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A Day in the Life of a Financial Planner

By Patrick Canion, CFP 

In many ways, it was an easy decision. The office was air-conditioned. I had my own desk. And, unlike the factory at which I had previously worked, the boss didn’t yell at me for sitting down on the job.

‘What’s not to like about working in financial services’, I asked myself? OK, I was 19 years old, and really at that time there was no such thing as a ‘financial planner’. But working as an enquiries clerk at a life insurance company was a great journey of discovery. And not just because I knew nothing about life insurance.

Wait a minute. ‘Great journey of discovery’ doesn’t sound like a phrase that belongs anywhere near ‘life insurance company.’  And, maybe it’s simply a sad reflection, but that’s exactly what started for me, and that journey has led me into the profession of financial planning.

A Day in the Life 

I discovered that being a financial planner has as much to do with understanding peoples’ hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations as it does money. You have to understand human nature as much as you do tax law. You have to communicate better than a politician making a stump-speech. You need the patience of a forest while you work with your clients.

You’ll need to be steadfast through financial turbulence, though most of it will be not of your making and certainly beyond your control. You’ll need to engage peoples’ hearts so they will stay the course, and engage their heads to ensure their respect of your ability.

And, because everyone has money, they’ll all have an opinion on your advice. Most of them will be ill-informed, so you’ll need to kindly educate them while satisfying them because they are the customer.

I can’t tell you why you should become a financial planner. You’ll have your own reasons and motivations and you’ll need to work a lot of it out for yourself, because each journey is as individual as your clients will be. There are easier ways to make a living, that’s for sure.

I can only tell you my reasons.

Why I Love Financial Planning

I like people. I love helping others. I like to earn the respect of my clients and peers, and I like to earn good money.

I love the challenge of turning a service relationship into a business model that survives over generations of advisers and clients.  I thrive on taking intangible concepts and weaving these into a coherent strategy that is pursued over time. I savour sitting down with clients, pausing to review their achievements over the years and congratulating them on what they have done.

I see cashflow and financial assets the way composers can read a music score and hear the music. To me, the numbers lift off the page and become, with an understanding of a client’s values, threads which can be woven into a beautiful tapestry. I get excited when I show my client’s the stories that can be woven into that material.

I will give you some advice though. If you think you want to be a financial adviser, go for it totally. Aspire to be the best, to reach CFP professional status. Learn what aspects of advising you like the best. Never stop asking questions and never be afraid to approach experienced advisers – you’ll find they’ll be happy to spend as much time as you want helping you out.

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