Day in the Life of a Financial Planner

Career offers flexibility and control of your time, to a degree

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I knew early on that I wanted a career with people, and that I could never work a typical 9 to 5 job performing many of the same tasks repeatedly over the course of a week. Fortunately for me, I found the best fit for my personality type when I became a financial planner.

If you are someone who likes structure and predictability, then a career in financial planning is not the one for you.

As a financial planner, your primary role is to help your clients realize their financial goals and objectives, and clients are just like snowflakes; there are no two similar clients, which means no two days are alike.

Most mornings I start the exact same way, and that is with a plan for my day.

However, after years of working in financial planning, I accept that no matter how much I plan out a day, it will never turn out quite like I expect. To give you a better idea of what I mean, below are two daily schedules. The first is the one I imagine myself having when I wake up, and the second is closer to reality.


What I Imagine My Day Will Look Like

7:45 am to 8:10 am

Start my day by writing down the list of tasks I want to accomplish today. I review my notes from the previous day, consult my calendar for any upcoming client meetings and determine whom I would like to call or email today.

8:15 am to 8:30 am

Drop my 8-year-old son at the bus stop. One of the great things about being a financial planner is you typically make your own schedule, and I make sure I can fit in this morning time with my son as much as possible.

8:35 am to 10:00 am

I read. I read as many financial sources as possible to get an idea for not only the relevant news of the day, but also factors that may impact my client like a Fed Meeting or corporate earnings. Then I read various personal finance blogs to give me ideas for topics that I can present to my clients.

As a financial planner, you are always looking for ways to help your clients achieve their goals and you never know where you will find your inspiration. It could be from a trade idea you read about on Daily Finance or a money saving idea you read about on a blog.

10:00 am to Noon

Begin to work through the list of emails I need to send or respond to and call or leave voice mails as necessary.

Noon to 1pm

Eat lunch. Typically at my desk and catch up on more news of the day. Sometimes, it is lunch out with a client, though.

1pm to 4pm

Review client portfolios and determine any changes or adjustments that should be made. Work on proposals and agendas for new client meetings. Create monthly or quarterly reports for clients with upcoming meetings.

4pm to 5pm

Finish final preparations for my evening meetings

5pm to 7pm

Client Meetings. Most of my clients work during the day and typically only have time to meet after work or on the weekends. Usually three nights a week I have client meetings. I could have more, but as a working mom and wife, I have committed to only working at night three times a week at most if I can control it. Some weeks may have more, some may have less, but on average, it is three.

The Reality of My Day

7:45 am to 8:10 am

Start my day by writing down the list of tasks I want to accomplish today. I review my notes from the previous day, consult my calendar for any upcoming client meetings and determine whom I would like to call or email today.

This morning planning routine is critical for my day and I make sure that I always fit it in. As a financial planner, the first hour or so of the morning is really the only one you can control, so it is important to make the most of it.

8:15 am to 8:30 am

Drop my 8-year-old son at the bus stop. He doesn't always do this, but every time he turns around, smiles and waves at me before getting on the bus, I tear up. There is no client meeting more important than my son's smile and wave.

8:35 am to 9:15 am

Respond to an email and voicemail from a frantic client over a piece of mail concerning their account that the client got a week ago, but just now opened.

9:15 am to 9:30 am

Watch my client's portfolios drop because of a poor earnings release and remind myself I made the right decisions and there is nothing to worry about (essentially you give yourself the same pep talk you would give your client whose portfolio value has dropped).

9:30 to 10:30 am

Reschedule a client meeting that was planned for the evening but cancelled. I have already calendared and planned for the time away from home, so I try to maximize that time.

11:00 am

Start to prepare for the impromptu client meeting that was just scheduled to replace the cancelled meeting. Some people may like to meet with their planners via Skype or Google Hangout. My clients, no matter their age, like to meet in person, and I insist on meeting with them at least two to three times a year in person.

1pm

Eat lunch at my desk, check the markets, see that they are still red and decide to check out People.com while I eat instead of worrying about something I can't control.

2pm

Respond to a request for information from a new client who was referred to me by another client (greatest request a financial planner can get).

3pm – 4pm

Spend an hour talking to a client who just logged into her account and sees that the markets are down and is thinking about selling. We discuss the nature of the stock market and the fact that she is invested for the long run, so a single day or even multiple days of declines should not frighten her.

5pm

Meeting with the substitute client who mostly wants to talk about the current day's market decline.

Here we go again!

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