What Does a Financial Planner Do? (With Skills and Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Managing financial resources can be challenging for individuals without specialised financial skills and education. Financial planners help individuals and investors manage their financial resources and wealth, providing guidance and helping create financial goals. Understanding the purpose of a financial planner and what skills they possess can help you determine if a career in financial management is a good career choice. In this article, we answer the question, 'What does a financial planner do?' by looking at key duties, skills, qualifications and other career info.

What does a financial planner do?

If you're interested in this career, you may wonder, 'What does a financial planner do?' Financial planners are finance professionals who provide money management services and guidance to clients. They assess client finances and make plans for investments, retirement, and savings. Typically, a financial planner has the following duties:

Meeting with clients

Financial planners host meetings with clients to analyse their wealth, investment goals and any major financial decisions or needs. These meetings help the planner learn more about what the client hopes to achieve with their financial resources and how to get there. Financial planners also meet with clients to discuss major changes to financial practices or laws that might affect their wealth or savings and financial goals.

Related: What Does a Financial Officer Do? (Plus Important Skills)

Helping clients create personal budgets

Financial planners can also help clients create personal budgets to reach their savings or other financial goals. For example, a financial planner might help a client create a personal budget to reduce credit card spending to repay a car loan early and reduce their monthly expenses. Financial planners help create a budget, monitor the client's progress and determine the need for changes to the budget.

Assisting clients with financial documents and processes

Financial planners may help their clients with tax returns, estate management, retirement planning, mortgages and properties and other financial tasks or documents. They can help clients understand each document or process by explaining them from a position of expertise or assisting clients in filling out and filing the correct documents for taxes or other needs. For example, a financial planner might help a client determine how many dependents to claim on a tax form and where to file the form.

Related: Financial Analysis and Planning: Definition and Key Tasks

Staying current with financial trends and processes

Financial planners stay updated with developments in financial products, tax laws and industry updates that impact their clients or their wealth and savings goals. For example, a new capital gains tax might affect a client's personal investment strategy and when they take profits, so the financial planner might want to know about the law to offer accurate advice. Financial planners also help clients remain in compliance with regulations and tax laws.

Related: What Does a Credit Analyst Do? (Plus Duties and Skills)

Updating clients on the status of their accounts or investments

Financial planners update their clients on any major changes to their portfolios or accounts immediately to determine the need for a new strategy. Financial planners can help clients readjust their goals depending on any changes that occur. For example, a sudden drop in stock price might reduce an investor's portfolio value. The client might decide to sell all of their stock to prevent further losses but might not be aware of the drop in value unless their financial planner informs them about the loss.

Referring clients to service providers

Financial planners typically have many connections in the financial industry and can leverage those relationships to provide a more robust customer service experience for their clients through referrals. They can refer clients to professionals like tax experts or investment planners. If the client needs additional services, they can save time and potentially money by asking for a referral from their financial planner.

Providing debt management services

Financial planners provide comprehensive debt management for clients to help them reduce or completely eliminate their personal or business debts. This includes helping clients identify all of their debts, exploring debt consolidation options, reviewing the interest on each account and determining how to include debt payments in the client's financial budgets. They also help clients develop better spending habits to avoid future debt.

Skills

Financial planners possess a variety of hard and soft skills, which they can develop through education and experience. To be a successful financial planner job candidate, consider the following skills:

Mathematics skills

Financial planners create budgets, invest capital and make other choices related to finances, requiring confidence in performing calculations with large sums of money. Comfort with math, money and basic accounting helps a financial planner understand the numbers they're working with and what they mean. They also understand complex mathematical equations for identifying financial trends and creating graphs or charts.

Data analysis

Research is central to a financial planner's job. Planners track the latest statistics, changes and trends in financial markets and analyse that data to make well-informed decisions that positively impact clients' financial plans. They understand how to identify good sources of information, identify specific trends or processes within complex data sets and how to use historical data to create plans.

Organisation

Financial planners often work with many different clients, all of who entrust the planner with their financial security. Financial planners organise their schedules and compile comprehensive client files, including sensitive financial information. Some planners work with clients in different geographic locations who have a variety of financial needs. These professionals keep each client file separate and secure and organise their time to best meet the needs of each client.

Customer service

Having a strong client relationship is crucial to a financial planner's success because it creates trust between the client and the financial planner. To gain trust and build relationships, financial planners use customer service skills like active listening, empathy and kindness. They are also quick to update clients about any potential financial issues, changes or opportunities to reinforce the trust and help their clients reach their financial goals.

Presentation

Financial planners create financial plans, establish portfolios and draft budgets to present to their clients for review. The stronger the presentation, the more likely a client is to agree to their financial planner's suggestions. These professionals use sales techniques, effective public speaking and persuasion skills to present their ideas concisely and effectively that helps reinforce the trust between the client and the planner.

Related: What Are Technical Skills?

Financial planner work environment

Financial planners usually work in office settings. They work in banks, credit unions, government agencies and corporate offices, while some work for individuals and families. Though they work in towns all over the world, there are a few things that planners can typically expect from their work environment:

  • Sitting down at a desk or table inside an office

  • Communicating with a set group of clients over a long period

  • Working with phones and computers, often typing up reports, conducting research, checking financial statistics and staying in contact with clients

  • Working full-time Monday to Friday, with some positions requiring weekend hours, holiday hours and mobile availability

  • Travelling to meet clients, especially if the planner is an independent contractor

Financial planner salary

A typical financial planner can earn an average salary of around $3,721 per month. With the right training and education, you may earn a higher salary by serving more clients, working for an established firm or working as an independent contractor where you can set your own prices for services. Some financial planners obtain a graduate degree to gain higher positions in financial firms and increase their earnings.

Related: How to Become an Investment Analyst: A Step-By-Step Guide

Financial planner job description example

Here is an example of a job description you might find during a job search for financial planners:

Watermark Financial Management, LLC is searching for an experienced and certified financial planner to take new clients at our downtown office. The job consists of several core duties, including:

  • Meeting with clients to establish goals

  • Helping clients choose the right investment vehicles

  • Offering financial management and planning advice

  • Establishing portfolios and completing documents

  • Reporting to the senior financial manager

Our firm specialises in debt management, investments and personal budgets. The ideal candidate possesses a bachelor's degree in finance, economics or business management and has at least three years of experience in the financial industry. Our client-focused group is hoping to hire a financial planner with flexible full-time availability. For the right candidate, this position offers the potential for career growth and a competitive salary, with a full range of benefits including holiday pay and retirement options.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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