When students think about careers in finance, they tend to think either Bay Street stockbroker or accountant. However, there is a significant range of jobs, and opportunities within the financial services industry despite the recent economic crash and ongoing recession.
To find out why financial services professionals are in such high demand and what’s required to become one (you don’t need a background in finance!), we asked Heather Mills from Financial Planning Standards Council to provide us with some information about the current and future prospects for financial planners.
Consider this: of the 17,500 Certified Financial Planner® professionals in Canada, 44% are over the age of 50 and will be retiring in the next 10-15 years.
However, only 10% of CFP professionals are under the age of 35. This means there are great opportunities for younger planners in terms of succeeding older planners as they transition out of their businesses.
Further feeding this unprecedented growth are Canadian demographics: more people are approaching retirement and need qualified and experienced planners to help them manage their financial resources and reach their financial and life goals.
“What if my educational background isn’t in finance?”
If your degree has nothing to do with financial planning, don’t worry. People with degrees in education, political science, philosophy, social work, English, engineering, etc., can often bring a very unique perspective to financial planning.
Many Canadians are finding they don’t have the time or knowledge to contend with their finances by themselves and they’re looking for competent and ethical advice from professionals to assist them with meeting their life goals, such as paying off mortgages, buying a second property, planning their retirement and financial legacies and investment planning.
Financial planning requires many skills (professional and technical), but people who are empathetic, care about making a difference in people’s lives by helping them achieve life goals, have excellent attention to detail, and are skilled communicators are often great financial planners.
What are often considered the “soft” skills learned in liberal arts and sciences programs make a big difference in this career, where your clients need to be thought of as people, not dollar signs.
“What would a financial planner’s typical day look like?”
The great thing about financial planning is its flexibility. Work in the office, at a branch, or out of your home – it all fits. A typical day may include:
- meeting with new or existing clients
- collecting client data and preparing financial plans
- reaching out to clients to offer changes to their plans
- suggesting products to help them reach their goals
The opportunity and variety can be limitless.
“What kind of training do financial planners need?”
It’s important to note that the term “financial planner” is not regulated by the Canadian government. This means anyone can call themselves a “financial planner,” print up business cards and start asking people to entrust them with their financial futures.
If you are considering becoming a professional financial planner, it’s smart to consider earning a financial planning designation, like the Certified Financial Planner certification.
Employers are increasingly asking financial planners to have credentials that speak to competence and ethics in this field because clients are growing wary of untrained, unethical advisors. It’s a great way to demonstrate your commitment to the profession and increase your earning power quickly, and show your clients you are committed to the industry and its best practices.
The education requirement of CFP certification makes sure you earn the requisite competence expected of a Certified Financial Planner professional; are abiding by a stringent Code of Ethics; have been tested on your competence; and have completed years of work experience.
To find more information about becoming a Certified Financial Planner professional, please visit www.fpsc.ca.