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Am I Nuts?

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Jan 27, 2014 11:57 pm

I would greatly appreciate some honest feedback.

I am a 45-year old lawyer with a very stable job making really good money, but I hate my job (which has nothing to do with money or financial planning).

I love budgeting, financial planning, researching stocks, and the such. Several co-workers and many family members use me as an informal financial advisor because they know how interesting I find it all. As a hobby, I run a niche investing website. I have this fantasy about becoming a financial planner "for real." I think I would really enjoy it and be satisfied with it in ways that my current job could never provide. It would combine my interests with my skills -- I truly like, and am really good at, working one-on-one with people, am good at explaining complicated topis in simple terms. 

So I've been considering starting with the CFP. I think I can get through the test without any problems. But passing the test is only the start -- I'll need years of experience after that to get the certification. That is the part that I can't figure: Who is going to hire me so that I can start getting the necessary experience? Who hires a 47 year old (by the time I get through the test) career switcher who has just passed the CFP exam?

Do I have any hope at all of gainful employment if I make the switch? Or should I just shut up and grind out the next 20 years at a (lucrative) job that I hate?

Am I nuts?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Jan 28, 2014 3:54 pm

CFP requires 3 years of experience in financial planning…so it’s not really a situation where you can take the tests and then start applying for jobs.

that being said, a good amount, maybe even the majority of advisors are career switchers, and if it’s something you think you truly would enjoy, then by all means, life is to short to be in a job you don’t like. Forewarning, the first couple years isn’t the fun stuff…it’s not the stock picking and financial planning, it’s sales. Hardcore asset gathering sales before you get into the fun aspects of it all.

Most companies will usually give you a comperable base to get you started, especially as a lawyer, because you’ve got a ton of past connections that will help you get going.

If it’s something your truly thinking about, reach out to someone local to you, if you have a Morgan Stanley, Merril Lynch, etc. near you, give them a call and just say you want to sit down with someone and pick their brain about the career, I’ve never met anyone that wouldn’t be glad to take 30-60 minutes out of their day to talk about the career and what it entails.

Jan 28, 2014 7:53 pm

Just like what PA stated, give it a shot if it is what you are passionate about. Actually, I think you would be an ideal candidate for most large BDs and IARs. Being a successful lawyer means that you have a large book of business of high net worth clientele to prospect. If you did a great job handling their cases and building rapport; then you should find it easy to transition them into a strong book.

Also, I would not think about the CFP, ChFC, etc… until you have passed the 7 and 66. Most places like a Morgan, Merrill, WFA, etc… have a New Advisor Program that helps you transition from a lawyer into a financial advisor. So you should not have a hard time finding a willing employer. Anyways, what I am trying to say is," you are in a great position, and good luck."

Feb 12, 2014 4:14 pm

I am n the process of doing just what you want to do so I’ll throw in my two cents. I was working in media buying for 10 years when I decided to make the switch to financial planning. Definitely not as successful as you and a bit younger but wanted to make a major change. So I took the CFP and then looked for work. There are jobs out there for you to gain experience and you probably have many of the skills needed from being a successful lawyer.

My suggestion would be to find a job - it will be sales and mostly commission but again I think you have many of the skills needed. Whoever you sign up with will require series 66, series 7, and other exams so you will start with those. you can simultaneously work on the CFP classes.

If you want some knowledge of the topics first and want the CFP first, it wasn’t a bad process - just know it won’t land you a job. Your skills will. And you still need all the other licensing exams.

Also - don’t underestimate the CFP exam - it was like taking the BAR exam but with only 5 classes of education to support you so if you start with that, take it seriously, do a review course (I highly recommend Dalton), and put in the hours!

Good Luck!

Feb 13, 2014 2:00 am

Farmer/Attorney John – just a quick clarification. You say you like the aspect of advising but you really like the niche investing website. Is there hope in running the website and making a lucrative future that route? If not, dealing with people is a great thing. Also, many firms will be willing to hire you as they see you as great potential to get in front of your current peers – which are high income, lucrative folks just like you. Sounds like a really good scenario for someone. If I could hire you, I would put you on the short list of interviewees.