Two weeks ago (sorry, I was sick last week and had a hard time keeping up with my posting schedule!), I discussed how I started my career in a bank. During the first 3 years of my career, I was able to jump from $30K to $56K (plus a bonus of $9K) so really $65K. From what I can see, the 50-70K range is a nice plateau that is pretty hard to break out of. Once you have made this kind of income, you enter a nice, comfortable, sheltered environment where you think you can establish your family and wait peacefully to retire in 30 years or so. But I am not this type of person. After getting 3 promotions in 3 years, I wanted more. Since I am young, my objective was to make a 6 figure income. While I made some great moves, the hardest part was yet to come…
Go into Sales / Fast Growing Department
Choosing the right type of job is important because you most likely be able to perform if you enjoy your job. Now that you know what you like to do, you need to find one of the following types of departments:
– Sales department
Why sales? Because in any kind of industry, the one bringing the money to the company is the one who puts more in his own pocket. It doesn’t have to be hard core sales per se (for example, I’m a financial planner, not a mutual fund salesman) but you need to work in a lucrative department. Cost centers (like an admin department for example) will never generate great bonuses and important income raises. Why? Because they are necessary for the business but don’t generate revenue. So if you have a clerical position, you are better off doing it in a sales dept than in an admin center. You will have a better salary or bonus while doing a very similar job…
– Fast growing department
If you are not in a money generating department, you need to seek out a fast growing department. Look for new departments or expansions of an existing company. Here again, if it’s new, you are starting on an equal step with everybody else on the floor. If you are ready to hustle and improve your working environment, promotions will follow much faster. I was lucky when I started my career as I joined both a money generating department that was recently opened. The result? I got promotions 3 years in a row.
Work on your Next Step
I told you already about my uncle who used to ask me questions about my future. He used to always ask me where I wanted to be in 5 years. Well this question should be answer at every level; personal, business, career. Once you know where you want to be in 5 years, you can work your goals into a 5 year plan. For each year, you need to have smart goals.
At the beginning of my career, I didn’t know how to do this. My boss helped me (because I asked him to!). After 2 years working for him, I knew that I wanted to continue my career in finance. This is when I started to look at all the possible positions higher than mine that were available in the finance industry. It took a while to see which type of career I wanted but I had finally decided to go… on to the management side!
Get some Accreditation
Before deciding to go on the management side, I was guided by my boss to get my financial planning title. The point at that time was to get some more accreditation while I was working. Once you master your job, you have more time and energy to concentrate on something else. This is why I was studying on my lunch hour and at night while everybody was sleeping. Over 4 years, I earned my financial planning title (which is a university certificate degree + a professional exam) plus I did my MBA (in order to go into management).
During the same period of time, I have decided to move into the branch network and get a financial planner position. I really enjoyed it and put my management ambitions on the shelf to pursue what I really like; helping clients manage their money. However, the titles I earned help me in 2 ways:
a) I have more credibility from my employer and clients
b) I was able to negotiate more raises since my employer values education. Each diploma is worth a few thousands more in revenue increases!
Aim for 200%
Doing 100% is not enough if you want to reach 6 figures in 5 years. Aim for 200%. I was not always able to do it but I was always be close enough that my boss (and my boss’ boss) were pretty impressed. 200% results come with great bonuses and chances to have more promotions. The first year when I got my 200% as a financial planner, I hit the 6 figure income at the age of 28… so exactly 5 years after I entered in the firm. Since then, I have maintained this high level of performance… and this high level of income!
Compare and Ask
If you are continuously working on improving your department, that you get diplomas and your results are way above the average; it is time that you sit down at the table and start negotiating. I wrote an interesting piece a while back ago on how to get an income raise. By comparing my peers and asking for what they make (or more), I was able to get 3 raises in the same year (see the post for more details).
The key here is to build a file on your income raise with rational reasons. Write down your achievements, your diplomas and your success among your team. Don’t ask for a raise because you are good, ask for a raise because you have shown that you are able to deliver more than expected and your salary should also be more than expected.
Final Thoughts on Fast Growing Income
You know what? If you really work hard on growing your income, you will definitely achieve it as I did. However, I must put a big warning sticker on this article: you will never get enough. Making money is cool, making more money is cooler, so what about making more and more money every year? This is where the catch is. You need to slow down at one point and be happy with what you have. I have worked very hard during 5 years but now I just want to keep my 6 figures income for the moment. I really enjoy life with my wife and kids think that family is the most important thing.
If you have any other questions on how I reach the 6 figure level that fast, let me know, it will be my pleasure to answer back to you ;-).
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