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Malakito here / career advice
Old 07-15-2004, 12:38 AM   #1
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Malakito here / career advice

Hi,

malakito here, looking for some career advice.

I'm 35, married 13 years, three young kids, house in the suburbs, good job as an engineer with a Fortune 500 technology company approaching my 10 year mark with them.

For several years I've been considering a career somewhere in the financial arena. I want to genuinely help people with their financial problems. I'm not interested in what I consider unethical areas of finance such as being an annuity or whole life insurance salesman. I would like to consider careers/jobs that involve analysis and education.

The career options that I've identified that may meet these requirements include:

1. Estate planning attorney
2. Fee only CFP.
3. Financial columnist / author

Does anyone here have additional suggestions for careers which might fit me? How about suggestions for how to approach a career change? I am thinking about doing some informational interviews...any questions I might want to consider asking?

Thanks all,

malakito.
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Re: Malakito here / career advice
Old 07-15-2004, 09:34 AM   #2
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Re: Malakito here / career advice

A couple of ideas...

Make an appointment with a financial planner and try to geta sense what his day is like. Ask him if you could "intern' with him for a while to see what it is like.

A second thing is to enroll in the Certified Financial Planner course. I believe that it still consisits of five 3 hour exams and one 2-day affair at the end.

If you find that you do not have what it takes in this field you do not have to prooceed with your plan and you can do all of this while still working at your current job.
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Re: Malakito here / career advice
Old 07-15-2004, 09:52 AM   #3
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Re: Malakito here / career advice


I did something along those lines for tax preparation in the 70's - worked some part time and learned I really did I like being an aerospace engineer after all. Interestingly the guy I interned with/ and took the night course from - quit his aerospace job and went full time in his own small business of tax prep/accounting for small businesses. For me the grass wasn't greener - but everyone should at least take a shot to see - IMHO.
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Re: Malakito here / career advice
Old 07-15-2004, 11:33 AM   #4
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Re: Malakito here / career advice

Hi,

Thanks for the replies, mickeyd and unclemick.

I had planned on doing an informational interview with a CFP, but had not thought about the intern idea. That's a good idea!

As far as tax prep goes, I've considered the tax field also. Problem is I'm not interested in the mechanics of accounting as far as what documents people need to save and what information goes from which 1099 form to which line on the 1040, but I would be interested in something like tax planning where I'd know what all the tax rules were and advise businesses or individuals on how to minimize their tax bills. But I suppose one has to "start at the bottom and work one's way up". Anyhow, I'll add the tax field to the list of possibilities.

mickeyd, it's funny, about your comment "If you find that you do not have what it takes"... my Dad always said as I was growing up that I could do anything I set my mind to, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I'm absolutely sure that I could be a CFP based on hearing my Dad saying that so much. On the other hand, I never was told "Boy, malakito, you're sure cut out to be an X" (X=lawyer, doctor, whatever) so I have sort of drifted career-wise.

Thanks again for the comments and suggestions.

malakito.
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Re: Malakito here / career advice
Old 07-15-2004, 12:06 PM   #5
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Re: Malakito here / career advice

TO me the comment 'ifyou find you do not have what it takes' can mean.......if you find you don't like it while learning it.

I really wanted to be in management when I was in my 30s. When I got in management, I found I hated supervising non exempt people. Who would have thought........

Got out of that as quickly as I could.
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Re: Malakito here / career advice
Old 07-15-2004, 02:20 PM   #6
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Re: Malakito here / career advice

Malakito,

I also have thought about making a career change to be a Fee-Only Financial Planner. I am 35 and have a little over 10 years experience with a Fortune 500 Insurance Company.

My biggest hangup is the opportunity cost of leaving my comfortable job with a nice salary, 401K, pension, etc. I am pretty sure that a pay cut would be required (especially for the beginning years). My major concern is that a career change would delay my FIRE dreams. I remember reading a book called "Eight Steps to Seven Figures". The author (Charles Carson) stressed many things in his book. One of the chapters focused on avoiding shock to your finances (job change, divorce, etc).

The American College has some great programs for individuals who are interested in Financial Planning. www.amercoll.edu. I am currently enrolled in their Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) certification program. You can sit for the CFP exam after you pass a certain number of ChFC exams . The American College also has a Masters of Science in Financial Services degree. This masters degree is focused solely on Financial Planning. The masters program allows you to pick up your AEP designation along the way (Accredited Estate Planner). By the way, the ChFC and MSFS programs are both self study. The MSFS program does have a residency requirement (two 1 week residencies I believe).

One option that I am considering down the road is to ER and work part-time as a CFP. Talk to you soon.
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Re: Malakito here / career advice
Old 07-15-2004, 02:39 PM   #7
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Re: Malakito here / career advice

malakito-

Two suggestions I was given when I was considering becoming a financial planner (still a dream of mine, probably will remain unfulfilled).

1) For $28, you can download an e-book entitled "So You Want to Become a Financial Planner" by Nancy Langdon Jones at http://www.palmdigitalmedia.com/product/detail/9932

I read most of the book and concur with many other reviewers that the book is excellent.

2) Post your questions at:
http://www.financial-planning.com/ph...ist.php?f=4003

This is a website specifically devoted to up and comers.

