Five Questions with Leslie Pettinelli

June 30, 2017 By Signator Investors





With an ever-changing industry landscape, the career path of each financial advisor is equally diverse. For Leslie Pettinelli of Pettinelli Financial Partners, that path was through marketing. By utilizing her professional experience in this area, including all aspects of event planning, she knew she could make an immediate impact to the business. That opportunity came early on - during her first month she successfully managed four events for the firm!  Now a member of NAIFA and MDRT, she focuses on helping families, small business owners, and inexperienced investors. With a true passion for providing excellent client service, Leslie shares her perspective on her chosen path.

At what point in your career did you decide to transition to an advisor and what factors played into that?

A year into the marketing role, I started participating in client meetings, just observing and taking notes. There were several concepts and products I didn't understand, and I remember thinking how smart our client base was to pick up on the various nuances. When I felt comfortable enough to ask questions during these meetings, I discovered something interesting - while clients had many of the same questions I did, they were hesitant to ask because they didn't want to stop the flow of the meeting, they felt their significant other understood it well enough for both, or they were just intimidated.

By being present and inquisitive, I felt like I improved their client experience and I enjoyed that feeling of making a difference. It got me thinking how I could impact our practice if I got licensed and gained more planning and product knowledge.

What were some of the challenges and advantages in transitioning from marketing to a full-time advisor?

It was a challenge finding the balance between working full-time, studying for exams, and enjoying activities outside the work place. As an advisor, I had to make a conscious decision to delegate some tasks and let go of the marketing responsibilities, which was hard because I truly enjoyed that role.

It was an advantage to observe the business from a big picture perspective, watch the day-to-day operations for each role, and see how they interacted with clients and staff - all of which helped me make an informed decision about what career path I wanted to take.

Our firm works with a lot of families and typically one of the spouses tends to dominate the entire meeting agenda. Starting out as an observer, attentive to client's reactions and behaviors, I developed my own meeting style for a core group of my clients - the inexperienced investors. I make it a point to ask them questions directly, listen to the answers, and ensure their partner gives them an opportunity to speak. Not always an easy task!  I've received countless calls and emails thanking me for this approach. They often request individual meetings without their significant others to review everything at their pace and in an environment where they're most comfortable.

In general, do you think your generation feels differently about the risks/rewards of a career in financial services? 

Absolutely. The younger generation values work/life balance, feeling appreciated, being compensated adequately for their time, and perks. Starting out in this business, none of this is immediate and it takes several years to accomplish. Alternately, if they decide to pursue a career in the start-up world, they can achieve what they value almost immediately. The challenge is getting new graduates to understand the long-term upside potential of financial services when their friend just landed a job, making six figures at a start-up, with as much PTO as they want, free lunch every Friday, and stock options!

Growing up surrounded by successful financial advisors, I understood from the beginning the work that goes into building a thriving business in this industry.

What advice would you give to someone interested in recruiting a junior advisor into a marketing role?

Start small - encourage them to learn about basic financial services concepts and products while they're in the marketing role. Whatever they learn during that time will add value to your business. Approach it as - "Let's enroll you in a Life and Health Class to see if you like it?"  Not, "I think you could be a great advisor, you'll need your Life and Health, Series 6, 63, 65, and eventually, your CFP."  Allow them to observe meetings and gradually participate so they see the importance of building relationships. Observation, client notes, client follow up tasks, and lastly case prep is a good way to start the process.

What is your firm's approach to recruiting and transitioning advisors? 

The whole basis of our business is referrals, and that includes our staff. The bulk of our team came from personal observations, recommendations from clients and existing staff, or family members of clients.

We work hard to identify team members who have a positive attitude, strong work ethic, and a desire to move up. We do our best to help them pick the right career path, understanding that they don't have to rush from marketing to advisor in one or even two years. Starting with one key area of interest and mastering that is a good starting point.

We've been very successful in transitioning the marketing role to the support staff role. We have several advisors in training who will be taking their exams in the next few months!


This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment or tax advice. You are encouraged to discuss your situation with a qualified financial professional bearing in mind your investment objectives, risk tolerance and time horizon.

Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through Signator Investors, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC, Registered Investment Adviser, 200 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116.


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