Financial Planner  What They Do

Just the Facts


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dotFinancial planners help clients figure out financial goals. The planner may develop a detailed plan in consultation with the client, complete with goals and a budget. Planners also advise their clients in financial matters. They sell RRSPs, stocks and mutual funds.

dotThese days, more people are turning to financial planners for help on money matters for the future.

"A lot more older people are becoming concerned about their retirement savings," says planner Nicole Whitton.

"Parents are wanting to save for their kids' college tuition and young people are wanting to get a start in life by managing their money carefully. This is one job that isn't going to be short of clients."

dotFinancial planners answer a variety of questions -- everything from where to put savings to how to prepare for retirement. Planners draw on an extensive knowledge of the financial world to advise their clients.

dotThey typically work with clients in six areas:

  • Assessing net worth, and balancing income and expenses
  • Determining how much insurance a client needs
  • Educating the client about finances
  • Preparing tax returns and advising tax strategies
  • Planning for retirement
  • Planning for the dispersal of the estate after the client's death

dotThough the title is deceiving, financial planners deal with much more than money matters. Knowing how to read a client's emotional needs is an essential skill in the field.

dotFinancial planners work in all sectors of the financial services industry. They might have jobs at banks, credit unions or trust companies. They might work at life insurance companies or investment complexes. Many financial planners are self-employed as independent consultants with their own clients.

dotFew financial planners are young. Most of them start out as assistants or as junior workers in other areas of finance or banking. Then, as they gain experience and a client base, they become full-fledged financial planners.

A financial planner has to win the confidence and trust of clients. Many employers think maturity is helpful in this regard.

Whitton says she became a planner after working for eight years with an investment firm. She wanted to better serve her clients.

"Before I took the financial planning course, I was less focused and just wasn't able to assess my clients' needs as well as I can now," she says. "Periodic upgrading is necessary in this job, because there's so much change."

dotWorking hours vary. Because financial planners have to meet their clients to do business, they work when it is easy for people to come and see them. This often includes evenings and weekends.

Becoming a financial planner requires no special physical abilities. Usually, planners work in comfortable offices, and if they're unable to visit their clients, their clients can always visit them.

dotIt's essential for financial planners to stay well-informed. For instance, tax laws can change every year. This means ongoing study.

dotIf you want to make some contacts in the world of financial planning, then don't be afraid to e-mail some of the companies that advertise on the Net. You can find them by using any search engine and using the words "financial planner."

At a Glance

Help clients develop a financial plan for the future

  • Get paid through commissions, salaries, bonuses and fees
  • Stay well-informed and maintain excellent ethical standards
  • Though the field isn't regulated, most financial planners obtain a professional designation


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