I recently passed the exam to become a certified financial planner. The certification
process has three main requirements. Last year I completed the education requirement
through the UC Santa Cruz Extension program. The second step was passing the exam and the third
step which I still need to complete is the experience Requirement. I have to complete
at least three years of qualifying work experience.
I am starting a new job at Intuit tomorrow which I am very excited about so I am looking for ways to get the experience without changing careers. At some point in the distant future I’d like to become a
fee only planner. But not right now I want to start getting some experience in my
spare time. Being a fee only planner means I would make my money based
based on an hourly rate in contrast to some planner who make their money based on
commissions for the financial products they sell.
Anyway I am trying to figure out ways to get experience. Recently I made an appointment with
one of the instructors I had when I was taking financial planning classes to ask
for his input.
Here are some of the questions I asked him and his answers.
Q: Would you recommend starting out by doing planning for families and friends and would I
need to register as an investment adviser with the state.
A: Doing planning for friends and family can be very difficult. They may not want to share all the relevant information with you. They may not really want advice and they may have unrealistic expectations. As long as you don’t charge for your services you don’t have to register with the state. What most aspiring planners do is form a relationship with an established planner who is willing to let you work under his or her supervision and use his or her registration. The established planner can vouch for the time you spend and can also be your mentor.
Q. Would you recommend the Financial Planning Associations Residency Program?
A. Yes, absolutely. The residency program is an intense week long learning opportunity. You work with teams to do three case studies which include roll playing and getting feedback from experienced and expert planners. It counts for 3 months of work experience. You learn an amazing amount about the practice of financial planning and you make friends for life.
Q I’m thinking about taking the H&R Block Income tax class would you recommend it?
A. Yes if you want to do income tax it is a good class to take and they sometimes offer people jobs.
Q. What other learning opportunities can you suggest?
A. The Bridge the gap track a the FPA annual convention
The National Association of Enrolled Agents
The Chartered Financial Analyst Institute
Q How do I find someone to allow me to work under their supervision?
A. There are multiple ways to do this but you should go into it with a plan in mind. It should be a 50/50 proposition so that the planner you are working with gets as much out of the relationship as you do. You need to identify what you can offer whether it be computer assistance, filing, data entry, marketing or something else. It is worthwhile creating a written business plan so that you have a focused approach to take. Then you can start talking to planners, people you meet at FPA meetings, other students etc. Considering a specialty is a good idea. Possible areas of specialization include things like working with divorced women or providing financial counseling,. Once you have a plan then you just have to get out there and start making yourself known.
Q. Do you have other suggestions?
A. It can be very helpful to create a study group or a group of planners who are going through the same experience. Agree on an approach and a structure for how often you will meet and what you will all contribute. You can bring in speakers, share ideas and learn from each other.