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8 Powerful Ways to Grow as a Financial Planner

John Eing December 19, 2022

financial planner career growth

Financial planning is inherently a helping profession. I feel fortunate to have a career as a financial planner, dedicating every day to helping others make the best life decisions they can with their money.

I’m also passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the financial planning industry, and currently serve as the co-host of the Asian American Pacific Islander Knowledge Circle for the Financial Planning Association, and as the co-chair of the DEI committee for the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

I’m still on my journey of becoming the best advisor that I can be, but after eight years in this business and 23 years in financial services, I’ve collected some sage advice and would like to pay it forward by sharing it with fellow financial planners like you.

1. See the Importance of Your Relationship with Money

Growing up in an immigrant family, we learned to make the most of everything we had, especially opportunities. In my bio on the Quantum Financial Advisors website, I talk about finding a $100 bill when I fell off my bike as a kid and turning that into martial arts lessons, which ultimately turned into a college education. This taught me that money is not simply currency to buy goods and services. It has the potential to create life-altering opportunities regardless of the amount. The lesson for me was realizing that my decisions around money were far more important than the amount.

This interest in money led me to major in economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and ultimately pursue a career in accounting. Though I enjoyed it, as I progressed in my career, I found something was missing. At the suggestion of a business school alum who is now my business partner, Dave DeWolf, I took a behavioral finance class where I found the missing piece. I realized my early lesson in money was really not about money, but about my relationship with money and how that influences my decisions. This idea has broad application.

2. Focus on Your Ideal Clients

Knowing what I know now, I would tell my younger self to focus on client fit. There is nothing greater and more valuable than having a set of clients you genuinely like and care about. Also, similar to the maximum number of seats on a bus or a plane, each financial planner has a natural limit to the maximum number of clients they can effectively service. Each seat is precious, so be careful who you allow to fill that seat.

3. Realize the Client Is the Hero, You Are the Guide

At Quantum, we believe that the client is the expert when it comes to their life, and we view ourselves as the expert guide who has the right training, expertise, and tools to help them reach their goals. The difference we see when we put the client’s values and goals at the heart of the financial plan is that the numbers serve a more personal purpose than just projections on a screen in that people begin to see their lives in the numbers.

4. Try a Presentation Formula: Pictures, Words, and Numbers

We like to consider ourselves a tech-forward firm, where we see the ideal role of technology as a powerful tool that can enhance the advisor’s ability to meet and exceed our client’s expectations. This is where we find the dynamic nature of our financial planning software so powerful.

In business school, I learned a simple algorithm for making effective presentations: pictures, words, and numbers. Our planning platform allows us to customize a plan presentation based on what communication style resonates most with our clients by allowing us to seamlessly move between pictures and numbers. All we have to do is provide the words.

5. Tell the Story Behind the Data

When I was a young controller at a commercial finance company, one of my responsibilities was to present financial reports to the CEO during the monthly variance report review meeting. At one such meeting, the CEO kindly let me know that he, too, can read the numbers on the report, and what would be more helpful is if I could tell him what the numbers meant for the business.

I never forgot this lesson. I apply it every time I present a financial plan to a client. The dynamic nature of the eMoney Decision Center allows me to tell my clients exactly what the numbers mean for them, making it my favorite financial planning tech feature.

6. Be the Change You Want to See

As a tireless advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the financial planning industry, I will keep finding ways to advance the cause. Currently, I think there are a lot of great programs out there such as the BLX Internship and CHIP Professionals, and the efforts being made by organizations such as NAPFA and the FPA that will help move the industry toward the CFP® Board reaching its goal of having a planning workforce that better reflects the population over time.

The one idea these different initiatives all share is bringing awareness to the importance of representation. As they say, you have to see it to be it, and I believe that by continuing to promote women and advisors of color in marketing campaigns such as the CFP® Board’s “I am a CFP® Pro” campaign, as well as bringing in diverse speakers at conferences and universities, can help make the profession a more open and accessible career option.

7. Build Your Cultural Consciousness

I believe that financial planning is about people, and oftentimes a person’s core values can be shaped by their cultural values. For example, in many Asian cultures, the eldest child is expected to care for the parents, which would make the cost of support a fixed expense.

Now imagine you were not aware of this fact, and as you are working with a client in this situation on their financial plan, you recommend reducing support to their parents so they can put more money away in a retirement account. I would imagine the client in this case would not be fully aligned with this recommendation.

Understanding cultural values can make you a better financial planner. Not only because you would know that parental support is a non-negotiable, fixed item on a financial plan for a certain clientele, but more importantly because it would allow you to really see and hear your client by asking better questions about their life, and ultimately help them make the best decisions for their future.

8. Support Financial Education

Given the many issues that stem from a lack of financial literacy, it is encouraging to hear that several states are mandating personal finance education for students. I believe that increasing access to financial education can lead to higher levels of thinking around personal finances, which can ultimately lead to better outcomes that have a positive ripple effect on our communities.

Increased financial education in schools will also help the next generation of financial planners, as they will potentially have clients who are much more informed about the way our financial system works and hopefully are less mystified by the stock market. As a result, they will be more engaged in goal-based financial planning versus stock picking, allowing planners to demonstrate true value creation.

DISCLAIMER: The eMoney Advisor Blog is meant as an educational and informative resource for financial professionals and individuals alike. It is not meant to be, and should not be taken as financial, legal, tax or other professional advice. Those seeking professional advice may do so by consulting with a professional advisor. eMoney Advisor will not be liable for any actions you may take based on the content of this blog.

The views and opinions expressed by this blog post guest are solely those of the guest and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of eMoney Advisor, LLC. eMoney Advisor is not responsible for the content, views or opinions presented by our guest, nor may eMoney Advisor be held liable for any actions taken by you based on the content, views or opinions of the guest.

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About the Author

John Eing, CFP®, CPA, MBA, is the chief strategy officer and a partner at Quantum Financial Advisors in southern California. As a financial advisor, John is passionate about helping his clients thrive by bringing clarity to their financial lives and allowing them to do what they love most. He also serves as the co-chair of NAPFA's Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee and was recently recognized by the editors of Financial Planning magazine as one of the 22 professionals who will transform wealth management in 2022. John earned his MBA from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA, and a B.A. in economics from UC Berkeley.

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