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Financial planners are responsible for helping people achieve their financial dreams and goals for today and retirement. It takes specific skill sets and relevant education, such as a certified financial planner course in Canada to be a good one and meet their client’s needs.
A Certified Financial Planner or CFP can deal with far more complex plans, financial instruments and arrangements than a financial advisor without a CFP designation. Becoming a CFP in Canada can take anywhere from six months to five years depending on the path to certification and the individual’s experience, education and drive to complete the program.
To become a certified financial planner, you should enjoy working with numbers, investments, long-range planning, and have an affinity for working with people. Being good with numbers is vital, but having good people skills is also essential for you to understand the needs, dreams and aspirations of your clients.
You can build your people skills by working on your skills in the areas of communication, organization, networking, and self-motivation. You should also have the ability to give and receive feedback.
Along with the ability to understand, analyze and interpret numbers, communication is a top skill to be a certified financial planner. It’s more than the ability to read, write an email and make phone calls. The emphasis here is on listening skills – taking the time to put your biases/interpretations aside and hear what the client is saying and, perhaps more importantly, what they aren’t saying. Your job is to ask relevant questions and gradually build a strong relationship with your clients to tease out the stage of life they are in, their risk tolerance, and their hopes for the future and pertinent information that makes up their current financial picture to help them form the financial future they want.
Communication skills also include the ability to translate complex data into everyday language that is understandable and actionable, so clients are on the same page with the plan. Additionally, financial planners must be able to work independently in addition to being part of a team, so inter-office communication skills are also important.
This comes down to time management and general organizational skills. While some financial planners would rather sit in their office reviewing reports and analyzing data, others would like to spend time over coffee talking about fishing, sailing or soccer with their clients. Too much of either style won’t work for a financial planner’s career. It comes down to balance and the ability to manage multiple clients, appointments and make time for the absorption of information, research and analysis required to present plans and options to clients.
Manual organization is also important as there is still a large amount of paper-based information required in the financial planner role in addition to computer data. Both need to be organized in an easily-accessible way that reduces the amount of time spent looking up for files when questions are asked, or information is needed.
Networking allows financial planners to interact with others in the industry and learn potentially valuable information such as product opportunities and further education possibilities. Additionally, networking with fellow financial planners opens up the chances of co-working, new business ideas and future growth. Networking also exposes financial planners to those in related industries such as banking and law firms which can be instrumental in new client referrals.
Working solo can be daunting, and it isn’t for everyone. The to-do list could be a mile long, but without the right amount of motivation, it’s irrelevant. Motivation is key to not only to do the work needed but also to market yourself. Self-employed people and those who work from home will tell you there are numerous distractions in the world of non-traditional work environments, so learning how you are best motivated is essential from the get-go.
Ability to Give and Receive Feedback:
Developing this skill will help you build positive relationships. Your job as a financial planner is to guide clients to the options that will help them succeed and achieve their goals. Some people may come to you already believing they have the answers and just need someone to act on them, but a great financial planner will look at all the options and determine the best ones. You will need to give feedback objectively and positively to have a client receive it well.
You will also need to be open to receiving feedback. For instance, you’ve had a look at the life stage of a client and built a plan for them. But you have missed an important part of the plan: the client wants to be able to save for the down-payment of his child’s house even if it’s not financially feasible now. Being open to suggestions will allow you to hear the feedback your client is giving you. That way, you’ll be able to modify and adjust things in the early stages as well as going forward.
It takes a lot of work to become a financial planner, but once you put in the effort, you can be assured of a great career, one where you will have the potential to earn big bucks and the freedom to decide your work schedule.