If you had five seconds to name a famous fictional financial advisor, could you do it? Now, try to think of a friendly fictional financial advisor. (Tough, isn't it?) Characters like Jacob Marley and Ebenezer Scrooge don't exactly make the best mascots. The truth of the matter is finance is fun, and the financial management business is booming! So, it should come as no surprise that recruiters in the wealth management industry are looking for dynamic, flexible, outgoing young people.
Banks are becoming competitive in asset management, which is why we're seeing an increase in job opportunities. When the recession hit four years ago, the public learned that the economy can be volatile. Unanswered questions about retirement plans, rising healthcare costs, and unexpected expenses were a shock, which lead people to start creating financial strategies.
According to Brent Allen, regional director with Investors Group in London, Ontario, people have started taking the time to make sure they understand their financial situation. More importantly, they realize that they can't do it alone. You really need someone to sit down with you and build a detailed, written financial plan that is flexible. Circumstances can change, and wealth management advisors help their clients adapt to stay on track.
Speaking of change, Allen has seen mortgage rates fluctuate dramatically over the past decade. [And] we didn't have a tax-free savings account when I started in 2004, but they introduced it in 2008. The people coming into our industry have to be willing to embrace ongoing learning because every year, every budget, something comes out and you have to adapt, and continue to retain and upgrade your knowledge.
The most in-demand position in wealth management is financial consulting, and it's more than just negotiating numbers and figures. Stocks and trades may make up the transaction side of the business, but financial planners are in the interaction business. We really deal with the people'their emotions, goal planning, goal setting, and answering more complicated questions like where to invest your money.
Allen adds that working for an independent planning company means you build your own practice and, in turn, create your own schedule. Young financial planners have the added bonus of being able to build their client base over multiple generations. That's something that a tenured senior advisor simply can't do.
Cliff Demarest is the managing principal of Consilium Wealth Advisory. He specializes in assisting affluent clients with estate planning, credit work, bill payments, even vacation planning. We go in and we find small, tiny things like credit card fees, better cell phone plans, better places to buy all the materials for the lavish party they're having, he says. Even the wealthy overspend.
Wealth advisors handle accounts in the multi-millions, making this a pressure-filled career. In order to reduce the stress involved, mitigating risks as a team is of the utmost importance. You need to be a collaborative, team-oriented person, says Demarest. The most prominent feature of that is sharing the stress and the workload with a series of other people, but you also create plans for what you're doing on any one project or any one client. He adds that by showing people these plans, showing the progress, and getting feedback, others feel reassured which alleviates stress overall.
Each client has different needs, so you have to adjust accordingly. Demarest finds that his firm often goes above and beyond for high-profile patrons. Quite frankly, [some of our] clients have businesses and many times they're not social media savvy. We train them, and sometimes their people, on how to use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and many times we design websites for people and connect them with experts. While it can be a time-consuming process, he says clients appreciate the extra effort.
Demarest recommends picking up the Wall Street Journal (or the Report on Business in the Globe and Mail as a Canadian equivalent) to get a sense of what's going on in various markets. As for education, there are plenty of options. The degrees that people look for today in financial services are the CFA (Chartered Financial Analysts), the CFP (Certified Financial Planner), and then the most recent one (and gaining popularity very quickly) is the CPWA (Certified Personal Wealth Advisor).
But it's not about academics alone. He also suggests studying economics and applying for an internship with a brokerage firm, money manager, or bank. A finance background is definitely an asset, but it's not the only thing potential employers are looking for.
Allen says he looks for well-rounded team players, those with resum├®s that include extracurricular activities and volunteer experience. Also, student job fairs are great for getting your foot in the door, but you should avoid being too casual. Have a firm handshake, say hello, introduce yourself, tell them that you're looking at their firm, and that you're interested in what opportunities might be there.
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