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Best Careers: Financial Planning

Daehong Kwon, CFP, Koreaby Daehong Kwon, CFP

There are many studies placing “financial planner” in the top rank of most desirable careers. Would you encourage others to become a financial planner? Why or why not? How important is attaining a CFP certification, and what motivated you to get certified?

I am often asked by job-seekers and college students about the growth of the financial planning profession as well as the income level. Interestingly enough, people always tend to cite newspaper articles related to job preferences such as “The Top Ten Most Promising Professions in the Future.” In the articles, people called “financial asset managers” always rank in the top echelon, with the explanation that their career is high-income and admired in the advanced countries. (I would like to sincerely ask the financial planners in other countries who are reading this — is this true?)

Financial Asset Managers 

“Financial asset managers” are not limited to being financial planners, only. They may encompass professions in each realm of finance, including fund managers, stock brokers, wealth managers, insurance agents, etc. They may even include new types of financial professionals. Thus, if one argues that “financial asset manager” refers to only one of those, they might be exaggerating their title for marketing purposes.

In any case, the aforementioned information and data are often used by job-seekers and financial planning-hopefuls to mold their beliefs and expectations about the profession. In particular, insurance companies that are recruiting highlight those newspaper articles in their public relations campaigns.

Every Career has Pros and Cons 

An attention to the prospect of a profession and the trend of its industrial sector is certainly encouraging. I believe, however, that when someone is choosing a career path, they need to consider the perks of the job, as well as the pitfalls. Every job has pros and cons. When people ask me for my advice, I mention both the motivating factors and the setbacks, including the reality facing the financial planning profession.

Even some of the most-desirable jobs have disadvantages that others cannot see from the outside. This may be true with most professions in the world. Some professionals, when talking about their profession, will say “they are not the same as before”, or “we are not as happy as outsiders perceive us to be.” There are many things to consider when looking at careers, including the growth of the profession, income level, and the personal impact of the job.

Growing Professions Don’t Guarantee Individual Success

It is a wise approach to choose a profession with increasing demand. However, it should be noted that just because a profession is doing well, doesn’t mean everyone in that profession is successful. For example, the stock market might be on an upswing, but the prices and values of individual stocks are going in all different directions.

If you aspire to be a financial planner based on the growth prospect of the financial planning profession in mind, then, I would assure you that that is a good decision. However, if you are motivated by the high salary alone, without realizing the need for people-skills and ethics, I would advise you to seek another profession.

Finance + Ethics = Financial Planning

Financial planners must base everything on ethics. The financial planning market in Korea has just begun to take shape. Those planners, who are in the middle of making the transition, are willing to sacrifice themselves in the effort to lay out a foundation for the next generation of professionals.

The financial planning profession in Korea has a very short history, as of yet, with entry barriers being fairly low. Anybody who wants to start as a financial planner can do so, but the real challenge is to stay in business and be successful. To achieve success, I would argue, not only requires competence but faith and conviction in the profession, more than anything else. Not all financial planners have to be CFP professionals, but it is the CFP professionals who will lead the financial planning profession in Korea.

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