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Financial Planners


Except for the depression years of the 1930s and intermittent recessions, the United States economy expanded impressively after World War I. As the average American's income increased, so did lifestyle expectations. By the 21st century, vacations to Disney World, cell phones for everyone in the family, two or three cars in the garage, and thoughts of a financially worry-free retirement were not uncommon. But how do Americans meet such high expectations? More and more have begun turning to professionals—financial planners—who recommend financial strategies. Fee-only financial planners represent a growing segment of the financial advising industry, but the profession as a whole is booming due to the deregulation of certain institutions dealing with money. Because of this deregulation, banks, brokerage firms, and insurance companies have been allowed to offer more financial services—including investment advice—to customers since 1999. This has created many job openings for planners who want to work for these businesses.

Other reasons for growth in this industry include the large number of people (baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1965) who are closing in on or reaching retirement age and taking stock of their assets. As boomers consider if they have enough money to pay for the retirement they want, more and more of them are turning to financial planners for advice about such things as annuities, long-term health insurance, and individual retirement accounts. Another factor that has spurred growth is the increased awareness people have about investing and other options because of the large amount of financial information now directed at the general public. Today commercials for brokerage firms, television talk shows with weekly money advice, and financial publications and Web sites all offer various news and tips about what the average person should do with his or her money.

All this information can be overwhelming, and people turn to experts for help. As tax laws change, the world economy becomes more complex, and new technologies alter workforces, financial planners will continue to be in demand for their expert advice.

A noteworthy technological development that may eventually negatively affect employment for financial planners is algorithm-driven financial portfolio management software (also known as robo advisory software), which allows customers to invest with minimal human interaction. In 2018, robo advisors collectively managed about $200 billion in assets, according to Forbes. Some traditional wealth management firms also are embracing the use of robo advisory software to complement their traditional offerings.

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