Monday, February 06, 2006

The die is cast 
...So I resigned from my current employer last week.

Yep. I was a financial industry copywriter for a marketing company. I resigned for a variety of reasons I won't go into here. But basically I was stagnating, the writing was too easy, and I wanted to do something more challenging, and leverage my financial niche as a writer more effectively.

I also felt that as a financial industry/retirement industry marketing writer with some specific industry knowledge I've gained over the years, I should be able to earn a modest premium over a general practitioner advertising/brochure copywriter. And with unemployment now around 4.75 percent, now seemed like a good time to do it.

So what's next?

In the short run, I'm going to take a bit of time and complete my long-neglected Certificate in Financial Planning. I'll be a Registered Financial Consultant then, which isn't a huge deal, but it gives me a few more options.

Next, I've got a couple of different ways I can go:

A. Stay a copywriter, but seek employment on staff with an investment house. I'd be doing the same thing, although probably with more challenging material, with more web interactivity, but earning nearly twice the money. Upside - steady pay. Downside - the job hunt will take a while, and most likely involve relocation. That's not a terrible thing - unless there's no one I can play tunes with. (Not a problem in Boston, New York, Seattle, Portland, or Chicago, though!)

B. Freelance writing. Mostly writing articles for financial trade journals. This would generate about the same as I'm making now, if things go well, after a while but with much more freedom, which I like. Downside - no benefits. As far as 401(k)s go, that's not as big a deal as it used to be, since I can set up a sole proprietor 401(k). But medical benefits are more valuable than ever, and they're not going to get any less valuable as time goes by. Upside - I can schedule the occasional concert tour/festival gig.

C. I can go ahead and launch as a financial advisor, with one of the midsize investment firms (i.e. Raymond James). Main things I'd look for - an ability to scale into a fee-based or, preferably, a fee-only practice, and no pressure to sell "in-house" proprietary products or annuities, and an ethical, client-centered climate. I'm willing to give up a lot of money to feel good about what I do, and a good advisor can do a family a world of good, as I've written here on this blog.

I do believe in holistic financial planning, and I've long had an interest in it. I also like the entrepeneurial aspects of it.

Upsides: Potentially lucrative.
I am very strongly attracted to the profession
I believe that I can do the client a lot of good, in most cases, in a fee-only capacity (basically meaning I charge by the hour, not by the transaction).

Once my Certificate in Financial Planning is out of the way, I can sit for the CFP exam. Once I pass that, I just have to work in the industry for three years providing financial services to earn the CFP mark, which is the gold standard in personal financial advisement. (Yeah, some people say it's the ChFC. But they ain't getting the press. Same with the CLU. They're awesome, but when people look for a financial planner, they look for the CFP.)

Once I get established, it's difficult to relocate. Especially if my firm doesn't practice there. Most of my family is in Hawaii and the West Coast.

The first couple of years can be very dicey. That's the same with any business startup. I have some savings, but I can't go for a year or live on a spouse's income during the lean times while I build my book of business.

Lastly, my natural market here doesn't have much money. Basically, I hang out with a bunch of near broke soldiers and musicians. So what markets I do build, I'd have to bust my ass to do it.

The main variable there, I think, isn't the house I work for. It's basically whether or not I get discouraged during a slow spell, and whether I can hook up with a good mentor in the business who is willing to show me the ropes. It's a huge business. I can do it, or I can learn it, but I can't do both by myself. I'll need some help along the way. The financial part will be the easy part. But building a business appeals to me quite a bit. I don't see myself buying a servicemaster franchise.

D. I could go back into journalism. This doesn't pay crap, and it's probably not going to buy a decent sized house anywhere I'm likely to work. But breaking stories and scooping the frog-face at the paper across town makes me happy. So there.

Does it sound like I lack focus? Well, maybe. But I have a lot of options and a lot of interests - for which I consider myself very lucky. I'm excited and looking forward to the next professional adventure.

Whatever I do, you can bet there will be a lot of music and a lot of good friends.

Meanwhile - need anything written?

Splash, out


Good luck, Jason! It's not a bad time in the industry to try to get on, at least.
Good luck. Be sure and keep us posted regarding where your travels take you on the interview trail -- if you end up in Houston interviewing with AIM or AIG, be sure and let us know. I know where all the good whiskey bars are.

Phil Smith
Quitting your job, before acquiring a new one, is sorta like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Why sabotage your bottom line?

Run your career like a business.

My $.02
good luck,

please keep your eye on the media for us.
Naw, staying where I was much longer would be cutting off my nose to spite my face. And staying where I was, in the long run, would sabotage my bottom line.

Think of it this way: I'm running my career like a business, and laid off my employer.

This way, I can conduct the informational interviews I need to, and complete the education that will qualify me for much better opportunities much faster.

There's method to my madness. And I am in a position to accept some short-term risk. In the long run, though, the risk of underearning or stagnating was much greater.
I could use a decent fee-only planner. The only one in Nebraska in NAPFA does $2 million and up.

My buddy who just retired Navy is doing the same thing for the same reasons. He's still got the experience part to do, but is very optimistic (Virginia).

I've seen worse plans. And I'd be in your market.
Yeah, the key is to find someone who charges by the hour, rather than by assets under management.

Might try the Garrett Planning Network, the Cambridge Group, or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

Don't know if I can make that business model work yet. We'll see. I'll be talking to Garrett and some of the others.
Good luck, Jason, to whatever path you chose. If a path takes you to mid-eastern CT, I'll introduce you to my neighbor, who plays Bough-rawn in a group with an award winning accordionist. They don't have a fiddler. They play for the fun of it. No banjos, heh.
Thanks much for the suggestions. This is also anecdotal evidence, but might inform your decision: I sure know a lot of guys who recently left a certain affinity-based financial/insurance service...you mighta heard of them.
"Meanwhile - need anything written"

No, but I could use a good fee-based planner...
NAPFA got me the $2m minimum shop. Garrett's closest guy is two states over. Cambridge is not helping.

Mutter mutter mutter.
Hi - I’m a newbie trying to find some information
relating to debt
However, I managed to find your Blog which I think is interesting and had some relevance to what I was looking for. Thanks for your post and do keep up your good work.!
Hey, you have a great blog here! You really are very talented and deserve an honest compliment, congradulations! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a workfromhome site/blog. It successfully covers workfromhome related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time, Scott.
directory submission Now it's time to qualify the location/frequency method described above. All the major search engines follow it to some degree, inthe same way cooks may follow a standard chili recipe. But cooks like to add their own secret ingredients. In the same way,
search engines add spice to the location/frequency method. Nobody does it exactly the same, which is one reason why the same
search on different search engines produces different results.
good books for your home library collection.
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