Brutal honesty required - career changer

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Manningham's picture
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Joined: 2014-08-12

I would very much appreciate an honest opinion.. I am preparing for a career change from education to financial planning.

I'll start with what I don't have:

I am 29 years old and have a Ba in history and a teaching certificate and have been teaching overseas for the past five years.  I have limited experience in finance, only having worked as a retail banker for a short time, and have not been living/working in an environment condusive to acquiring financial planning skills since leaving the US.

Now on to what I do have:

I have the time, money, and determination to obtain the skills and qualifications necessary to work in personal finance.  I sat for the CFP after a ten month capstone course just before my sojourn and came very close to passing, so I know what I'm getting into. 

My fiance and I agree that teaching is not something that will lead to happiness when we move back to the states (due to no child left behind, low salary etc), but I was stimulated by the challenge of the CFP, loved learning to manage and plan finances, and feel that a lot of what I love about teaching will translate over to financial counseling.

I am looking at the Kansas State online Ma in personal finance and will be able to put 20+ hours per week into the work without going into debt. 

But is it unrealistic to expect employment after completion of the program and passing the CFP exam?  I would expect to work low-level sales jobs to gain experience but would hope to advance to better positions upon being awarded the CFP with 3 years' experience.

Thanks for your thoughts!

indyaftereverythingelse's picture
Joined: 2014-09-15

Easy there... I like the ambition but you are making some early mistakes with finances before you even get into the field. First, we need more professionals in the field very badly. Know that first, you have the upper hand in negotiations because there is a huge need. Most of the industry (that is realistic) knows we will have a net loss of 2000 advisors in the next 2 years.

Don't get an MA, not needed and really won't open any doors for you unless you want to go work on Wall Street.

CFP is nice for other reps but really doesn't mean anything to clients unless someone convinced them that they need to only work with CFPs (to be honest, you probably don't want those clients). I have a CFP and rarely has it ever come up with clients.

Really those two things are just delaying you from real life experience that can help you. Why put on hold what you could literally start doing tomorrow.

Find a local independent firm and interview several of them. Ask that you come on as a sales assistant until you get a 7 and 63/65 or 66. You will make anywhere from 30k-40k in that role but its about learning by doing.

Find a firm that matches with what you believe in when it comes to dealing with clients.This is the most important part. For you to be happy in this industry, you have to love what you do. It is very stressful and hard work for the first 2-3 years and if you don't believe in what you are doing, it will just make it harder.

Make money your last concern. If you are in this industry for 20+ years, its not a question of if you will become a millionaire it when. Money is the outcome of why we do this job. You can't strip down fees and commission enough to not make a couple million over 20 years. That is why you need to believe in what you are doing.

Hope this helps and welcome to a fantastic career!

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