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Financial Planning:
Facts and Trends

A Helpful and Important Profession
Financial planners help people plan their finances in light of their income and assets. This involves programs for investments. Some planners work on their own and offer workshops that teach people how to handle their own finances. Other planners run businesses or are employed by insurance companies and financial service companies (e.g., investment services companies, investment banks and commercial banks) and sell their company's financial products. Such products might include family budgeting schemes, mutual funds, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), insurance, real estate, or tax-sheltered investment plans.

Financial planners help each person with their financial situation - current and long-term. The job of the financial planner is to help each person decide what kinds of investments are best and what is the right amount. They advise on both where to put money as well as when to spend it on items like housing, education and retirement.

In order to be effective, financial planners must be familiar with legal restrictions and laws concerning retirement plans, tax shelters, insurance, and trusts. They must be skilled at working with numbers and budgets and be able to understand complicated financial and legal documents. In addition, they should be articulate, persuasive, and have some decent selling ability.

Financial Planning is Hot
U. S. News and World Report listed the position of financial planner as one of the twenty hottest professions for the future. They note that the entry of baby-boomers into middle age with a bewildering array of investment choices will make financially planning a really hot profession in the future. This said, financial planners interviewed recently point out that getting a solo practice going as a financial planner today can be difficult and highly competitive.

Pay Attention to the Details
To make it in financial planning you need to know the details of various investments, tax law, estate planning strategies and you need to be good at marketing yourself and listening to your customers.

High Growth Expected in Financial Planning
The field of financial planning is expected to experience substantial future growth, but it's a hard field to start in because most financial planners work in entrepreneurial one or two person shops and have difficulty affording new hires. Getting that crucial starting experience is the hardest part.

Quite a Few Financial Planners Already
According to the Consumer Federation of America there are over 250,000 financial planners. The largest company in the field is IDS Financial Services, a division of American Express.

CFP Can Help as a Financial Planner
Financial planners are increasingly called on to have the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) designation. To become a CFP, you must past an exam approved by the CFP Board of Standards which covers over 175 topics in investing and financial planning. Today, there are approximately 59,000 CFP's. The number has more than doubled in the last decade.

Get Involved
If you are interested in breaking into financial planning (even as a student) you would benefit by attending local chapter meetings of financial planner organizations. The best way to find out the identity of a local chapter is through any of the three national financial planner organizations: (1) Institute for Certified Financial Planners (303) 751-7600, (2) International Association for Financial Planning (404) 395-1605 or (3) National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (708) 537-7723.

High Net Worth Individuals are a Key Target
A growth area in financial planning and money management is targeting the high net worth individual. PSI, a financial services consultant, estimates that over 4 million US households have a net worth in excess of $1 million.

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