Advisor Book Review: So You Want to Be a Financial Planner

4 min read
April 14, 2016

For far too long, there hasn't been much direction or advice for next generation talent interested in pursuing a financial planning career. There aren't widely-available answers to the tough questions about how to start or get your foot in the door as an advisor who really cares about financial planning for their clients.

Resources are scarce and it's not always easy to find a mentor to help understand how to break into the profession and succeed in the industry. But there is good news, and it comes in the form of a comprehensive read for anyone looking to get into financial planning

So You Want to Be a Financial Planner aims to fill the resource gap by covering just about every angle of the topic that anyone looking to enter this industry will want to get familiar with. This book is a full guide for anyone considering a career change, looking to transition to financial planning from another position within the financial industry, or currently pursuing higher education in financial planning.

Simply put, it gives future financial planners the start they need to succeed in the field.

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Must-Know Info Straight from the Source

One of the great things about So You Want to Be a Financial Planner is that it was written by someone who knows the ins and outs of the business -- and whose aim in writing the book was not to market herself or her firm, but truly to provide much-needed insight for newcomers.

Nancy Langdon Jones, CFP® is heavily involved in the industry and focuses on educating professionals both through her books and through teaching courses leading to the CFP® certification exam. She’s also served on the CFP® Board Item Writing Committee and is a member of NASAA’s Investment Advisor Competency Exam Advisor Council.

The book itself provides information that’s hard to find elsewhere, and readers who are new to financial planning can trust that it’s a reliable resource to help them get started.

What’s Covered, and What You’ll Learn

The book builds on a natural progression of what it means to be a financial planner and takes readers on a step-by-step journey of what starting their own practice would look like. Beginning with establishing the educational framework, Jones explains the process of obtaining the Certified Financial Planner™ designation, and provides case studies from advisors that have attended some of the top CFP® programs across the country.

The material continues with chapters on compliance, starting a practice from scratch, and even a chapter on maintaining passions and hobbies outside of the industry while working toward growing your financial planning career. Readers will find immense value in the balance of actionable advice and psychological perspective provided throughout.

Going Beyond Theory and Hypotheticals

The opening chapter begins with arguably the most important question for someone looking to establish a career within the financial planning industry: the question of why.

Jones is transparent in her reason for choosing a career in financial planning and shares several interactions with actual clients that only reinforced her decision (and this level of transparency is a theme throughout the book). Jones shares not only her experience, but also the stories of other financial planners who detail their successes and failures along their career paths.

The insight and stories are very helpful for driving some of the points home, and reading stories of individuals who have had the real-life experience is far more helpful than simply reading hypothetical explanations of what could happen.

A Springboard for Additional Resources

The sheer amount of resources included feels impressive and is an added benefit to readers. Not only do you receive the information, but you also get a list of other places that might fill in any gaps.

For example, if you were considering the financial planning industry and had questions about what to expect on the Series 65 exam, there are actual sample questions in the book. Or maybe you’re a little further along and need an action plan for establishing the compliance and regulatory side of your planning practice. There is a step-by-step process for that as well.

Simply put, whether you are new to the industry or an established practitioner, you can rest assured that So You Want to Be a Financial Planner provides a number of resources to help level-up your practice.

Addressing the Gaps

If there’s any opportunity for improvement within the book, it would be a more in-depth look at how to market yourself as a financial planner and your financial planning firm. To be fair, Jones does open the chapter by stating that the marketing information will be relatively short because 1) she admittedly doesn’t know a lot about marketing and 2) there are entire libraries and degree programs on the subject.

While those points may be valid, the information included in the subsequent chapter feels slightly stale and outdated.

With an increasing reliance of many advisors on technology, the methods of advertising by creating and distributing flyers or placing ads in newspapers simply won’t work with more tech-savvy consumers and next generation clients.

A basic overview of some of the new marketing best practices available would be helpful, and would continue one of the book’s strong suits: providing a strong starting point and foundation from which to continue to build knowledge.

What’s Next if You Want to Be a Financial Planner?

So You Want to Be a Financial Planner places a heavy emphasis on networks in general, and networking with other colleagues in the industry. For someone looking to break into the financial planning as a career, these are invaluable resources to consider after you’re done reading.

In many of the case studies, the financial advisors profiled credit much of their success to the networking opportunities they have been afforded and the organizations that they are a part of, including:

A Must-Read for Newcomers to Financial Planning

With So You Want to Be a Financial Planner, Jones covers just about every angle of the topic that anyone looking to enter this industry will want to get familiar with. She provides answers, ideas, and solutions for people eager to start down this career track, and gives countless resources to follow up on when you're ready to ask more advanced questions and dive deep into complicated topics like starting your own firm.

This is a must-read for anyone considering a career change, looking to transition to financial planning from another position within the financial industry, or currently pursuing higher education in financial planning. This comprehensive guide gives future financial planners the excellent start they need to succeed.

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