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Op Ed: How Traveling Makes a Better Advisor

Clients can only benefit when their advisors have a broad, practical understanding of the world.

There aren’t too many professions out there that afford the privilege of hiking among the saguaro cacti in Arizona, riding horseback in the Rockies and admiring centuries-old Pueblo rock carvings without missing a step at work. As a CFP Professional in a distributed workforce, I enjoy the freedom to pursue incredible travel opportunities, and those opportunities have added a new dimension to the service I can offer to my clients.

If this sounds like a humblebrag for an adventure through the American Southwest I never thought would happen … well, it might be, a little. But seriously, there’s a world of difference between hearing industry leaders talk about advice untethered by geography, and experiencing the reality of it as an advisor with the freedom to travel at will. I know there are a lot of advisors who are curious about how this arrangement works. I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned as a result of the career opportunity as a lead planner at Facet and as a remote employee.

More flexibility for everyone

Clients expect to fit financial advice into their lives as they need it, instead of bending their schedules around nine-to-five office hours. I’m free to serve clients at times that make sense for their financial lives. But on-demand service has perks for advisors, too.

It goes without saying that I appreciate the ability to fit my work into my life, and I want to grow as a professional with a company that affords me this flexibility. When I can set my own schedule, it means I can fit work into my life in a way that gives me space to pursue my passions—or even take care of car inspections or other unexpected things that might otherwise throw off my whole week. I have more energy to give to my clients and myself.

Have laptop, will travel

When it comes right down to it, I can give my clients holistic financial planning anywhere, as long as I have a secure internet connection. If you’re hungry to get out there and create your own experiences, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better work structure.

I’m not saying this is an arrangement that will make sense for everyone. But I am saying I don’t have to limit a “vacation,” or just experiencing life, to a weekend. Whether it’s New Orleans, San Antonio, Tampa or Tulsa, I’ve been able to explore the U.S. and stay at a destination as long as I like. Beyond sightseeing and immersing myself in the local flavor, this balance of work and wanderlust gives me the time to understand a region’s cost of living, housing market, standards and unique culture. I can meet people from all walks of life and truly understand their hopes and needs.

Seasoned service

This kind of lived experience is as good as gold to the people who seek out advisors. Our clients can only benefit when their advisors have a broad, practical understanding of the world. They want answers to questions like, “Would it be financially possible to move my family to a new city? Would we be happy there? What trade-offs would we have to make?” It would be harder for me to answer these questions if my work and life did not extend beyond a small bubble around a single office. For that matter, if my clients decide to relocate, I can continue serving them without breaking stride, thanks to the remote nature of my work.

And beyond big moves, like choosing retirement destinations or following their careers (or children) to new homes, many clients could use a hand in achieving the everyday life experiences that are important to them. Vacations and road trips are valuable and immediate parts of your clients’ lives, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn’t value some help with planning and paying for them. The people I work with aren’t millionaires. They don’t have bottomless bank accounts. I’ve learned they deeply appreciate an advisor who can say, “I’ve done something like what you want to do. Based on my experiences, here is how you can budget and fit your travel plans into your life.”

(I mean, maybe not everyone is going to be as excited as I was to tour the American International Rattlesnake Museum. But you get the idea.)

Our work demands a lot of listening, understanding and teaching. Clients want our help to buy houses, put their kids through college, and make the most of their lives in the present and in the time to come. When we can fortify our advice with the experience that comes from broadened horizons, and the flexibility that comes from meeting our clients wherever and whenever they need, we can give them even more insights to make the best possible decisions for their financial lives.


Danielle Cole is a lead planner for Facet Wealth and is a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) professional with 20 years of experience. Prior to joining Facet, Danielle worked with several large investment firms as a financial planner for high-net-worth clients and has given seminars on financial planning issues for women and health care reform.

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