Financial planning is an industry that often gets a bad rap. But actually becoming a financial adviser can lead to a rewarding career that goes way beyond the stereotype. Surprised? You might be. We bust the five most popular myths about working in financial planning. Check them out, but first listen to Diana Saad talk about why she loves her job!
1. It's just about sales
Financial planning is a profession centered on relationship building and trust, rather than a single sale or transaction.
It is not about product placement, for good planners the key is, and always has been, to help customers achieve their goals with long-term strategies and transparency. The primary role of the planner is to translate their customers' financial and lifestyle goals into a plan for success. Of course, the true value of advice also goes beyond a financial plan; its about educating and mentoring customers to empower them to make financial decisions with confidence.
Major changes to the way financial advice is provided, including the government's Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) reforms, support this focus by helping to remove potential conflicts that may compromise quality advice.
2. It's just about numbers
Planners must understand how to translate complex customer needs into workable strategies, but they don't do it alone. While math skills are important, it's not just about the numbers.
A good financial planner has the ability to look beyond the figures and identify the 'why' behind their customers' needs. This involves skills like networking, communications and the ability to think outside the square.
Coaching and mentoring
This opportunity to coach and mentor others is what makes financial planning a people oriented, relationship based career that makes a difference in people's lives.
And financial planners are not on their own; they are supported by back and middle office teams such as Research, Technical and Paraplanning so that they can rely on the advice they give their customers.
As a result of its relationship based nature, the industry is generally very collaborative. Joining it means becoming part of a community where colleagues collaborate regularly to learn and problem solve together.
3. It's not flexible
As an industry driven by output and performance rather than hours worked, financial planners have more flexibility than most of the ability to work in their preferred environment and to be rewarded for their contribution to the business, rather than the number of hours spent there.
This may include the option to work in multiple branches; obtain technology support to work from home; or work on the phone providing advice on single topics like insurance.
Financial planning is an industry that rewards those who work smarter, not harder. Many companies also offer the option flexible leave arrangements including the option to purchase additional annual leave via salary sacrifice as well as child care support for women returning to the workforce. This means it's up to you to select the work-life balance that suits you.
4. There are no growth opportunites
Financial planning is about flexibility and this also means the freedom to pursue career advancement.
There are multiple ways to start a financial planning career, from customer service roles to support positions in Paraplanning. You can work for a large employer, a small employer or be self employed.
There are also lots of ways to progress. From a financial planner in a bank branch with the strength of a big brand, to a self employed adviser with a Dealer Group as a business coach. Whichever option you choose, the opportunities are endless.
And the industry is as deep as it's wide. Financial planners can pursue areas outside of pure investment advice such as estate planning, self managed superannuation and aged care. Terms such as 'relationship manager'; and 'wealth management/wealth creation' are being used more widely as the industry increasingly recognises the wide, holistic nature of advice.
The rapid growth of specialist financial planning university degrees shows the industry's increasing diversification.
5. It's a man's world
More women are now considering a career in financial planning, citing the profession's dynamic work environment, flexibility and increasing growth opportunities.
Financial planning is also an opportunity to participate in a high skilled profession and in doing so, positively influence women's participation in the workforce. Pursuing a career in a high-skilled profession like financial planning help ensure the demographics of society are reflected in the workplace.
Together, the demand for more women to seek financial advice as well as join the profession supports some noteworthy broader goals: To strengthen workplace gender equality and deliver advice to more Australians.
Make a difference
If you want to make a significant difference to people's lives, are good at listening to people and want to help them achieve their goals, you should consider a career in financial planning.
Now is the time to join an industry focused on expanding the reach of advice to all Australians. Being part of this movement directly supports helping more people increase their financial literacy; have the tools they need to make good financial decisions; and achieve their dreams.
Financial planning has the power to make a difference to people's lives and may be a rewarding career that goes way beyond the stereotypes.
Interested in finding out more about financial planning? BT Financial Group has launched The Stella Network - an online community connecting women in financial planning. It welcomes men and women who believe that balance in our industry supports a better future for our customers, people and communities.
This information is current as at 09/09/2013.
BT Financial Group - A Division of Westpac Banking Corporation. This document provides an overview or summary only and it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon as such. This information does not constitute financial advice. It has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, before acting on this information, you should consider its appropriateness having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. Information in this blog that has been provided by third parties has not been independently verified and BT Financial Group is not in any way responsible for such information.