Have you ever considered financial planning as a career path?
As we discovered in a recent article published here on the Career Incubator, a career in financial planning isn’t just for finance grads.
People from all different backgrounds, including education, political science, philosophy, social work, English, engineering and more, can become financial planners and do really well.
Although Vancouver financial planner and branch manager Alim Dhanji does have a background in finance – he has a BBA and also graduated from the British Columbia Institute of Technology‘s financial management program – we asked him to give us an insider’s perspective on being a financial planner, and tell us what opportunities exist in financial planning for recent graduates who are interested in starting their careers.
Q. What appealed to you about becoming a financial planner?
A. I enjoy working with people one-on-one and I like the idea of helping them achieve their life goals through the process of planning. It is a challenging and rewarding role as I am constantly learning and keeping myself updated on many different areas. This industry is very dynamic. It’s always changing. I specialize in tax and investment planning, although one may choose to focus on other areas like risk management or estate planning.
Q. How did your educational background help you become a financial planner?
A. BCIT’s financial management program was great, the instructors were from the industry; the education was practical, and we worked on cases that I would come across today in my practice. We did a lot of team and group work, and I learned to network and build relationships early on. I keep in touch with many of my colleagues, which is important in my professional development.
Q. What sort of training or certification did you complete before you were able to work as a financial planner, and how did it help you in your career?
A. In addition to the financial management program at BCIT, I earned Certified Financial Planner certification. This really boosted my career. It gave me credibility with colleagues, and clients know that I have the education, ethics, and relevant experience in helping them with their financial situation. Having CFP certification gives you the competitive advantage that you need in the industry.
Q. What’s the most valuable experience you’ve had in your career as a financial planner so far?
A. Working with and assisting a seasoned financial planner who mentored me and taught me all aspects of running a financial planning practice: from preparing written financial plans to meeting with clients. I am well prepared to handle many different situations as they arise. I believe working with someone who has experience is a great approach and it gives you time and structure for developing your skills.
Q. What opportunities for young people exist in your industry?
A. I think there are lots of opportunities for young people, especially because we will see a large number of financial planners retire in the next 10 to 15 years and they will need people to take over their clients and businesses. Currently, there aren’t enough young financial planners in the industry to be able to fill this gap. Also, as our population grows, financial planners will be in high demand.
Q. What would you say to other students and recent grads who are considering working as financial planners but don’t necessarily have a background in finance?
A. Financial planning isn’t just about the numbers. It includes coaching, motivating and empowering people to achieve their life goals. I have worked with a financial planner who has a teaching degree, which really adds to his strength and ability to help people learn more about their financial well-being. I believe that a person who has a different background will be able to use that strength and incorporate it into their financial planning approach. It’s unique and useful.
To find more information about becoming a Certified Financial Planner professional, please visit www.fpsc.ca.