult indeed, take 10 weeks or so for this one and make darn sure you are hitting 85’s on all the tests for this one. Word of advice on these licenses also, pass all of them on the first attempt. Not too many people do this from what I heard, and it looks really good to your employer to pull this off.
Other Career Fields You Can Pivot To
Once you are licensed in the field of Wealth Management you can pivot to things like AML, retail banking, Financial Planning, Accounting, Investment Management, Financial Analysis, Credit Analysis, Fixed Income Analysis, and the like. Your resume will stand out no matter where you go in the field of Finance, and if you start diversifying your Financial certificates by going for things like the Certified Fraud Examiner certification, the CFP, the CFA, the CPA, or even a BA in Accounting and some other general certifications, you will find yourself in a fantastic position to make some serious money in the field of Finance. Get the 7 and 66 licenses at any cost, they are gold in terms of how they set you up for higher paying jobs, as well as job mobility down the road.
How Fast Paced a Typical Day is, vs a Tax Season Day or a Stressful Day
A typical day can be anywhere from making you so anxious you want to quit, to so bored that you could take a nap and still have time To get all your work done. Most days are somewhere in the middle of the two of these extremes, with the frequency of each differing depending on what season you are in. Busy season for Wealth Management is typically Spring, followed by kind of a slow lag period in the Summer, typically starting around June (last year was something of an exception due to tax day being pushed back) and then having it pick back up again in the fall. The pace will change day to day, and it is a job that always keeps you on your toes, and that’s true whether you are remote or in the office.
My Overall Thoughts on Being a CSA
Overall, I have found that when I go to bed at night, or when I have a three day weekend and finally have a moment to pause and reflect on the job, I realize that it is a very rewarding career track, and that it is by far the most challenging thing that I have ever done. It is always a challenge no matter what day it is, but with a little hard work, it is a beatable challenge, and one that makes you a lot more well rounded and experienced in just about every single area. I have found that this job has improved my people skills, my overall work ethic, my ability to push through difficulties, my ability to strategize, my ability to think, my ability to work under pressure, and the like. I have become much more able to perform well under pressure due to this job, and have learned so much along the way that I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Why I Love Wealth Management, But Why It Will Turn Your Hair Grey!
While all of the above and more is true with regards to the good parts of the job, the bad and the stressful parts of the job can and will turn your hair grey at a much younger age than normal should you decide to run the course of this career track. The phone calls, the late night text messages and cell phone calls with urgent task reminders, the late nights and early mornings putting speeches and reports together for a meeting, and everything in between will most likely leave you spent at the end of the day, and it is definitely something that can bring you to your knees from time to time should you let it. Use your vacation time wisely and try to be as proactive as possible, those are my recommendations to you for surviving Wealth Management in a nutshell.
Final Thoughts on How to Become a CSA in Wealth Management, and Why I Love This Job
So, that’s pretty much the process of becoming a CSA in Wealth Management from scratch. To be completely honest, it looks like most people start this job right out of college, but should you be already decorated in another field, like Accounting or like Computer Science, or AML, or retail banking or Insurance Sales, and are not liking the job security or are looking for a change, it may be time to explore the CSA position of Wealth Management, your experience and work ethic will benefit you greatly, and you’ll have the chance to develop an awesome specialization that can make you invaluable to the firm should you run the course. I hope you enjoyed reading, be sure to comment down below and subscribe to our blog for additional details and information. Till next time, you heard it first right here at Inflation Hedging.com.
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