HOW TO FIND A FINANCIAL PLANNING POSITION AFTER GRADUATION.
Congratulations! You’re on the cusp of graduating from a financial planning program. This is a time for excitement and celebration. Often overshadowing this milestone accomplishment is the fear and stress of finding a position – one that will provide learning opportunities, mentorship, and make you happy. Here’s some tips to find and land your dream position.
DEVELOP A PLAN
Starting your career in financial planning can be confusing and a little overwhelming. Before you start searching for a position, try to establish a list of your ‘must haves’ and your ‘nice to haves’ in a position. It is much easier to get into the right fit if you are have taken the appropriate time to think through what you actually are seeking.
Like with financial planning, you’ll need to identify your personal career goals before developing a plan to achieve them. Do you want to become a lead planner? Are you wanting to do sales or business development? Do you see yourself managing a team in the future? How do you want to interact with clients? Do you see yourself becoming a partner in a firm? The great thing about the career you have chosen is that the possibilities are limitless.
Aspiring financial planners are most successful when they develop clarity around future goals and expectations. Look forward to your career in 5-10+ years. What would have happened for you to look back and say it has been successful? Use this goal focused mindset to identify the path to your goals and inevitable trade-offs you will need to make along the way. We realize that you are likely most concerned with the here and now but keep your mind on the big picture for success in the long game.
The firm you join will have a lasting impact on your planning knowledge, philosophies, and career satisfaction. There is a lot that goes into finding the right firm for you however don’t get overly stressed out and put too much pressure on yourself to find the perfect opportunity, because it may not exist for you, at least right now.
- Firm Size – Large and small firms can vary drastically. As firms get larger, there tends to be increased training and structure, but less flexibility and potential to substantially move the needle to impact change. If you are considering relocation, consider if you would prefer a large firm where you can meet other people or if you can build a social network outside of the office.
- Location – The locations you are targeting will have a substantial impact on the number and quality of opportunities available. Areas that you are familiar with and have familial ties are the safer options and less risky for a firm owner to hire you into. We encourage you to expand your horizons and take a shot at something new as long as you understand the risk to the firm owner is increased if you don’t have any ties to the area. Plan to commit at least 36 months in a new position especially if you relocate.
- Fee-Structure – Understand how any firm is compensated. You can find this information in the Firm’s ADV Part 2 Brochures if they are a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). Explore the motivations behind the firm’s decision and evaluate what truly matters to you. You can learn more about firm compensation here.
- Culture – Identify cultural elements that matter to you. Are you looking for a firm that is team-based? Innovative? Growth minded? Client focused? Ensure your values and standards align with the firm.
- Growth – Opportunities for professional growth are often tied to firm growth. Be sure to ask clarifying questions around what it takes to be promoted and to take on increased responsibility.
- Mentorship – Not all mentorship is equal. Look to the credentialing and industry reputation of the advisors mentoring you. Clarify expectations behind the time devoted to helping you grow as an advisor, and who will be responsible for training. Your mentors should be a loose representation of your future career goals.
- Career Track – Identify the career track that fits your goals. Are you looking to be an employee where you are paid a salary and serve another planner’s clients? Are you entrepreneurial, where you want to build your own business? Are you looking for a combination? Ask yourself where you want to start and grow, then find the firms providing that opportunity.
Entry level positions in financial planning often go by many different names: paraplanner, associate advisor, associate financial planner, financial planning coordinator, and the list goes on and on. There is not uniformity among the naming conventions which contributes to the confusion. As you are evaluating these roles don’t get hung up on the titles, but instead identify the key responsibilities of the position and how they contribute towards your eventual goals.
As an entry level financial planner, determine what responsibilities you would like to do and ensure the firm has the structure to keep you focused on the responsibilities you most enjoy.
- Administrative Tasks – Administrative tasks include answering the phone, copying paperwork, scheduling appointments, and ordering office supplies. They are essential tasks to keeping the firm up and running and clients happy.
- Account Paperwork – In a financial planning firm, paperwork is necessary for many tasks from opening accounts to implementing various planning strategies.
- Client Meetings – Are you looking to be involved in client meetings? If so, will you be observing, taking notes, or presenting ideas and strategies?
- Investment Operations – Investment operations include fund research, placing trades, and rebalancing client portfolios.
- Financial Planning Analysis – Financial planning analyses are the lifeblood of the firm. Clients are working with the firm for their advice and recommendations. Will you input information into planning software, interpret the data, or specialize in a certain planning area?
- Business Development – Do you want to find new clients for your firm? None of the clients we recruit for require any business development if that isn’t your thing. If it is, great you will likely be able to get to where you want to go from a personal income standpoint faster than someone who is more comfortable in a long term back office type role.
- Non-Planning Efforts – You have interests outside of financial planning that can be valuable to the firm such as designing a new brochure, updating the website using your coding skills, or reading a new book to share with clients. Will you have the flexibility to use those interests to contribute towards the firm?
Many firms are looking for candidates with a ‘no job is beneath me’ mindset where they are willing to pitch in wherever needed to help the firm. That said, keep your job description close to ensure you are getting exposure and involvement in the areas you most enjoy.
At New Planner Recruiting, we work nationally with top financial planning focused firms offering salaried positions with mentorship. They are dedicated empowering you to grow towards your professional goals. We help to identify the best firms and positions for you. Here’s a look at some of our current positions seeking upcoming or recent graduates.