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How to Make Financial Planning Your Next Career



Financial planning is a diverse field populated with professionals from all walks of life, educational backgrounds, and professional experiences. Each person’s journey to financial planning looks different, which enhances the services and experiences they bring to the field and future clients. 

Here at ACP, we know that the path of a financial professional can be winding, but that’s what makes our field so unique. We are all on a path to grow and provide exceptional service and value to our clients; that growth can take us places we never thought possible. 

Many of our members began their careers in some facet of the financial space, whether it be insurance, investments, or other sales/commission roles. But there are a number of other professionals whose careers didn’t begin in finance at all. Rather, these individuals continued to shape their career development and found financial planning in that search. 

Career changers are an important part of our community and today we wanted to bring you a post dedicated to the journey you can take to financial planning. 

Pique your interest

Even if your resume doesn’t include direct experience in finance, most of our members recall a fondness or affinity for finances and financial health throughout other professional positions. 

In a recent podcast episode, we spoke with Bill Carlson, CFP, managing partner and co-founder of Fog City Advisors. Bill’s professional career was anything but straightforward, but all of his experiences led him to his successful, fee-only fiduciary financial planning practice.

In detailing his long-time interest in finance, Bill recalled using his birthday money as a child to invest in stock. From a young age, Bill knew that he had an interest in finance, but with a family of real estate experts he didn’t see a professional application for his interests.

As time went on, Bill found himself thrown into many different financial conversations and situations with other co-workers. When he worked in HR, he found that financial questions were part of the territory and he enjoyed working with his colleagues to find the right solution for them.

Many people feel that their interests or passions can’t always be translated into a career path, but we like to help our members craft a business plan and service model they are passionate about. 

We do that through extensive training and professional development opportunities. Our members also have a strong community behind them rooting for their success and ready to offer advice and solutions to help them grow. 

Start slow

Once Bill knew he had a professional interest in finance, he didn’t just open his financial practice. He started to gain more experience in the financial sector and began selling tax-sheltered annuities to teachers and nonprofits.

He found a lot of success there and continued to move up in the company. But once he reached management level, he started to become more and more aware of the conflicts of interest that were infused into nearly every transaction. 

While it was a lucrative position, Bill didn’t want to push products on people which weren’t the best fit for their needs. This is a dilemma that so many of our members have gone through in the past. Conflicts of interest permeate a good portion of the financial industry, which makes our commitment to a fiduciary standard even more important. 

Once you know that you are interested in pursuing a career in financial planning, it is important that you gain experience to see which area is the best fit for you and the type of service you want to provide to clients. After you have established that, you need to make sure that you are able to operate in a way that is true to you and best for your clients. 

Find the right business model

The financial world is hardly a one-size-fits-all system. There are so many different types of advisors and systems that dictate the type of work you do and the advice you are able to give. 

Bill discovered these nuances on his journey. After leaving the world of sales and commissions behind, he found work at a firm in LA which allowed him to charge a flat fee for investing but also required him to sell products to clients. 

This part-time fiduciary lifestyle wasn’t working for him because he felt like he was only able to provide the most value for clients on a part-time basis. He knew that his clients deserved more and he had acquired the skills to give them more. This led him to another popular business model, assets under management (AUM).

When Bill began operating under the AUM model, he enjoyed it. Finally, this model offered him a break from selling products to clients and allowed him to start pursuing the financial planning work he had been interested in all along. 

But it didn’t take long for him to realize that AUM didn’t allow the freedom and flexibility to offer the type of comprehensive advice he knew his clients needed. He knew that he wanted to make a change but didn’t know where to start. 

Ask for help

Bill began searching for professional organizations to help, which is when he discovered ACP and the retainer model. Under this model, he was able to provide comprehensive, holistic financial planning services to clients. 

He loved looking at the nuances of each client’s financial landscape and how all the pieces worked together to inform each other—from insurance to risk management to investments to taxes to goals and more.

Our community at ACP is one of the hallmarks of our organization. We love working together to help financial planners and clients have the best experience possible. From training to mentorship to private forums, conferences, and workshops, we provide the space for members to talk, learn, and grow in their professional development.

Trust the journey

One of the most difficult things about changing careers is the unknown. While there is an endless amount of uncertainty in the world, it is important to trust the journey that you are on. If you are true to yourself, you may be surprised where it leads. 

Take Bill who started out working in hardware and eventually co-founded his own financial planning practice. In the podcast, he also mentioned how surprised he was to find that the tax planning portion of his practice ended up being one of the most fulfilling. 

Tax planning, he said, is the most dynamic and interesting part of his job. He loves meeting with clients to devise a tax strategy which saves them money and demonstrates clear, actionable value that his firm provides. For his firm, tax planning is their “superpower,” and allows them to give good guidance and save their clients money. 

When you are true to yourself, you will also find the niche that sets you apart from others. Our goal at ACP is to provide you with the tools, resources, education, and support to help get you there. 

All it took for Bill was one ACP conference and he instantly felt connected to our approach and the way that we help advisors do what they do best: serve clients. 

We love helping members at every stage of their professional journey. Are you ready to see what ACP can do for you? Set up a time to talk with a team member today