CFP practical experience

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.

Leaving Sun

I’ve taken a job at Intuit  and I’m leaving Sun. Wow, I can’t quite believe it is real. The job is an exciting opportunity and I am very excited about all the new challenges, but I am very ambivalent about leaving Sun. I have been here for 17 years. When I started at Sun I had two little girls 3 and 7 and my last name was Brown. Now 17 years later my youngest is going into her last year of college and will turn 21 in a few months, and my oldest has just finished two years of teaching elementary school. My life has changed dramatically. Having been divorced and remarried my last name is now Vermazen. 17 years is in a very real sense a life time. My time at Sun has been an amazing roller coaster. A high point has been working with absolutely phenomenal people who just awe me with their creativity, hard work and intelligence.

One of the things about working for a big company is that you can change jobs but not change employers. I’ve been a customer support manager, a software development manager, a configuration management manager, a real estate IT manger, and finally the IT director for Sun’s iWork program. For most of these jobs I am very proud of what I accomplished. For a couple of them all I can say is that they were low points on the roller coaster and real learning experiences.

Sun is an absolutely amazing company that I will always be proud to have been a part of. I have almost always felt like I could make a difference here and I  have never even for a moment doubted the reality of Sun’s high ethical standards.

Finally I am so grateful that Sun introduced me to blogging.  Creating a blog and being a part of Sun’s blogging community has been so much fun. I think I am hooked for life and I just hope I can create a successful blog away from the warm and nurturing environment of   I don’t know how long my Sun Blog will be around.

Update 2018: Soon after Oracle bought Sun went away. I have hard copy of all my Sun posts but they are no longer available online.

A Community Builder and a Renaissance Woman

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what Tom Peters calls  brand. He says "We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc." So starting a new job and starting a new blog have gotten me thinking. I’m a community builder. In my job at Sun I really enjoyed being a part of the team that was accelerating the change to Java Desktop and Solaris 10 across Sun. I am also a renaissance women. I love having a variety of interests, I enjoy intellectual stimulation and I thoroughly enjoy writing about these subjects in my blog. To be interesting is  important to me. So my goal is to be a community builder and to be a renaissance women.

I’ve just finished reading Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. The book is about community building. It is one of those books that you are almost afraid to be seen reading because if you are building community and making friends for what they can do for you, then you are a schmuck. That isn’t what Ferrazzi advocates and it certainly isn’t me.  Benjamin Franklin is my role model. He had a wide variety of interests. Everything from electricity to creating a new country. He believed strongly in networking.Ferrazzi says  Franklin " believed that a group of like-minded, achievement oriented individuals could dramatically leverage each others success to do things otherwise impossible." I think that if Franklin were alive today he would be a blogger. He not only helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, but he was also a best selling author, ran a very successful newspaper, and was an inveterate writer. I know I would love to read his blog.

If you are interested in Franklin then I highly recommend Benjamin Franklin by Edmund S. Morgan . I read it several months ago but it is a favorite of mine. Morgan describes Franklin’s insatiable curiosity, the strong value he placed on being useful and his industry and frugality which Franklin saw not as a way to wealth but as a way to contentment. When I pulled the book off my shelf I found that I had written a  couple of Franklin quotes on  a piece of paper and left them in the book. The first quote makes me identify with Franklin: "I find I love company, chat, a laugh, a glass and even a song as well as ever." The second is just very true: "You can always employ time better than in polemics."