Financial Planner Career Profile

Financial planners, (aka financial analysts/securities analysts/investment analysts), are experts whose skills are used to guide individuals and businesses in their financial management and planning. This is a formal financial advisory role, and the career path revolves on these functions.

The work environment

Financial planners work across the entire spectrum of commercial finance. Whether working for a big pension fund, an investment house or a financial advisory service for individuals, financial planners are engaged in a combination of roles which involves:

  • Analysis of financial data
  • Projections
  • Strategic thinking
  • Working with financial management programs and issues
  • Internal and external client relationships

The traditional financial planner's primary role is as a financial adviser. This fundamental role extends through the entire range of financial planning careers. 

The work is a good indicator of the financial planner's typical functions:

  • Asset and liability valuations
  • Collecting financial data from and for clients
  • Evaluating financial options
  • Evaluating financial products with client feedback
  • Counseling on financial management strategies and issues
  • Creating financial projections, sometimes scenario based
  • Mapping out detailed financial plans

The role is a combination of financial management, counseling, and acting as an information source to clients. The financial planner is expected to be a one stop shop for clients, and for their employers. The responsibilities are considerable, with financial planners often handling cases involving large amounts of money.

The comparatively simple basic processes may involve a range of additional client needs including:

  • Tax liabilities, situations and issues
  • Debt issues
  • Financial asset management
  • Investment
  • Pension plans
  • Superannuation
  • Insurance
  • Business financial strategies

Financial planners are essentially case managers in many ways. No two financial situations are the same, and although generic options like commercial financial packages do exist, each case has to be evaluated on a strictly formal basis. The requirements of the job include a strong element of supporting data, and checking facts. (For example, an old or dubious asset valuation may need to be completely reevaluated to obtain a meaningful figure.) A financial planner's recommendations are often complex, and may involve legal advice and consultation with accountants. Some financial plans, particularly business plans, can be extremely complex, requiring months of hard work.

Salaries: The middle range of salaries is about $70,000, with the upper end of the scale at approximately $150,000. Junior and lower end financial planners earn about $35,000.

Hours: The standard business hours apply in theory, but in practice financial planners may have to schedule meetings with clients outside those hours. Extra work may also blow out the time frames on a needs basis.

The career environment

Financial planners have excellent career prospects. They're much in demand from financial institutions as advisers in wealth creation and other financial initiatives in the industry, which have generated a lot of business in the sector as a whole. Financial planners naturally work with these products, and their expertise and experience is a valuable commodity in career progression. 

Financial planning is one of the biggest expected growth areas of any profession in the US, with growth expected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics expected to average 37% over the decade. Additionally, many financial planners operate private practices. These practices are suitable for experts with a good local market base.