Starting a Business as a Financial Advisor

77 million baby boomers need financial advice to be ready for retirement. Are you prepared to provide it?

By Paul and Sarah Edwards • Mar 1, 2004

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you ever asked yourself "Will I have enough money whenI get older?" or "Will I ever be able to retire?"These are questions millions of people ask themselves everyday-financial hotlines hear these inquiries from everyone frommillionaires to people who are financially pressed. And AlanGreenspan's ominous warning about the Social Security systemneeding "reform" swelled these concerns for most of the77 million members of America's boom generation, who, financialplanners say, are saving just one third of what they'll need toretire comfortably.

As a result of these underlying trends, people have a pressingneed for and are seeking knowledgeable and objective professionalfinancial advice. Paula Hogan, a Milwaukee-based certifiedfinancial planner, confirms: "Baby boomers are asking foradvice." And while financial planning used to be a serviceprimarily for the wealthy, financial planners are now servingmiddle class clients, too, a relationship that's most ofteninitiated during a time of some major change like a marriage, apromotion or a death in the family.

While insurance companies and other major concerns are marketingfinancial planning services, the field is still mainly populated byindependent practitioners. People with backgrounds in accounting,law, insurance or banking have a leg up because they usually havesome knowledge of financial planning and financial products. Butthe key characteristics needed, regardless of your priorbackground, are these:

  • The willingness to develop technical expertise and be a junkiefor information because you must stay informed to keep up with achanging field and be a trend spotter for your clients

  • Good listening skills

  • The ability to initiate and develop long-term clientrelationships

  • Personal trustworthiness and the ability to convey that in themanner you present yourself

You'll also need credentials because virtually all statesand the federal government regulate what financial plannersdo-providing investment advice or selling securities or insurance.Licensed accountants and attorneys are able to deal with mostaspects of financial planning with their existing licenses.

Because financial planning is a personal service, the key tobuilding a practice involves generating referrals fromprofessionals such as lawyers and accountants and, later, satisfiedclients. Face-to-face networking in organizations as well asparticipating in business referral organizations are also importantways to jump-start a new practice.

If becoming a financial planner interests you, you can beginyour research by reviewing the information available at the Website (www.cfp.net) of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, whichprovides a directory of education programs located throughout theUnited States.


Paul and Sarah Edwards are the authors of Best Home Businesses for the 21st Centuryand 14 other books.

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