From service to civilian

How Raymond James helped Justin Kissner realize a fulfilling career as a financial advisor

Unlike most financial advisors, Justin Kissner began his financial planning career in the military helping soldiers manage their finances.

“It’s not very glamorous; you don’t build a practice. You’re given a set amount of clients – a captive audience – and do more financial readiness with soldiers. You’re making sure that they understand the basics of finance and how it works when they’re deployed or at home, and coaching them about how to stay out of debt.”

While financial planning within the military looks a little different from a traditional advisory practice in civilian life, for Justin Kissner, it was a natural direction for him to continue in once he had finished his service with the U.S. Army.

When it came time to choose a firm to partner with, it was the Advisor Mastery Program (AMP) that made Raymond James stand out from the crowd as a firm that would provide the support he needed to get a successful business off the ground.

“I think what makes Raymond James unique is how much they care about your personal success. They’re truly willing to do whatever they can to help.”

“Between mentor trainees at the home office and in your own office, the programs that they set up, the home office visits, all of the training programs and the meetups with your peers and in your area – I mean, they invest a lot of time and energy to try and help you get off the ground. And I think that’s very different from the typical sink-or-swim mantra that you hear elsewhere in our industry.”

With AMP’s open and collaborative format, Justin has had a chance to develop alongside his peers and with the tailored guidance of a mentor.

“You’re not pitted against each other in a team structure or incentivized to work against one another. I think that working together and using combined experiences is a huge benefit of the program.”

Having come from an Army background, Justin knows the importance of having a mentor and, through AMP, he’s gotten that support system and sounding board to help him each step of the way as he develops his business and grows as an advisor.

“My mentor is fantastic. I would say that we are friends first, but also have a mentor/mentee relationship.” Justin and his mentor happen to be closer in age, which has encouraged a relationship that’s one part mentorship, another part peer collaborators.

“We probably talk three or four times a day, whether it’s me seeing how his day is going, him seeing how mine is going or me checking in with certain questions. Beyond mentor/mentee, we’re also peers who just want to make each other better and understand that we each do things a little differently.”

When it comes to further developing his business and role as an advisor, Justin was also thrilled to find support from AMP when he decided to go for the Certified Financial Planner™ professional certification.

“That’s taken me to a whole other level. The CFP® has allowed me to do financial planning in a way that puts clients first, so I can represent Raymond James in a good way. And AMP was flexible in saying, hey, if this is something you want to do, we’re going to help you do it.”

By establishing a solid foundation for his practice with the help of AMP, Justin has been able to focus on a niche that aligns with his personal and professional goals. He recommends other new advisors do the same, especially those practicing independently.

“I think it’s important to find a group of people that you love working with and pursue that. Because when you love what you’re doing, it’s not going to seem like work. I try and work with business owners, and in a certain part of our community in Dunedin, because I love that area. Plus, it allows me to be near family, so I just love being there and it’s easy for me.”

“The other thing I would tell new advisors is to be patient,” he adds. “And if you’re part of a team, be a sponge and learn absolutely everything you can from the people around you with experience.”

As Justin looks to the future, he hopes to have $100 million in assets under management in about five years, while still maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

“In the next 10 years, I would love to be a mentor and make an impact for other people. I’d love to give back to AMP because I feel like it’s given a lot to me.”

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP®(with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.