Financial Planner Interview

The Contact

  • Name: Bill Conrad
  • Title/Position: Financial Planner
  • Company: Northwestern Mutual
  • Industry: Financial Advising

Questions about the Contact

I asked Bill to tell me about one of his typical work days. Bill told me many of his days revolve around when clients can schedule a meeting. He mentioned some days you work into the evenings when meeting with clients. He also said their is a ton of paperwork that gets filed and recorded when he is not meeting with clients. I then asked him the best way to progress. Bill said the best way to progress is put in the time and effort building your book of clients. Work your tail off when you are young and you will be financially comfortable into the future once you build your book. He also emphasized taking the time to build your book with exceptional customer service. Some major rewards of this position is the flexibility in working, he mentioned that you can technically pick your own hours. This is great for when you need to take a couple days off but he said this is also dangerous because a lot of his compensation is commission base so if he isn’t working he isn’t making money.

Questions about Communications Practices and Writing

Could you please describe the typical kinds of writing you do and tell me a bit about each?

Bill uses email and occasionally texting for less important things. Emailing he said is great for transferring information back and forth and sending confirmations with times and locations. He said the only downfall with email is the lag in response time with some clients less technically advanced. Bill occasionally uses texting with some of his clients he is very comfortable with, this is used for brief messages that are needed to get to the client quickly but are not urgent enough for a phone call. He mentioned that it is still very important to use correct grammar and avoid abbreviations.

What do you find most challenging about your day-to-day writing? What challenges do recent graduates face as they move from “academic writing” to “workplace writing”?

Bill did not see too much of a challenge when moving to workplace writing. He said he always had a professional tone and this is something he further emphasized when moving into the professional field.

How would you describe the balance between written and oral communication in your workplace?

Bill said there is more oral then written communication. This is the case because there is a lot of variation between clients needs so it is not reasonable to try and communicate all of this across written communication.

Questions seeking Advice for you

I asked Bill about some of the other career paths I should also explore are. He mentioned, due to my interest in analyzing companies, that I should look more into an equity research position. He said if you really enjoy analyzing a company and can get good at predicting a company's value you can do a lot of great things with this career. He said this is also very rewarding, similar to financial planning. The only reason he decided to go the advisory path was that he enjoyed meeting many people, building relationships and having a less repetitive job.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Overall, I learned a ton with this experience. I learned more in one hour with Bill than I could have in ten hours on the web. It is incredible how much you learn about a profession when talking with someone who works directly in it. Some main takeaways are that hard work pays off, Bill works his tail off and is doing a great job building his book. Another main takeaway is that building relationships is extremely important in the financial advisory industry. In the future, I will make sure to always conduct a networking interview before going into a new professional career. I have learned a ton about some of the pros and cons and it is something that will be extremely valuable for me into the future.

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