For anyone considering becoming a financial planner, here is the path I took.
On Thursday, January 15th I finally got the email indicating exam results had been released. I checked the site many, many times before I called to discover that results would not be posted online. That meant I had to wait for the mail.
Since the results were mailed from Washington DC, there was a chance I’d get them by Saturday, but no luck, so I waited until Monday. After checking the mail three times, my neighbor, the mailman, reminded me it was Martin Luther King’s birthday so there would be no mail.
I am all for celebrating his birthday, but did it have to be on this day? Finally, on Tuesday, I opened the mail and the 8½ x 11 envelope was there. I was fairly confident I passed, but my hands were trembling as I opened the letter. “CONGRATULATIONS…” I did not read any further”I passed! This was the end of a very LONG journey.
In 2005 I decided to turn my financial planning hobby into a profession. To do that, all I had to do was pass the Series 65 exam and I was in business. I wanted to do it right so I decided to do far more than the minimum.
I made a plan and have been plugging away at it since. It started with studying for the Series 65 exam which was not too much of a challenge. The next step was returning to school to get an MBA.
It turned out that getting a decent score on the GMAT, the graduate school admission exam, turned out much harder than I thought. I was a bit rusty on math and had to study for about six months just to sit for that exam. I bombed my first try which was very discouraging. My second attempt was better and soon I was a full time student in the Cal Poly MBA program.
Originally I planned to enroll in the Certified Financial Planner program after college, but I got anxious and started it simultaneously. This was a bit much, but it put me ahead of my schedule and the overlap in the programs was actually helpful.
After graduating from Cal Poly, I put all of my energy into the CFP program. Once that was done, I finished the tax preparer program with the National Tax Training School to add to my tax knowledge and make me legal to do tax returns.
Then I went on to the Alliance of Cambridge Advisors financial planner training program. That was not difficult but incredibly valuable. Once all of that was out of the way, I took the CFP prep course with Ken Zahn. If you find this with a Google search, their customer service is absolutely terrible, but I HIGHLY recommend his class.
The test was two days in Los Angeles. The first day was six hours long with a break in the middle. Day two was four hours long. The test was brutal. The volume of information tested is unreal and the stamina needed really wears on you.
I am generally not good at standardized tests, but I walked away feeling I had passed. Most people don’t feel that way so perhaps I over prepared. Regardless, I’m finished and looking forward to growing my business and continuing to learn.
But now, for the first time in my life, I’ free to study and learn what I want, not what a school or test writer insists I learn.