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Considering a Financial Planning Career?


Have you ever considered financial advising as a career? The career path has never been more interesting, the opportunities more numerous, nor the prospects for success more evident, than they are now. Why do I say this? American demographics are poised to elevate the profession to new heights, both in quality and quantity.

In the next several years, a massive amount of wealth will be transferring hands, as Baby Boomers are inheriting assets from aging parents, and Boomers themselves are retiring. Financial advising and wealth management as a career should be viewed as an opportunity to participate in the orderly transition of an estimated $31 trillion of wealth between generations over the next few decades.

I have spent many years in the financial services arena, following decades in non-financial businesses, during which I was on the client side of the table. My perspective on the subject is well-rounded and seasoned.

After years of preparation and study, I have come to one simple conclusion. If you want to be successful as an advisor, be the one that you would like to hire for yourself. In order to do so, you need to think about what topics are important to people. Then, you should become competent in each and every one of them.

A good overview of relevant topics is on the Certified Financial Planner Board website, www.letsmakeaplan.org. From there, you can learn the areas of financial planning that make up a comprehensive financial life and/or career. A good advisor will have to know a good deal in each and every topic area.

What would your ideal advisor bring to the table? Education is important, and the least I would consider is an undergraduate college degree. A Masters Degree or higher would be even better. Likewise, certain certifications prove that the advisor respects the clients, and the CFP mark is the hallmark of certifications. Experience counts, as it does in all endeavors, and should be a consideration. Getting experience is perhaps the hardest part in a young advisor’s career.

What kind of advisor would you like to be? Are stocks and the stock market the only arena in which you care to dwell? If so, become a stockbroker, but become an outstanding stockbroker. Is insurance your thing? If so, become an excellent insurance agent. Are you interested in overall financial planning, touching on all aspects of clients’ financial lives? If so, consider becoming a Certified Financial Planner through a long process of education, experience and ethics. You will need to pass what will likely become the most difficult exam of your life.

Whatever you decide, work to honor your customers or clients (and yourself) by being as good as you can be. People who choose to specialize in only one area of financial services do not, in my opinion, qualify to be called true Financial Advisors. Only a broad-based, wide knowledge of financial topics, coupled with completion of the certification program, would be satisfactory to me as a client.

Remember the old commercial that said, “We are NOT your father’s stockbroker?” Now you should understand why that became popular.

Van Wie Financial is fee-only. For a reason.