The financial planning profession has grown exponentially in the past few decades. One reason for this is the increased public awareness of the need for sound financial advice from trained and knowledgeable professionals.

Many financial planners and firms are responding to this demand with increased mobility, online support, and other forms of technological assistance. These innovations have allowed a small but growing number of financial planners to carve out a new niche in their profession by working from home, either part or full time.

Key Takeaways

  • Becoming a financial planner can be a lucrative career move, helping people with their investments and personal finances.
  • Once based out of traditional offices, several new platforms allow financial planners to work remotely from home.
  • Financial planners who decide to work remotely as freelancers often experience a new level of personal autonomy and flexibility.
  • The downsides of self-employment for financial planners include a lack of guaranteed income and no fringe benefits.
  • Online-based financial advisory companies can be a good source of employment for financial planners looking to work from home.

Working From Home

Although this trend started in many other areas such as the travel industry, it was initially slower to take hold in the financial community because some clients required a level of personalized service and advice that had traditionally been available only through face-to-face contact. But technology has reached the point where planners can work effectively with clients online and provide advice and information via phone, email, and video conferencing.

The number of websites that allow clients with relatively simple financial situations to enter their information and receive personalized recommendations and advice is growing rapidly along with the array of products and services that these sites provide.

A New Opportunity for Planners

Planners who choose to work for firms that offer online advice may still have to spend at least some time in an office, but in many cases, this arrangement will allow them to avoid the daily nine to five grind. Anyone who has the proper licensure and credentials just needs a computer, Internet access, and a space to work at home in order to conduct business.

Some planners will meet clients in person by appointment for an introductory meeting and then communicate with them via phone or online from then on, while other planners work exclusively from home and may never see the majority of their clients in person, depending upon their firm's policy.

Some planners may also be able to meet with clients directly in their (the planners') homes if they have the means to create a separate office and meeting area at their residence. Of course, working from home has always been an option to some extent, but in times past this generally required a regular commute to a central office to deliver paperwork and accomplish other tasks. While this is still sometimes necessary, new data-sharing technology such as Dropbox has made it much easier to transmit and share documentation electronically.

In a June 2020 survey of Chief Financial Officers working in the financial services industry, 61% said they plan to make remote work permanent for roles that allow it.

Getting Started

One way to get started working from home as a financial planner is to work as an employee for a company that allows their financial advisors work flexibility and remote work options. Financial planning companies that are primarily online-based can be a good source of employment for financial planners looking to work from home. These companies have already embraced online technology as a means to interact efficiently and conveniently with their customers, so it makes sense that they extend these benefits to their workforce as well.

Many websites that offer online planning either allow or require their clients to upload most or all of their financial accounts and information into a sophisticated proprietary planning or budgeting program that allows the planner to see the client's entire financial picture at a glance.

This level of technological transparency greatly reduces the amount of time that planners traditionally had to spend gathering and entering their clients' financial information. Clients who provide all of their information properly through this channel can often receive immediate feedback from the planner on certain topics.

Personal Capital is an example of a company that offers financial advisory jobs that are either partially or fully remote. Bill Harris, a former CEO of PayPal and Intuit, launched his financial planning advisory firm in 2011 in an effort to provide effective money management for clients with $100,000 to $2,000,000 to invest. Personal Capital provides a turbo-charged indexing investment program and assigns a personal advisor to communicate directly with each client. Clients can also link all of their financial accounts together on the online financial dashboard. Basic membership is free and personalized advice and money management are priced very competitively.

Compensation and Benefits

Financial planners who work remotely for companies are usually paid either by the client or receive a salary. And while most planners are still expected to market themselves in their sphere of contacts, substantial leads are typically provided on a regular basis. But the benefits of this niche go beyond dollars and cents. Some sites offer 24/7 access to a financial planner, which could be an attractive option for those who enjoy working nights.

As with other work-at-home jobs, this alternative could also appeal to planners with young children. Parents who left their financial careers to care for young children may be much more able to fit this type of arrangement into their schedules than a traditional advisor position, and this option will most likely pay considerably more than most other work-from-home alternatives.

The Bottom Line

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many financial advisory firms shifted their office workforce to working at home. This trend in the industry is likely to mushroom in the next few years, as several of the sites that use offsite advisors have plans for substantial expansion. Additionally, reports show that at-home workers maintained their productivity while working from home, and more than 70% of financial services employers found the work-from-home shift to be successful or very successful.