At 15, Dan Murphy took a job in a body shop. For almost a decade he worked as a mechanic with no long-term career plan. Within a few years he was married and had two children. It was then that he realized: “I don’t want to be a mechanic for the rest of my life.”
Ambitious by nature, Murphy attended engineering school to improve his body repair skills. He also qualified for special training in repairing Toyota and BMW vehicles.
But at 23, Murphy made a life-changing decision to reinvent himself as a financial planner. In high school, he had enjoyed a stock picking game that a teacher used to introduce students to the stock market. After receiving an inheritance at 18, he enjoyed researching how to invest it.
“I made a commitment,” said Murphy, now an independent consultant in Shoreview, Minn. “I thought, ‘I’ll do that at all costs.'”
Murphy spent the next four years studying personal finance and improving his sales skills. To improve his résumé, he quit working as a mechanic and took a job as a sales manager at a tool dealer.
Meanwhile, he listened to motivational speaker Zig Ziglar’s tapes to learn how to think and act like a top salesman. “You can have anything in life that you want, if you only help enough other people to get what they want,” explained Ziglar. Murphy loved that.
However, despite his positive attitude, Murphy ran into roadblocks. At a major investment firm, the hiring manager heard Murphy’s story, giggled, and showed him the door. He applied unsuccessfully for a few other financial planning jobs. “I’ve spent four years hoping and praying that someone would give me a chance,” Murphy said. “And when someone did it, it changed my life completely.”
Murphy’s entry into the business took place in stages. In his first interview at an Ameriprise Financial branch, the interviewer asked, “How many people do you know who have to invest $ 50,000?” And “How many people do you know who have to invest $ 5,000 a month?”
“I have no high net worth friends,” Murphy replied.
The Ameriprise interviewer suggested applying to the company’s call center that served high net worth clients. During that interview, Murphy was asked experiential questions such as, “Tell me about a time you managed a portfolio.”
“I couldn’t answer those questions because I didn’t have this experience,” Murphy said. “But before I left, I got honest. I said, ‘Look, I don’t have the background that you want. But I’m the kind of person you want If you are looking for someone who surpasses everyone else, then this is me. “
He got the job. It paid $ 30,000 a year plus commission.
For the next six years, Murphy took customer calls and helped resolve their financial concerns. Eventually he moved to an independent broker-dealer and then joined an RIA firm. He is in the process of starting his own company Greater Good Financial, of which he donates 20% of sales to charitable organizations.
“That’s my way of saying, ‘I’m not in for the money,'” he said. “I hope to build trust this way. And I choose charities that give others the opportunity to invest in themselves, as I’ve been looking for in the four years I’ve tried to get into the industry. ”
While Murphy has earned two job titles (Chartered Life Underwriter and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor), ideally he would like to add the most popular one: Certified Financial Planner. But he cannot because the CFP Board of Directors requires a bachelor’s degree or higher to be awarded the title.
“I’ve lost occasionally [a prospect] who asks if I am a CFP, ”he said. “I say no because I don’t have a college degree. I understand the need for a box that people can fit in. But I would change the CFP rules to make them more experience-based. “
In his early years at Ameriprise, Murphy saw many young consultants fail. As fresh college graduates, they thought they’d learn the ropes and make $ 80,000 or more.
“I’ve seen so many of them fail,” Murphy said. “They had financial degrees and some had an MBA. But it’s tough business. It’s a lot of stress. And it really is a sales job. It takes human skills to be successful. “