Steal This Job

Dough Doctor: Financial Planner

Steal This Job
Brian Jones (above) is the financial planner and vice president at Cooper, Jones & McLeland in Fairfax, Va.
By Danny Freedman
Tuesday, May 31, 2005; 3:57 PM


JOB: Financial planner and vice president at Cooper, Jones & McLeland in Fairfax, Va.

SALARY: $125,000 to $150,000. His fee is based on clients' assets.

EDUCATION: Bachelor's in public administration from George Mason University

WHAT HE DOES: Jones helps his 130 to 150 clients reach their personal and business-related financial goals. Though he specializes in small businesses and non-profits, Jones has clients from all over the financial map; retirement planning is particularly in demand. Often finances are "the last thing you want to look at" after a day at work or on the weekend, but "it's one of the most important things that you can neglect," he said. And many do. Some clients "will literally show up in your office with a big box full of stuff," and the process of elucidating a person's financial history begins. "We dig deep, we come to a lot of data," he said. "It's almost like seeing your doctor." He and a small staff regularly monitor clients' progress and meet with them annually to make any needed adjustments.

WOULD YOU WANT HIS JOB? "When was the last time that you were at a party and heard people talking about their net worth?" Jones pointed out. Discussing personal finances can be a highly uncomfortable experience for clients. They might try to withhold some details, which is "a total waste of everyone's time." Jones also needs to keep unattainable "big bubble" goals grounded in reality. "Sometimes I have to pull out a really big pin and pop it," he said.

HOW YOU CAN GET HIS JOB: Certification through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards isn't necessary to practice, though Jones strongly recommends it. Certification-seekers must meet the Board's education requirements, pass a 10-hour, three-part exam, have at least three years of related experience and complete 30 hours of continuing education coursework every two years. for more information: The local chapter of the Financial Planning Association, where Jones is director of career development, hosts networking events and lists job openings.

This article orinigally appeared in the Express on April 11, 2005.

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