Finding a Job

Becoming a Financial Planner is Less About Finance- And Here’s Why

The title of this probably left a few people scratching their heads. How could a job not be 100% about something that is in its title? As many students in their final year of college looking for a job may notice, the various financial services institutions with a financial advisor or planner (same thing) job opening usually do not even require a business degree. They strongly prefer it, but if you walk in with a certain set of qualifications you will be golden. More on those later though. The first thing they will all generally do with you has a preliminary round of phone conversation, followed by an online assessment. A long online assessment. This runs through a few basic things, more of a standardized test than anything. These are in place to hopefully weed out the majority of people unfit for the position. A major question that might catch most people off guard is how many people you know that you can call for money.

Taken Moments Before His Abrupt Scrooge McDuck Transformation

This itself is not inherently a bad thing to ask. It makes sense that the majority of financial institutions would want you to reach out to your family and friends initially. Then, organically grow a network through referrals from them, branching out until after awhile the book of business cannot be found on an ancestry website. The only thing that bothered me about it though, was that they ask big numbers. They do not want to interview you unless you claim to know (family included) 250-300 people whose money you could manage. So, basically, any college kid who is being realistic with themselves and answering honestly probably will not get an interview. However, that number can be broad, and some might consider the middle school gym teacher from 8 years ago as a contact. Depends on who people consider being part of their organic network.
When that nephew who’s a financial planner starts handing out cards at the family reunion.

Another equally important component to getting into financial advisory is how outgoing and relatable you are to other people. They do their best to figure out if you go into panic mode with human interaction before the interview, and with good reason. The majority of your time spent as a youngster in the financial advising arena will be spent dialing phones and presenting to those that you want to sell services to. If you have a personality geared for this, it will be a perfect fit.

If you make it past the phone calls and online test questions, you will probably be brought in for another interview. This one goes over a lot of things, the majority being how your office structure would work, reporting hierarchy, training schedule, and things like that. Here, though, is how they really gauge if you can play the part. By playing the part, I mean, of all things, acting as a psychologist of sorts to your customers. Money is a tough subject in certain cases, and people are trusting you with theirs. Some companies have even said they prefer a psychology major over others for the job. In some cases you are not just taking money, handing it to the higher-ups to manage, enjoying your commission and moving to the next person or phone call. You actually work with and coach your clients’ decision-making occasionally when money is the subject matter.

That is the other important aspect. You know nothing at the beginning about actually doing financial stuff. They push you through all the training, certifications, and other tasks necessary to add a bunch of designations to the end of your name on LinkedIn. The training takes a few months, so what I should have said was that the process of earning the title had little to do with finance. Once you have the designations and you are fully licensed to sell the services, the actuaries are still the ones calling the shots on what to do with the money, but your name looks cool.

To recap, here are the three things that you ACTUALLY need to become a financial planner:

  • A big network of contacts
  • Sales personality 
  • Psychology-y-ness, I suppose