Start a business that offers personal and professional growth.

financial planningOriginally, people went to CPAs for financial planning advice. Seeing the potential and the consumer demand for those types of service, many people began to offer retirement planning, investment planning, insurance planning and other areas of financial planning advice believed to be services that could be sold to consumers. Unfortunately, some of those people disguised the sale of financial products with claims of selling financial planning advice.

A true financial planner is a professional who helps you organize your finances, projects the results of your savings and investments so you can see how well  you’re prepared for retirement, and other financial challenges you’ll encounter in life. His purpose should be to help you make decisions with your money that help you reach your financial goals.

 Who a consumer should select to get real financial advice?

There are people who call themselves financial advisors or financial planners interchangeably. But financial planners are not all alike. Some financial planners look to sell you financial products, like mutual funds or other investment vehicles. And, a portion of their fee is based on the commissions they earn on those products. You may think you’re speaking with a financial advisor, when you are really speaking with a salesman.

Salesmen  offer little or no real financial planning advice, but rather look to earn commissions on sales of financial products. Fee only financial planners should be your choice, because they will collect data about you and your goals. That data will be analyzed to create projections that show you how you can accomplish those financial goals. The problem for consumers remains how to select someone truly offering realistic advice, without a bait and switch mentality. Thanks to the powers that be, there is a group of people with the education, experience and a certification allowing you the comfort of knowing you are being advised properly. Those people are called Certified Financial Planners or CFPs.

Becoming a CFP can be beneficial for both you and your clients

Few professions offer advice useful, both personally as well as professionally. A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) has the ability to have attractive earnings working alone. And, the capacity to become wealthy by opening a firm.  If you have a CFP designation, it’s a great way to start a business. Unlike CPAs, who deal with businesses almost exclusively, except for those with a personal tax practice, this business can be started alone. Straight accounting or audit work is typically labor intensive. A good financial planner delivering consistent and positive results can do well with just a few high end clients. If you prefer to start a firm of CFPs this may be done in a number of ways. You may choose to go into a professional association with other CFPs with similar goals or buy into an existing practice.

The American Public has a growing need for financial planning.  At a time when the number of people reaching retirement age is at an all-time high, both you and your clients benefit from the improved quality of advice offered by CFPs. And, attaining the CFP designation shows potential clients you have the expertise they need. You might waste your credentials working for someone else. And, do fine with a job, but if you want to do better, start your own firm. You can offer your financial planning services to businesses as well as individuals.

How to establish your financial planning business

If you’re already working for a firm of financial planners, stay there. If not, do everything you can to get a job with one. A material part of offering quality services to your clients in your own private practice or your own firm is to gain experience.  CFPs generally cannot be certified without at least three years of experience. To even discuss becoming a CFP, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree.  addressing a potential client’s concerns you have the education to offer financial planning advice. And, your certification is a statement you are a recognized professional, consumers can trust.

Stop and take an inventory of your skills. You must then decide who would most want the services you plan to offer. Even after passing the exam, most people find there are areas in their knowledge base that could stand improvement. You may understand investment planning but not be as strong when it comes to retirement planning. After addressing your weaknesses make a commitment to continue learning for the rest of your career. Don’t limit that to your continuing professional education requirements. Financial planning strategies change as the economy changes and as influenced by other factors. Stay on top of the demands of your profession, because above all a CFP should be an educator, advising clients on how to reach their financial goals.

Niches can get you Riches

There’s no question everyone needs financial planning services. Trying to sell to everyone doesn’t work in other businesses why should you try to do it with your financial planning business. A great starting point would be to look at the types of clients you served while you were working with an employer. Doctors typically have significant earnings, and you may consider designing your practice around their unique financial planning needs. If you were serving attorneys, design your practice around their financial planning needs. If you were offering financial planning advice to high income athletes or entertainers it may be best if you stay with those niches. Everyone needs financial planning but not everyone can afford to pay for it. Unless you’re so well off you can afford to offer advice without being payed, develop a niche.

The development of a niche may be the most important step you take when you decide to offer services on your own. Once the decision is made on who you’ll target as clients, realize there are issues those people share. Find out what those common threads are and learn as much about them as your potential clients know. Be able to hold a conversation with them about their pain points knowing it’s what they talk about all the time. Experience with clients you served at your former or current employer should give you that edge. Demonstrating you understand your clients needs goes a long way, and can solidify your relationship with them. If you try to sell to everyone, you can’t possibly learn everything everyone talks about.

