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What’s it really like to be a financial planner?

When many people hear ‘financial planner’, they think of flashy cars and expensive suits. Although this may once have been an accurate representation of the industry, in today’s era it has evolved to become something far more meaningful.

A career in financial planning is about creating sincere connections, and helping people move towards a better life. Andrew Lane, who has been in the financial planning industry for 14 years, and previously worked in life insurance and related industries, says it’s a highly rewarding career. Andrew is currently completing his Graduate Diploma of Financial Planning at Deakin University, while working at Securus Financial Services Pty. Ltd. as a financial planner. His experience gives him many fascinating insights about the profession.

The job demands long hours, both technical and soft skills, and a strong work-ethic, but above all, a care for the clients who put their finances – and by extension, their lives – in your hands. Andrew says at the end of the day, the gratitude of clients and colleagues is the best part of the job.

Here, he reveals what it’s really like to be a financial planner in today’s world.

What led you to becoming a financial planner?

‘Coming from the life insurance industry, I started a Diploma of Financial Services (Financial Planning) back in 1999. I intended to advance my career and to learn how to manage my finances – an interest fuelled by my trust issues when it comes to money.

‘At the same time, I was encouraged by a colleague to become a financial adviser. Coming from a strong client service background and with my interpersonal skills, my colleague recognised I had a unique ability to explain difficult concepts in a simple way to people. In October 2010, I was granted what was known as a proper authority. This kick-started my journey into financial planning.

‘I was a salaried financial planner for most of my career through banks, mortgage brokers and financial planning practices. In February 2019, I finally started my own business with the assistance of another trusted and successful planner.’

What does an average day look like for you?

‘As I am currently in the start-up phase of my own business, my average day entails:

  • studying to complete my Graduate Diploma of Financial Planning, leading into the ethics bridging course, followed by FASEA Financial Adviser National exam sometime over the next 12 months
  • establishing and re-establishing relationships with service and product providers
  • undertaking various forms of compliance and professional development training
  • sourcing and engaging new centres of influence (people to help broaden your reach in attracting new clients)
  • engaging clients
  • day-to-day administration of various financial products for existing clients.

‘I should mention, before I can provide personal advice to retail clients, I need to complete advice compliance vetting through my current Australian Financial Services Licensee (AFSL).’

What do you love most about your job?

‘I love seeking solutions by connecting with people from a highly effective, evolving network of relationships.

‘I love moments such as when the widow of a young female client, with a young child to raise and a mortgage now repaid, says thank you. When another planner says, “Thank you, I did not consider that option, excellent idea.”

‘When I am sitting at a kitchen table getting to know a new client, and I can see everything they treasure and have worked hard for. When I can see a strategy forming, and picture the skills and knowledge I can bring to the table to make a fantastic difference to that client’s world. These are the things I love most about what I do.

‘Planning is not a job, it’s a lifestyle choice, and it’s a rare privilege to be a trusted adviser. It is sitting alongside the client to celebrate their best days, and enduring their worst days with them that amounts to a unique journey.’

'Planning is not a job, it’s a lifestyle choice, and it’s a rare privilege to be a trusted adviser.'

Andrew Lane,
Financial Planner, Securus Financial Services Pty. Ltd.

What are some of the challenges of your job?

‘There are daily challenges when working with people and money. A modern, trusted adviser needs to get to know more about their client than most other professionals ever will.

‘There is the challenge to build enough trust to elicit enough information from potential and existing clients. This information is needed to prepare, present and implement sound, timely, understandable and affordable financial advice that will tangibly improve their situation.

‘At the same time exuding ethics and respecting compliance, while remaining efficient, competent, discreet and commercial. A client’s needs have to come first, yet not to the determent of the adviser who needs to follow closely behind as part of a win-win exchange, as far as realistically possible.’

What are the necessary skills required in your job?

‘This role is most effective when client-friendly soft skills meet technical knowledge, and an attitude of professional conduct.

‘One of the most necessary skills is listening: it’s about speaking less and actively listening to the many messages (verbal and non-verbal) coming from the client.

‘It’s also about what you say, what you do, and promises made – completing a transaction, closing a gap, being able to liaise with and even co-ordinate other professionals.

‘Being savvy with money builds credibility – because how can we honestly advise a client when our own financial situation needs addressing?

‘Being authentic and having the sense to say when you don’t know something, but will find an answer for the client. Sticking your neck out for a client if needed.

‘Most of all self-care is paramount given the inherent hours, risks, pressure and responsibility that comes with being a trusted adviser operating within the many internal and external influences (some within and others outside of our control).’

What school subjects and university qualifications fit this job?

‘Completing Year 12 or equivalent, with a good grounding of business subjects at school, leading into an undergraduate degree majoring in financial planning is a good starting point.

‘From 1 January 2019, new education standards released by the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) require new entrants and existing advisers to have completed a FASEA approved bachelor degree or above, or hold an equivalent qualification.

‘Expect a lifetime of ongoing education and professional development fed by community expectations. We need to be able to deepen our knowledge and skills to remain relevant and contemporary with the future demands of our role, and operate in an ever-changing regulatory environment.’

Want to make a difference to people’s lives through a career in financial planning? Find out how Deakin’s undergraduate and postgraduate courses in financial planning can help.

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