How do you know if a financial planning career is right for you? A career in financial planning is not for everyone, but here are certain signs you should consider it.
1. You spend your free time diving into various student loan repayment options and retirement income planning strategies.
Spending the time that you could otherwise be watching Netflix or hanging out with friends is a strong indicator that you are interested enough in financial planning topics to pursue further. Understanding and taking the time to learn the differences between a Roth 401k and a Traditional 401k and many other financial planning topics are the foundations of a financial planning career, so the fact that you are already well on your way to understanding them is a good sign.
2. You often find yourself bringing financial planning topics up in conversation with friends and family, and they start asking you for advice when they need it.
Not only are you interested in researching personal finance, you also have a desire to share that knowledge with others. There’s a difference between caring about your own personal finances and being willing to spend serious time diving into someone else’s questions and concerns that may not be as relevant to your own personal finances. If you can’t wait to help others, that’s a good sign. When you’re at the point that those around you know about your interest and growing expertise and ask for your opinions, you’re getting there. If you spend time on these questions and consider all the ways to optimize their financial situations (even if it may or may not always be the right time to share it with them), then you’re already well on the road to a financial planning career.
3. You’ve signed up (or are considering signing up) for all the classes in the CFP curriculum.
The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) curriculum covers the concepts necessary to properly prepare financial plans and give solid financial advice to others. While an infinite variety of personal financial situations exist, these classes cover all the foundational concepts involved. Since the bread and butter of your duties as a financial planner will be financial advice and financial plans, you should be excited about learning as much as you can about these concepts, even if school wasn’t your favorite activity.
4. You’re comfortable talking about money with others and can make them comfortable too.
Personal finance is quite possibly the most taboo conversation topic in our society today. Most of us could not be less open about discussing financial topics in conversation. But as a financial planner, you will be doing it often and should be comfortable discussing these potentially uncomfortable topics with others. You should possess the skills to make others feel comfortable, unjudged, and willing to be open with you. Your success as a financial planner depends on it.
5. You want to help others and love listening and communicating with them.
A significant portion of your client-facing time as a financial planner will actually be spent listening. Listening to the client’s current situation, understanding their goals and what’s holding them back, and interpreting their behaviors and fears are critical. Knowing how to communicate with them in this way will enable you to better help.
6. Proper financial planning strikes you as a prerequisite to achieve other goals in life.
Planning ahead is extremely helpful to being successful in general, and personal finance is no different. In the end, financial planning is merely a means to achieve other life goals for clients. Goals like traveling around the world or spending time with loved ones are great, but only become possible with the financial means to do so. Planning ahead financially is a means (and many times a prerequisite) to make goals like these a reality.
7. Numbers don’t daunt you.
While you by no means have to be a calculus whiz, knowing how to explain compound interest or tax implications of a certain strategy are necessary to be a financial planner. While financial planning is initially directed by the client and their goals (see #5), the numbers make those goals possible and provide direction for various strategies and courses of action. Being confident about these numbers can make you a more confident financial planner.
All in all, there’s no one sure way to be 100% confident that any career is the one for you, but if the signs above are there, a financial planning career could be worth considering!
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