I have been in the same position, as a financial planner, since March 2008. Since then, I have established great relationships with several of my clients. At some point, we start talking about real business relationships. What I really like about my job is that since we talk about personal finance, we can easily jump into personal side-discussions after having demonstrated a few retirement graphs. Most of my clients know that I have completed the MBA and now that it is finished as of September 2009: they all ask me the very same question:
“With this new diploma, don’t tell me that you will stay as a financial planner. What are you going to do next?”.
There are 2 things I found funny about this question:
#1 They see my job as a “deluxe” vacuum salesman due to the bad press about financial advisors in general. I must say that it is hard to find a good financial advisor ! So once they know me and they know that I have an MBA, all my clients think that I will get a promotion. Being a financial planner is just not good enough for the MBA 😉 hahaha!
#2 Most people obviously attribute more value to a title or the level of responsibility that comes with it as compared to the unseen quality of life underlying a “simple” job. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I think I help people with their finances. But in order to help them, I have to “sell” products to them. I guess these same people would see doctors the same way if we had to pay the doctors’ employers for any kind of medicine they want us to take (for our own good 😉 ).
The reality is that being a financial planner is really cool!
It is true that I don’t have the “director” sign under my name, that I am not in charge of any employees and that I actually don’t have much latitude when it is time to take a decision exceeding the scope of my office. However, I have gained a remarkable quality of life with flexible hours, the ability to work 4 days a week, by being responsible for my results and to my clients (both of which are under my control unlike a group of 30 employees!).
But the most important part of all is that when I close my laptop on Friday, I know that I don’t have to open it until Monday. I don’t have to think about anything during the weekend, bring work home or make phone calls on Sunday morning to make sure everything is under control. I just have time to spend with my wife and children.
By writing this post, I am not trying to convince to become a financial advisor (trust me, life is not always that easy!) but more to consider what your job implies with regards to quality of life instead of looking at the prestige and the compensation.
I once wanted to become a VP and have worked very hard to get promotions and have established my network ensure I would get THE job one day. But in the meantime, I have realized how much time I have invested in my career in order to get here.
Since time can not be expanded, if you are concentrate on your career, this means less time spent everywhere else (sleep, family, friends, health, etc). I have decided to work on the 20%  exclusively and spend the rest of my time with the family.
While I won’t become rich by the age of 30, I am sure that my career as a financial planner combined with my company’s progress will definitely bring me financial independence fast enough. I am done running after dollars, I prefer running after my kids on the soccer field!