One thing I have noted, however. It appears to be a difficult profession to ease into part-time.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Malakito here / career advice
Old 07-15-2004, 03:08 PM   #8
 
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Re: Malakito here / career advice

Quote:
When I got in management, I found I hated supervising non exempt people. Who would have thought........
Just as bad - Exempt, Non-Exempt - Been there done that!
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Re: Malakito here / career advice
Old 07-15-2004, 06:07 PM   #9
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Re: Malakito here / career advice

KB, Trace, and gindie,

Thanks for your replies!

KB, I have considered management at my company off and on for the past 10 years; I even applied for a management position last year but lost out to an experienced manager although I was told I interviewed well. Ultimately though I have decided that the only reasons I had considered management is that it is really one of the few career paths at my company, and I'd make more money. But I don't really think I am cut out for that kind of job.

Trace, you sound like my twin! My current job is very comfortable (albeit uninteresting) and I have become entrenched with the 4 weeks of vacation, the stock options (although all under water at the moment), etc. As of right now my spreadsheet projects a retirement date of 4/1/2027, which is a bit longer than I want to stay in this job. I will take a look at the American College -- being able to do it self study would be a big plus.

gindie, I will take a look at the e-book and have already taken a look at the financial planning forum. Looks like a good place to ask questions.

Thanks again,

malakito.
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Re: Malakito here / career advice
Old 07-15-2004, 10:27 PM   #10
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Re: Malakito here / career advice

Malakito, regarding the author route - I have done that as a part-time/side occupation, but it's tough to get in the door. I'd suggest that you focus all your efforts on getting some initial media exposure, and then build on that. Once someone on the inside stamps your hand, others down the line will invite you in. Otherwise the odds aren't good. I started by volunteering to speak at an event a big magazine was doing. They liked what I had to offer, but I was an unknown, so they boosted me up a bit by hiring me to write an article for their next issue. That led to another magazine (McCall's), and then there were more. It just took on a life of its own. Then I was able to get a book published based on previous exposure, which led to even more (TV, newspapers, radio, book tour, etc.). The point is, once inside the door one thing led to another and before long, I had an impressive looking resume even though I did almost nothing to make most of it happen. All I did was show up. You might read that you should start by getting published in unknown local/regional publications and work your way up. Hooey! Go straight to the big national outfits.
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Re: Malakito here / career advice
Old 07-16-2004, 08:28 AM   #11
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Re: Malakito here / career advice

Bob,

Thanks for the comments on the author bit. Did you write articles on finance or on some other topic? Also, I am curious on the compensation structure -- is it a flat amount per article, or per published word, or what?

malakito.
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Re: Malakito here / career advice
Old 07-16-2004, 12:01 PM   #12
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Re: Malakito here / career advice

Malakito, it depends. When I was doing this a magazine article for an unknown freelancer paid a flat rate - around $1000 - $1500. But restrictions on the number of characters was pretty tight. If they asked for a certain number of characters, it had to be very close. I found the magazine people to be much more rigid and demanding than the book publisher. Deadlines are very short and the pressure to deliver is high. These people don't mess around. They're less chatty and all business. I learned a ton from the first editor - she was tough as nails - but she took the time to work with me. One important thing I learned: you have to find a "voice" for your article that matches the magazine you're writing for. I tended to have a more professional sounding tone, but the magazine took boring stuff and delivered it in a more *folksy manner. So pour over any magazine you're submitting to and find that voice before you write. Also, don't write an article and submit it. Instead, do a proposal for an article. If you submit a finished product they're much more likely to say "no". If they buy into your proposal they'll be more likely to work with you if it isn't quite on the mark. It's much more about delivery than content.

A book is much different. Deadlines are always looming but they are longer - I had six months to deliver a book and that was broken down into thirds (about 10 chapters every 2 months). The people are very professional, but I got to know them more as people. There is a ton of contact. I had well over 1000 emails back and forth as well as phone calls on top of that. But I never met most of them in person - only one who came to a book signing because it was near her home in NY. The pay structure is entirely dependent upon the contract. You try to get as much in advance as you can. But it's on a percentage - per book sold basis. And that percentage goes up the more books you sell. And it takes a loooong time to know what you'll get. Bookstores and other outlets have the option of returning unsold/returned books for (I believe) one year. It's highly competitive. A publisher must try to guess how the book will do, and what a publishing house down the street is likely to pay. They also look very closely at the author. It was my strong impression that they examine the author's willingness and competence to help market the book, which they view as even more important than the content of the book. In my case I had a video of a presentation at a college. They will ask questions like, "How will this guy look on TV" so it's important to have something to show them. But, bottom line: it was a lot of work. It was a good experience, but I quickly burned out on it. I wouldn't want do it for a living. In fact, I never even read the book after it was published; I was that sick of it. I'd see it more as a way to have a unique experience or advance yourself in another arena.
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Re: Malakito here / career advice
Old 07-16-2004, 01:18 PM   #13
 
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Re: Malakito here / career advice

EVERYONE says I should write..............I don't want to
and this post confirms my instincts, i.e. it's a helluva lot of work. "It's the work that we avoid......................
we love to work at nothin' all day!" (BTO) I have a lot of stories but it seems they may die with me
(wouldn't be the first time). Lazy as sin I guess.

John Galt
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