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A day in the life of a financial planner (part 1)

15 March 2018Myra Knoesen

What do financial advisers do? The basic requirement, according to Mark P. Cussen, a Certified Financial Planner and author of ‘A Day in the Life of a Financial Adviser’, is technical knowledge in the areas of finance in which they practice, but true professional competency requires much more.

In fact, Cussen states that financial advisers must wear many hats to do their jobs effectively, and those considering this field as a career should study what the day-to-day lives of advisers are really like.

The daily schedule

The average financial adviser’s day, according to Cussen, usually begins early and often runs into evening hours, especially for those who are new in the industry.

Cussen mentions the daily schedule of a typical adviser usually will include the following:

  • Prospecting –The method and amount of this will depend largely upon the circumstances of the adviser. A newly minted professional with no book of business to draw from can expect to spend at least half of every day pounding the pavement in one way or another, either by developing a referral network or visiting with prospects in person. Those who start out with a warm market in which to prospect will be spending a fair amount of time interacting with these people. Other modern methods include establishing a strong digital presence and writing a blog.
  • Servicing current clients –As advisers build up their book of business, their focus will gradually begin to shift from acquiring new business to servicing current customers. Many established advisers will begin their day by reviewing client portfolios, answering client inquiries and addressing outstanding issues before moving on to new business. Most established advisers will tell you that this approach is the best way to generate new business because clients who receive excellent service are happy clients (who will make referrals).
  • Administrative chores –Although this often can fall under the category of servicing clients, any prospective adviser should be prepared to spend a material segment of their work day dealing with bureaucratic tasks such as compliance reports, updating client records, processing trade tickets, and dealing with other recordkeeping procedures. It probably should be said here that the majority of successful advisers are able to retain a fairly large amount of detail in their heads on an on-going basis.
  • Financial planning –While this may seem obvious, you will have to make time to deliver your core goods and services to your clientele — and this can be difficult to fit into your schedule at times. Entering data into financial planning or tax programs can be a long and tedious process and requires excellent attention to detail. Even those who pay others to do the data entry portion of this will have to closely monitor this process.
  • Continuing education –This inescapable element of financial planning can go considerably beyond the mere satisfaction of industry or credential educational requirements to include investment and product research. Many securities and insurance vehicles require specific training before the vendor will approve the adviser to sell them. Some advisers frequently attend week-long seminars that cover specialised topics or continue earning new designations to provide the level of service their clients need. This cannot only be time consuming but also expensive in some cases. 

As you would expect, the other — and most important — element of any financial adviser’s job, Cussen says, is building and managing client relationships. This begins with creating a professional impression during the prospecting phase, delivering what you promise during the planning phase and keeping in touch with them on an ongoing basis. And of course, this can be a real challenge at times.

In part two of the article we take a look at what a typical day looks like in the life of a financial planner.

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