A day in the life:
As the Director of a financial planning firm my role involves ongoing client care and reviews, new client meetings and strategy development, staff supervision and training, compliance and quality management, marketing both online and traditional, practice management, community service and financial literacy promotion, blogging and article writing, and industry advocacy work.
I often work 10 – 12 hour days and weekends, but I love all my roles, I learn everyday and I am never bored.
Study and training:
I studied the Foundation Diploma of Financial Planning through the Financial Planning Association via Deakin University, then the Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning via Kaplan. However if I was starting over, I would enrol in a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Financial Planning.
Your “foot in the door” moment?
The study is essential, but only partially prepares you for a role as a financial planner. I worked in banking and insurance prior to studying financial planning, then worked as an administrator in financial planning and accounting for 3 years prior to commencing my role as a Financial Planner.
I think it is vital to gain some experience in some areas of the industry outside of a financial planning firm prior to becoming a planner, such as banking, insurance, administration and client service.
Good Financial Planners are just as good at people skills and communication as they are at financial and technical skills. It is one of those occupations where you need to be good at people and numbers in order to be able to do the calculations and have the knowledge required but also be able to influence and communicate well with the clients. There is no point in having great strategic skills if you can’t actually help the client to understand and implement the changes required.
Biggest career misjudgement to date?
The biggest mistake I made was in being too trusting and optimistic of other people I worked with. Unfortunately not everyone is honest and ethical, despite what they may say, and if you open yourself up to being taken advantage of, some people will do that. I learnt the hard way that having integrity can cost you a lot. However this also assisted me to clarify my goals and objectives for my own business, and then pushed me to take the jump into being self-employed. Everything teaches you something as long as you are prepared to learn. Sometimes the learning really hurts, but you need it to move forward.
How much time is spent client facing vs. in the office?
In small business, and in finance, networking is essential to success. However I don’t believe you should stick to our industry only. To open up and learn more, you should network with like-minded business owners of many industries so you can see what barriers you need to overcome, learn how to do things differently to everyone else in your industry, and to make sure you stand out from the pack.
The value of client events:
Client events are great, but I don’t consider them essential. If you are good enough and differentiate yourself, the clients will come to you. Industry events are also essential to learn and keep up, but that is not all you should do. If you do the same thing that everyone else in our industry is doing, you will just end up being the same, sounding the same, charging the same, and fighting for the same market segments. Look at things differently with different perspectives and you should be able to open up new markets and make a difference.
Financial Planning in Australia is one of the most compliance focused and legislated industries that exists.
We probably spend at least 3 times more time doing research, paperwork and compliance tasks than we do meeting with clients. Whilst some of these tasks can be passed to employees or outsourced, ultimately the Adviser is responsible for everything and it is time-consuming and costly to work in this field.