Dollars and Cents: Can You Become a Part-Time Financial Planner?

It’s time for another edition of Dollar and Cents. This is where I answer one of your questions.

If you have a question, either use the contact form on the blog or use my Facebook Fanpage.

Today’s question comes from Derek:

Hey Jeff, First thing I want to say great blog! I’m currently in the workforce and entertaining a new profession as a financial planner. I really enjoy keeping up with the markets and many of my friends and co-workers come to me for advice on their investments. I’ve been doing some research in getting in the business and it seems daunting as many of the big brokerage firms want you to work crazy hours the first couple of years. I’m not ready to give up my day job and was considering giving it a go part-time. What do you think about the likelihood of being a part-time a financial planner?

Derek is not the 1st person to ask me about becoming a part-time financial advisor. Many people that have a love for investing, numbers, and helping people have emailed asking me something similar.

To all of those that are interested in the financial planning profession on part-time basis, this video is for you. ;-)

Making sure that I hadn’t missed anything regarding being a part-time financial advisor, I asked some of my colleagues to share their thoughts on the matter.  Here’s some comments from a fellow financial advisor whether you can do it part-time:

Part-time Financial Planning

I think if a person wants to pursue a part-time or “on the side” financial planning business, they need to first decide how they want to do it. Let’s assume for a minute that it’s possible. Do they want to get into financial planning because they think it’s interesting? Because they want to help others? Because they have a personal interest in finances and investing? Or is it something else? None is better or worse than the other, but I think getting clear on this up front will help clarify the rest of the thought process. Also beyond an immediate friends & family circle, how will they market and attract clients?

  • If they want to help others, they can outsource much of the financial planning and investment management (if any) work. In this scenario, they would be relationship managers first and foremost. And if they have capable planning resources that they’re partnering with, this helps address the potential concerns clients may have about working with a “part-time” planner
  • If they want to write plans and get into the technical side of planning, this might work, but I’m skeptical. Outside of a full-time job, how will a person have time to find clients, do the actual planning work, service/keep clients and still have a personal life? I’m not saying it can’t be done, but I think it would be difficult assuming you can even find clients beyond immediate friends and family that would be willing to work with you if you’re doing this on the side. If you’re only spending 20% of your time doing planning work, are you going to only charge 20% of full-time planners’ fees?
  • Also, just because someone has an interest in personal finances, it doesn’t mean they’ll be a good planner. See Michael Gerber’s E-Myth about potential issues when a “technician” that likes to do the work is trying to grow and run a business. It can be a challenge for those not going into it with both eyes wide open.
  • Though not strictly “financial planning,” many professional third party asset management platforms offer a solicitor arrangement where you can setup and manage client portfolios by contract on a per-client basis. This might be another variation on outsourcing some or all of the work I mentioned above

I know I’ve raised more questions that I’ve answered. I’m frankly not sure if it can be done, but rather than assume that it can’t, I think anyone interested needs a thorough understanding of what role they want to play in the financial advice/planning industry before moving ahead.

Resources:

With each Dollars and Cents video we want to provide some follow up links where you can get some additional information on the topic. If you are interested in learning more on becoming a financial planner here are some great reads:

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Comments | 7 Responses

  1. Mike@WeOnlyDoThisOnce says

    I’ll look into your certification tips–great insight, as always. Thanks for this!

  2. BVD says

    Jeff, like Derek, I am in the ‘work force’, specifically in a field that has NOTHING to do with financial planning. One year ago, I passed the CFP exam after studying for 18 months. I have since landed a moonlighting gig with an Ameriprise Advisor, thus made a part time entry to the business. I work nights and weekends, and the odd slow times while on the day job.

    I am not yet licensed and don’t have my CFP credentials yet, but because I am working for a CFP planner I can take the short cut to obtain the certificate.

    So, I am not ‘planning’ but I am working part time in the field with the goal of making a full leap once I build experience and possible buy a book of business

    • says

      @ BVD

      Thanks for sharing your story. I think your approach is spot on on how most people should approach it if they’re not ready to dive in head first.

      Also, kudos for passing the CFP exam prior to getting your gig. You’re definitely committed to eventually doing this. The fact that you have passed the exam should give potential clients some comfort in knowing that you are committed to this.

    • Christian Rosales says

      BVD – I am currenlty in a similiar situation as yourself. Been in the “workforce” for 10 years but considering a move into Financial Planning. Would appreciate any advice/counsel that you may provide as I begin my course towards CFP certification

  3. says

    Jeff,
    I know we’ve chatted about this in the past, and I’m totally with you here. I just met up with a friend who just left an RIA firm and will be starting his own (and only has two more legs of the CFP to finish and get his credentials). He will be sponsoring me for the 65 and 7 licenses, and act as a mentor while he starts to build his book of business. I cannot leave my full-time job at the moment, but the goal is to grow into an Associate Planner that WILL sustain me until I have a book of business enough to transition out to a fully fledged financial planner.

    Does that sound feasible to you? Just wanted insight from an expert in the industry.

    Thanks again!

  4. says

    I couldn’t agree more with your jokingly, yet very serious, comments about “I’d like to manage your money, …but I want to do it part time.” As a young professional in the financial world, I believe there is a stigma to what we do, not because others perceive us as working part-time, but because the American attitude towards money is in fact part-time. The severe lack in responsibility for most people towards tracking their every dollar lessens their view on the impact having good financial sense has on their long term goals, and I think they view our profession as simple also. Advisers who are full-time in our line of work aren’t even always successful, so it leads me to be very concerned if someone wants to only put it half the time. Not to say it can’t be done, because it absolutely can, and I’ve seen it first hand. I would just hate for someone to have interest in our field, try it half halfheartedly, and then fail with great distaste.

    • Rob says

      Jason,
      I think your comment “leads me to be very concerned if someone wants to only put it half the time” is off base. Many of us would live to be able to back up to our early twenties, without the demands of a family and go full time. The problem is it just doesn’t work that way for many of us who are looking to start a new career. I am the primary bread winner and would love to make a wholehearted, full time switch but it’s not an option. So the best I can do is make a Wholehearted, part time switch. Personally I have many reasons, including wanting help people and building a good, residual income. I see the junk that so many companies peddle and it drives me nuts.

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