As the school season wraps up around the country, it’s time for summer vacations to get underway, and along with them a lot of time for relaxing and reading books.
As an avid reader myself, I know I’m always eager to hear suggestions of good books to read, and I suspect many of you are often looking for ideas as well. Accordingly, I’m sharing my own list of 10 “summer reading books for financial planners” (at least, for those of you who are up for reading non-fiction books for fun!), from business and professional self-improvement books to the latest in behavioral finance and investment theory.
I hope you find this book list to be helpful… and that you share your own suggestions of what you’re reading in the comments at the end of this blog post!
As the financial planning profession matures, there is a growing interest in the opportunities to buy and sell financial planning practices, both for investors, for existing firms looking to grow, and for new planners looking to enter the business. However, industry statistics suggest that relatively few deals are happening (and are generally only for larger firms), although it’s not clear whether the lack of small firm activity is because the transactions are simply underreported, because financial planning firm owners aren’t actually exiting as quickly as the demographics would suggest, or perhaps because most firms just really aren’t valuable enough to sell in the first place.
Nonetheless, for many newer financial planners, who may find the thought of building a client base to be daunting, there is growing interest in acquiring an entry path to a financial planning firm, rather than building one from scratch. Unfortunately, though, the reality is that the opportunity may not quite be all it appears, given the poor economics for many financial planning firms means the new planner is likely buying a job but not a business, the limited capital that many new planners have to acquire a firm, and the outright challenges of diving full steam into both the management of a financial planning business and clients with little experience. While this may not entirely dissuade prospective new planners from buying their way into a firm, the fact remains that the approach merits a great deal of caution as well.
Getting started as a financial planner is difficult.
Although not quite the ugly environment of decades ago, where every prospective advisor was simply thrown out into the cold to fend for themselves trying to find clients in a brutal demonstration of natural selection and survival of the fittest, the fact that financial planning is still dominated by small firms with limited experience in hiring and training makes formal career paths rare.
Sadly, financial planning still has quite a ways to go to create the sorts of clear career progression paths that exist in the fields of medicine, law, and accounting. Nonetheless, there are certainly ways to increase the likelihood that each step you take in your early career will be a positive step forward.
It is viewed as almost common wisdom: the key to success is to set clear goals so that you can achieve them. After all, if you don’t know what your goals are, you can’t determine the path to reach them. Financial planning itself is rooted deeply in this philosophy, given its significant emphasis on goals (whether for retirement, college, legacy, or something else) as a foundational step in the financial planning process. Yet as I reflect on my own financial and business success over the past decade, I am struck by a startling realization: not only did I not set any goals for myself, but I’m quite certain that if I had, I would be less successful today. Because it’s not about goals, really. It’s about habits.