I was 25 years old when the stock market crashed. Barely earning $30,000 per year, my savings account was thin, and I worried about losing my job.
It was hard to ignore the media’s predictions of doomsday scenarios and how we needed to protect ourselves. So, when I witnessed a 50% drop in my meager retirement savings account, I panicked.
Luckily, one of my friends knew a financial planner at a nearby firm. If he couldn’t help, he would know of someone who could, she assured me.
So I nervously emailed a list of my modest assets to a stranger, feeling optimistic as I hit send.
My confidence dwindled in the days that followed.
After two weeks, I finally accepted that a response wasn’t going to come. Later I realized my lack of assets made me an unattractive prospect to most financial planners. I eventually took matters into my own hands. I became self-educated about finances and started a personal finance blog.
. . .
Many years later, the familiar sting of this incident surfaced at FinCon, the annual personal finance blogger conference. I had been blogging about money for just under a year when I heard a talk from Alan Moore, co-founder of XY Planning Network, a network of financial planners serving Generation X and Generation Y clients.
An entire network of fee-only financial planners dedicated to serving Generation X and Generation Y clients? Where was XY Planning Network when I needed them?
Something clicked as Alan finished his speech. “You’re already giving money advice on your websites. Have you considered becoming a financial planner?”
The average person faces a lifetime of complex financial decisions. These choices include everything from buying a home, saving for a child’s education, sifting through insurance plans, planning for retirement, and much more. Advice from an unbiased professional, like a fee-only financial planner, can make navigating decisions like these a lot less stressful.
Who is the Average CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Certificant
I was shocked by the profile of the average CFP® certificant. They are currently only 23.13% women, and this percentage has been flat for at least a decade.
This led to the Center for Financial Planning’s comprehensive research study to figure out why this shortage exists. The study uncovered “Women’s lack of awareness and misconceptions about financial planning and the CFP® certification process”. Additionally, the CFP Board found that “Women’s reluctance to take professional risks may be keeping them from entering the profession”.
Women can’t afford not to become more educated about financial planning. Challenges like the gender pay gap, time out of the workforce for caregiving, longer life expectancy, and the retirement savings gap are an unsustainable combination.
When I realized the financial planning field needs more people like me, I became even more motivated.
Pursuing the CFP Certification as a Career Changer
Changing careers from another field is never easy, and pursuing my CFP® certification is no exception. My experience writing about personal finance has cultivated the desire not only to empower myself, but also to help those around me.
However, financial planning is not a career where you become an overnight success. It’s important to know getting your foot in the door may require taking a pay cut or working in a sales or support role for a few years.
The Road to Becoming a CFP Professional
Although I’m only two courses into the education requirement, I have struggled to balance the rigorous coursework with a full-time job and side business. The sheer volume of material can feel overwhelming, and passing the CFP® Exam is daunting. However, like many challenging experiences, I am more confident in the process than before I started.
The coursework includes seven individual classes including:
- Introduction to financial planning
- Risk management
- Tax planning
- Retirement planning and employee benefits
- Estate planning
- Capstone project
These college-level financial planning programs are designed to help you deliver professional, competent, and ethical financial planning services to clients.
In order to meet the CFP Board’s education requirement, you also need a bachelor’s degree (or higher) from a regionally-accredited college or university.
Why Becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ is Worth It
In a world dominated by a 24-hour news cycle, constant social media notifications, and never-ending sources of information, Americans are more overwhelmed than ever about where to turn for honest, trustworthy money advice.
I started blogging about money with a desire to connect with others through my story. Now that I have been writing about personal finance for a few years, I’m ready to take it a step further. I’m particularly eager to work with women, minorities, and average earners who may have been underserved by the financial services industry in the past.
By earning the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification, the recognized standard in personal financial planning, I’m confident I can add a voice of credibility to the crowded world of money advice. My ultimate goal is becoming a fee-only planner, so I can offer unbiased advice. I still have years of this journey ahead of me, but I have no doubt the hard work and sacrifices will be worth it.
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Kate Dore is the founder of Cashville Skyline, a personal finance blog for creative professionals. She is pursuing the CFP® designation through Boston University’s online program.