If you have been reading this blog you know that I think you need to be an actual expert to really work as a Financial Advisor. You can’t “fake it ‘til you make it” unless you like ruining lives – because that’s what people do when they give financial advice when they aren’t qualified.
I think that means while in college you would want to major in Financial Planning, Finance, or Accounting, get an internship at a Financial Advisory firm, and start studying to become a Certified Financial Planner™ Certificant.
Upon graduation, you should find work at a financial advisory firm as a junior advisor or associate advisor, keep studying so you can pass the requisite test (which has a pretty low pass rate, usually around 50-60%) and ultimately have enough work experience to actually become a bona fide Certified Financial Planner™ Practitioner.
Then you’d have to start learning all of the things they just can’t teach you in school or in your study program and keep up with the constant changes. Over time, you’ll get to be a good all-around financial advisor giving consistently good advice. After some more years, maybe you’ll even eventually become an expert at something. Maybe.
Unfortunately, almost nobody starts out as a Financial Advisor that way. Instead, most of us have come from other fields and have had to learn all the base material and everything else on the fly, usually with our incomes and careers on the line. It’s not close to ideal, but that’s how it has been for most of us. I hope its getting better, but we are still a long way from law or medicine or accounting.
You know you need to learn as much as you can as fast as you can. You need to learn about all sorts of aspects of giving financial advice and being in the business of giving financial advice. Most advisors are much better at the former than the latter. (That’s the reason for this blog in the first place.)
To save you lots of time, the following is a list I have compiled of people whose opinions and information I value highly, along with a quick word or two about what they do. They are in no particular order and, unfortunately, I know I will unintentionally leave some out and I will be much briefer than I would like to be in describing the great value these people have provided me over the years.
Michael Kitces, while a partner in a large wealth management firm, is primarily a speaker with a great blog. He writes and speaks about all sorts of financial planning subjects as well as the business of financial planning. Here is his blog and his Twitter handle is @MichaelKitces.
Bob Veres is a writer whose main offering, Inside Information, is well worth the subscription price. In addition to each monthly issue of Inside Information, which brings a wealth of information to help you build a better practice, he also provides media reviews that summarize the contents of three or four professional magazines. Those media reviews can save you many, many hours every month and keep you more abreast of the financial planning industry than you thought possible. Bob also puts on an annual conference in September, The Insider’s Forum that is excellent. On Twitter, he is @BobVeres.
David Drucker (@DavidDrucker) and Joel Bruckenstein (@FinTechie) wrote a book called Virtual-Office Tools for a High-Margin Practice published in 2002 that was my technology guidebook for starting my own firm. I really couldn’t have done it without that book. They followed it up in 2013 with Technology Tools for Today’s High-Margin Practice. They also publish the newsletter Virtual Office News and in February every year, they host a great conference, Technology Tools For Today (T3) Conference.
Bill Winterberg (@BillWinterberg) does consulting relating to technology strategies and is now also a keynote speaker. His free weekly Newsletter is always informative and interesting and usually pretty funny and I have used his consulting services and was very happy with them.
Carolyn McClanahan, (@CarolynMcC) is a financial planner and physician who talks about money, health and death, and is almost always funny somehow doing so.
Angie Herbers (@AngieHerbers), is a consultant, columnist, speaker, and researcher primarily involved in human capital and practice management.
Mark Tibergien (@MarkTibergien) is Chief Executive Officer of Pershing Advisor Solutions and before that he was with Moss Adams. He writes a regular column in Investment Advisor magazine and if you see that he is at a conference, you have to attend his session.
There are others that have contributed interesting and useful thoughts to our field, these are the people I find I turn to most often.