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What It’s Like to Work as a Financial Planner

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A financial planner working with clients on a plan for their finances.

Entering a career in financial services can offer plenty of opportunities for advancement and high earning potential. Some professionals work as financial advisors while others choose to work as financial planners. While the titles sound the same, there are some differences in what a financial planner job entails.

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What Is a Financial Planner?

Financial planners are individuals who help people create comprehensive plans for reaching their financial goals. A financial planner may hold a specific professional credential, such as the CFP mark or designation as a chartered financial analyst (CFA).

In terms of what they do, financial planners work with their clients to help them get from point A to point B. Their client list can individuals, families, business owners and even nonprofits who need help shaping their financial plans. Financial planners can cover a range of topics, including:

  • Budgeting and saving
  • Debt management
  • Estate planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Tax and insurance planning

A financial planner looks at the entirety of their client’s financial situation to propose solutions for reaching their goals. They can also help develop alternatives to the plan when a client undergoes a significant life change such as a marriage, divorce or the birth of a child.

Financial Planner vs. Financial Advisor

The terms ‘financial planner’ and ‘financial advisor’ are often used interchangeably but they don’t mean the same thing exactly. Both are used to refer to professionals who offer financial advice to clients, but they can perform their duties differently.

A financial planner may discuss investing with a client in the context of risk tolerance or how much they need to invest monthly or annually to reach their goals. A financial advisor, on the other hand, may focus their advice exclusively on specific categories of investments, such as mutual funds or real estate investment trusts (REITs).

It’s also worth noting that the process for becoming a financial planner differs from what’s required to become an advisor. As mentioned, a financial planner may choose to pursue designation as a certified financial planner (CFP), but they’re not required to do so. Becoming a CFP means obtaining the necessary education and professional experience, and successfully completing the CFP exam.

If, however, a financial planner or advisor plans to give investment advice to clients they must register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or their state regulatory agency. They may also need to hold a specific securities license, such as a Series 7, Series 63, Series 65 or Series 66 license to sell certain investments.

Financial Planner Job Duties

A financial planner walks a new coworker through day-to-day job duties.

What does a day in the life of a financial planner look like? It can depend on whether you’re already certified as a financial planner or if you’re still working toward certification. Here’s a typical example of what a financial planner’s daily round might include:

  • Prospecting. If you’re working on growing your business, you may spend a sizable chunk of each day generating new leads. You might do that by cold calling or emailing, reaching out to current clients to ask for referrals or drafting direct mail marketing campaigns.
  • Meeting with clients. Of course, being a financial planner means meeting with clients or at a minimum, checking in on them with phone calls and emails. You may schedule in-person meetings with clients three days a week and reserve one day for virtual meetings, leaving the fifth day free to handle administrative and back-end tasks.
  • Marketing. Marketing is a little different from prospecting since it usually involves a distinct set of activities. For example, your marketing plan might include creating content for social media, writing blog posts or being a guest on a financial planning podcast.
  • Networking. Networking is important for growing your financial planning business and you might spend part of your day emailing contacts or attending networking events. You could also include PR outreach or community outreach here.
  • Administrative tasks. If you’re running your financial planning business solo or with a limited staff, you may spend part of your day handling back office duties such as replying to emails, organizing new client onboarding paperwork or handling accounting. Outsourcing can save you time so you can focus on growth activities for your business.

As mentioned, you may need to block off some time in your day for study if you’re preparing for the CFP exam. The CFP Board recommends at least 250 hours of study to ensure the greatest odds of success.

How to Find a Financial Planner Job

There are several ways to find financial planning jobs, whether you’re just getting started in your career or changing employers. Here are five common resources to find a job as a financial planner:

  • CFP Board Career Center. The CFP Board’s Career Center features financial planner job listings. You can filter jobs by role, location, salary range, experience level or employer type.
  • LinkedIn. LinkedIn can be a great option for finding a financial planning job. You may find job opportunities through people in your network or by browsing the Jobs board. You can also indicate in your profile whether you’re open to receiving job offers or invitations to apply.
  • Online job boards. Online job boards are another place you might look for in-house or remote financial planning job openings. Some of the most frequently used job boards include Indeed.com, Monster.com and Simply Hired. Simply Paraplanner features listings for remote and virtual financial planning jobs.
  • Financial planning firm websites. If there’s a particular company you’re interested in working for, you might check its website for job openings. They might be listed on a Careers page where you can view details of the role and learn how to apply.
  • Word of mouth. Your network is another source you might tap for leads on a financial planning job. There may be someone in your circle who knows of a job opportunity that you may be a good fit for that could offer a referral.

How to Get Hired for Financial Planning Jobs

Finding a job opening for financial planners is the first step; applying for it is where the real challenge may begin. The financial services industry is competitive, so you’ll need to make a great impression.

Here are three practical tips to stand out when applying for a financial planner job:

  • Review the requirements. The first thing you’ll want to do is read through the job listing a couple of times to understand what the hiring firm is looking for. The goal is to see how well your experience and education line up. Remember, though, that you don’t need to be a 100% match to apply if you believe that you might be suited for the role.
  • Fine-tune your resume. Your resume may be short on work experience if you’ve only recently graduated, so you may need to highlight other skills or achievements to wow hiring managers. The goal is to find the points that you can use to sell yourself, and then play them up as much as possible.
  • Do your research. If you’re selected for an interview, learn as much as possible about the company beforehand. You want to show that you’re knowledgeable and know how to take the initiative, as well as enthusiastic about working there should you be hired.

Bottom Line

A woman searching online for a financial planner job.

If you’re truly passionate about helping people figure out their finances, then a career in financial planning might be right for you. Learning more about what the job involves can help you determine whether it’s a good fit for what you want to achieve professionally.

Tips for Growing Your Advisory Business

  • One of the biggest challenges of starting a financial planning or financial advisory business is finding clients. Maintaining a stable client base while generating a steady flow of new leads is vital to your long-term success. If you’re looking for a simpler way to find leads, you might consider using an online lead generation service. With SmartAdvisor, you can connect with qualified leads and get access to the tools you need to follow up.
  • If you’re launching a new financial planning business, you’ll need a solid strategy for marketing and promotion. Some of the ways you might market yourself as a financial planner include building a following on social media, setting up a professional website and starting an email newsletter. You might also consider investing money in digital ads or doing PR outreach to establish your credibility as a financial planning expert.

Photo credit: ©iStock/ndresr, ©iStock/PeopleImages, ©iStock/eepak Sethi

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