Planning for the Implementation of Your financial planning practice.

Having determined what you’re most comfortable doing, and who’s most likely to buy it, it’s time to make the first draft of your business plan. Starting any business without a plan is a mistake. A material part of your business planning must include how you plan to get new business. If you’re still employed, plan for how you’ll deliver services to your clients outside of work hours. Or if you plan to hire financial planners to offer services under your name. Which I don’t think would be a good option when you’re just starting out. Networking should be a material part of your marketing plan. Referrals from other professionals like CPAs, attorneys, sports and entertainment managers and others can go a long way. You can’t get referrals if they don’t know you.

It takes a while to get client referrals through networking, so you need more to get your first clients. A search engine optimized website can work but unfortunately they take a while to yield results as well. A good thing about financial planning is that you can build a respectable practice with a few high end clients. And, sometimes a client from your former employer may insist they stick with you when you leave your employer. I discourage getting clients this way but sometimes it’s beyond your control. Offering luncheons and workshops can get you some clients short term. But getting your initial clients is difficult for everyone. Just be certain not to hang out your shingle until you see how you’ll pay your bills. And, be cognizant of any non-compete pacts you signed with any employer you’ve left or plan to leave. In developing your plan, it must be flexible, as it may require updates as soon after you open.

Determine Your Equipment Needs

And, plan to pay for it with your own saved money, elbow grease, and/or through use of the Saafenet five (5) point fundraising plan. The Saafenet training manual will show you how to completely establish the foundation for any service business which will include addressing both your equipment as well as research needs. During a 120 day start-up period, recommended in this manual, you would develop a business plan.  Using  Word Press, you would develop a blog or a website. And, you might define what research tools you need which would likely include a computer and printer and specific reference material. A step by step plan is laid out for you in the Saafenet training manual to accomplish those tasks.

Should you need professional advice f0r projecting the right image, a website and specific direction on how to operate your personal practice, contact the advisors at Saafenet. They offer several levels of start-up packages for new entrepreneurs that include a website, and advice for operating your practice successfully offline. And, the costs are thousands of dollars below market rates allowing you to become a practicing CFP without spending every waking moment in research or spending every dollar you have, to get started.

Having Developed Your Plan, take a serious look at your ability to finance it.

There are many ways to finance a financial planning practice. However, there are three methods you should avoid. Borrowing from a financial institution is great once you get underway. However, it should not be used for startup. Because, the only assurance you’ll have is  you’ll need to make regular loan repayments. This can be bad when you’re having a bad month which is a high probability when your practice is new. Investors can cause the same problem, as well as other problems. If you’ve accepted a royalty arrangement with them, they can worry you to death about their royalty payments. And, if they have a general or specific lien against the assets of your company you can’t afford to be late with agreed upon payments.

Finally, there are few startup grants and it may be difficult to get one for a professional services operation. If you find a grant for starting a financial practice it’s OK to try to get it, but realistically, you should not count on getting it quickly. Since much of the work you do may be done at your clients home or business you can shave costs by working from home. Financial planners have to present themselves as though they have money, or your clients won’t be confident you can help them manage theirs.

Preparing to open for business

As you moved near your grand opening, you would send out announcement cards and develop a comprehensive networking strategy. You may even want to consider offering workshops and cold calling to get your initial clients. Online, begin to develop a content marketing strategy for your website, and perform other actions to begin to get clients. Also look for an SEO company with a proven track record to get your services advertised in search engines. You must pay attention to networking and firm up relationships with potential clients increasing the probability they’ll select you to do their financial planning work. Sometimes your local libraries will allow you to hold free seminars and work shops in their facilities. They may even provide you with equipment to show images or films. To start your own practice you must do whatever is ethical to get clients because without them you don’t have a practice.

If you don’t have a certification but enjoy working with people as well as organizations, you may consider Sitting for and passing the exam, getting the required experience, then starting your own practice. If this is not where your interest are, and you’re unwilling to meet the requirements to do this, you may consider sitting for the SEE examination and becoming certified as an IRS Enrolled Agent.

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