Financial planning is a unique and attractive profession. It combines the hard science of mathematics with the soft, behavioral aspects of psychology in a manner that is unlike any other profession. The potential impact a trusted advisor can have on their clients, along with the growing demand for their expertise, make entering the profession even more compelling. But how does an aspiring planner join the profession? What steps must be taken to be an attractive candidate for securing entry-level financial planning positions?
The CFP is the gold standard
It’s no longer a debate, the CFP is the standard for financial planning credentials. Becoming a Certified Financial Planner requires completing the appropriate coursework, passing the exam, meeting one of two work experience requirements, and meeting the ethics requirement. Whether you are graduating from a CFP Board registered program, or an experienced professional seeking entry into financial planning, making strides towards the CFP credential is the most direct path to joining a planning centric firm. There are multiple scholarships available, including this one, and resources to help you sit for and pass the CFP exam.
What about licensing?
Aspiring planners often ask us, should I pursue licenses before I land a job in financial planning? While the answer is situation specific, generally it is best to get the CFP completed as soon as possible. If that isn’t an option or you have the time/resources to tackle both, then we encourage pursuing the Series 65 especially if you are seeking to join a fee-only Registered Investment Advisor firm. You can learn more about the Series 65 and its alternatives here.
Standing out in the crowd
Financial planning requires technical knowledge, but it also necessitates strong communication skills. If you are charting your path to becoming a trusted advisor, don’t overlook the opportunities to refine your soft skills. Take a counseling, Psychology, conflict resolution, marriage and family dynamics course at your local community college or online, to navigate the more difficult softer side of planning conversations you will have frequently as a practitioner. Additionally, organizations such as Toastmasters can help build confidence speaking in public or articulating complex ideas. Further, demonstrate follow up by sending timely “thank you notes” to interviewers and mentors you meet along the way and make sure you are constantly expressing your passion for the financial planning profession. Candidates who look good on paper, but lack passion, or cannot effectively communicate their passion, often do not get the best positions with the best firms.
Gain hands on experience
Becoming a trusted advisor requires wisdom that only comes from experience, but often time you have to get hired to gain the experienceHere are a couple of ideas to help you build the foundation while making the transition:
- The Financial Planning Association Externship: This is an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with some of the best planners in the profession, gain software exposure, and earn hours towards the CFP experience requirement.
- Complete an internship: Whether unpaid or low-paid, this can be a great way to gain experience, demonstrate commitment, and find out what it’s like to work in a financial planning firm
- Assist with tax preparation: The VITA program is an excellent way to help members of your community while gaining real world experience. Companies such as H&R Block often hire seasonal tax preparation employees who gain on the job tax training that could prove beneficial in the future.
- Network! The COVID-19 pandemic has made it especially difficult for career changers to make connections in the planning profession. As the pandemic begins to subside, consider attending a Financial Planning Association (FPA) meeting, a conference, or simply find a local CFP and ask to meet them for coffee to discuss the profession.
- Sharpen your technology skills: “Fintech” is a constantly evolving landscape that continues to push the profession forward. You can learn more about the top financial planning software tools here and more about the “tech skills” firm owners are looking for here.
- Interested in an internship program for aspiring Black and Latinx financial planners? Consider the BLX internship program!
If you are an aspiring financial planner and would like to discuss the profession and the best path forward for you, reach out to us at New Planner Recruiting. We are here to help you succeed and are happy to chat with you. Reach out to us today to ensure you are getting started off on the correct path!