For anyone looking to improve themselves as a financial planner, or become more intelligent in general, my number one recommendation would be to read. More specifically, read books.
Josh Brown recently had a post on “Tips for Savvier Consumption of Financial Media” where he wrote the following:
Shane Parrish has noted that reading is the number one priority for Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, chairman and vice-chairman at Berkshire Hathaway:
Warren Buffett says, “I just sit in my office and read all day.”
“You could hardly find a partnership in which two people settle on reading more hours of the day than in ours,” Charlie Munger commented.
Munger adds: “We read a lot. I don’t know anyone who’s wise who doesn't read a lot.”
Warren Buffett on Charlie Munger:
“And Charlie—his children call him a book with legs.”
During the summer between my junior and senior year of college, I made a specific decision to start reading more. Now I read all the time. It is a large part of who I am and a huge influence on my life. I read more than 70 books last year, and I was busy much of the year studying for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ examination. In the month of December, after the exam was over, I read 24 books. My average month consists of reading between 5 and 10 books. I read about everything, including both fiction and nonfiction on business, investing, science, history, art, medicine, technology, nature, biographies, and more.
This is not to emphasize quantity over quality. Rather, it speaks to how addictive reading can become. I love reading. Although I started out with the purpose of gaining knowledge, I quickly found it to be enjoyable too. Learning becomes a byproduct of reading.
There is no doubt in my mind the biggest influence on my professional development has been reading. The benefits consist of more than just understanding the technical content. I think reading has made me a more sociable person. This may seem counterintuitive because people often envision those who read a lot as being shy. However, since I read about so many topics, I can talk with a wide variety of people about a wide variety of subjects. In addition, when two people have read the same book, it is remarkable the connection and rapport it creates.
To aspiring financial planners and young people in general, my advice would be straightforward: read all the time. Not only will you learn a lot, but you will find it entertaining as well.