What do you do for a living?
I’m a certified financial planner and CEO and founder of my own investment advisory firm.
How would you describe what you do?
I work with young families, soon-to-be retirees, retirees and small business owners in helping them map out their financial future. I help them make sense of their financial investment strategy to make sure that they are invested the way they should be.
What does your work entail?
My work entails meeting with clients on a one-on-one basis to truly understand what goals they want to accomplish. From there, we take that information and develop an investment strategy that best complements that they are trying to achieve. I want to make sure that all my clients fully understand what we’re investing in to and why we’re doing it. I then have to keep in touch with each client, keeping the up to date on the investment strategy and make changes accordingly depending on their needs or economic changes in the markets.
What’s a typical work week like?
A typical work week is rather sporadic. I average anywhere between five to ten appointments a week. There’s a lot of outgoing and incoming phone calls. I also spend a lot of time working on my financial planning blog to help keep my clients educated.
How did you get started?
It all started at an internship between my junior and senior year of college. The internship turned into a part time job my senior year and then the part time job turned into getting an offer as a junior broker. I was a junior broker for just about a year and then was able to break off and become my own financial advisor.
What to you like about what you do?
I like when clients come in and completely depend on my to help make sense of their financial situation. I love it when I can explain a difficult concept but by using a simple analogy have it make sense. I love whenever I can see the light bulb go off in my client’s eyes knowing that they actually get it.
What do you dislike?
My biggest frustration is having no control on the actual stock market. I can have hundreds of meetings with clients, develop the perfect investment strategy for them, but if the market doesn’t cooperate, it puts a lot of stress on all parties involved. So, definitely do not like the lack of control.
How do you make money, or how are you compensated?
For me, compensation comes in one of two ways. Most of my compensation come from a fee-based arrangement where I make a percentage of the client’s money that I manage. Otherwise I get paid as a fee for service, or hourly. This is where I would complete a financial plan and charge a flat fee. If the client doesn’t have a specific need and just needs some guidance, then I can also charge by the hour.
As far as % goes, it can be anywhere from 1% on up to 2.5%. It really depends on the firm.
How much money do financial advisors make?
Well, I’m not certain. I’m sure that it varies. For an advisor that’s been in the business for at least three years, I have to think the range is anywhere between $40,000 a year on up into well the six digits. An established advisor who’s been in the business for ten to twenty years can easily make $250,000 on up.
How much money did you make starting out as a financial advisor?
Starting out, I made very little. As a junior broker, I had a base salary of $18,500. I would also get 50% of any commissions or fees that I earned. If I recall correctly, I only made just about $25,000 in my first year. Nothing to write home about.
Depending on the type of firm you start with determines the salary ranges. For example, most big brokerage firms will start you on a training salary that is comparable to your most recent career that you are transitioning from (within reason). Essentially, the firms want to make sure you have enough to pay your bills. After your training period has ended, then your salary starts to reduce to where after an initial trial period has expired (usually 9-12 months) your salary is gone and you are on full commission.
What education, schooling or skills are needed to do this?
To become a financial advisor does not require a certain degree, although having a finance background is definitely helpful. As far as skills needed, you have to be a people person, you have to be able to articulate complex strategies and make it simple for people to understand. Finally, you have to be self-motivated.
What is most challenging about what you do?
The most challenging aspect about what I do is keeping clients reassured that the investment strategy is working. With major media outlets always preaching doom and gloom, it’s easy for clients to get distracted by all the noise. Keeping them on focus about what their goals are and why we’re doing what we’re doing is a never ending process.
What is most rewarding?
Most rewarding is helping clients achieve their goals. There’s not a greater feeling than seeing a client finally retire and enjoy the new time they had with their family.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Don’t plan on being a millionaire overnight. Being a financial advisor takes time and takes earning a lot of trust from a lot of different people. If you have a passion for helping people and enjoy the markets, this is a career that I would strongly recommend.
How much time off do you get or take?
My first years in the business, I was working at least 50 to 60 hours a week trying to build my client base. Now that I’ve been in the business for almost ten years, I try to take at least two to three, sometimes four vacations a year. Over and above that, I’ll take three days where I get out of the office just to clear my mind. I’ve been fortunate enough to grow my business where I’ve hired a junior advisor that can handle most of the client issues when I’m not in the office. This is great for times I want to get away and spend time with my family, or just get some me time.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That I’m a stock guru and I know what the next Apple or Google is going to be, only to ask what’s my next great stock tip, and I’ll always laugh because other than tracking the Dow Jones, I don’t follow a lot of individual stocks.
What are you goals/dreams for the future?
My goals are to educate and empower as many individuals as I can, not so much with my financial planning practice, but with my financial planning blog, Good Financial Cents. I would love to develop an educational series that not just educates people, but really motivates them to take action and start saving for their financial future.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
I’m fortunately to have stumbled upon a career that I absolutely love, although I often tell people that I like to save and invest enough money that gives me the ability to retire early, say the age of 50, I’m fortunately to where I can honestly see myself doing this for the rest of my life. Most people retire from jobs that they don’t enjoy. But if it’s a passion, then why would you ever want to retire?