Yesterday I received a call from a woman who is currently a stay-at-home mom in Portland, Oregon. Because of her interest in personal finance, she was considering becoming a daily money manager (DMM). I was thrilled! Portland is a large city with only a handful of practicing DMMs. But more than that, I know how rewarding a career as a DMM can be. So when she asked me what was involved and whether she had the skills to do the job, I jumped at the opportunity to recruit.
For those interested in exploring a career as a daily money manager, there are five general qualities that I have found crucial in this business:
1. Patience – finance can be a confusing topic for even the most brilliant people and it can be overwhelming for elderly or disabled clients. Being patient and non-judgmental is critical.
2. Integrity – clients and family members must be able to trust you with sensitive financial and personal information.
3. Meticulous attention to detail – you’re hired to track details, so your organization of them must be impeccable.
4. Knowledge of personal finance – while you will learn a lot on the job, a basic understanding of personal finance is key.
5. Team player – working with family members and other professionals in the client’s life is part of the job. Ensuring effective communication between your client and her “team” is one of the most valuable benefits of the DMM-client relationship.
If you’re interested in working with small businesses or non-profits, you should also have a knowledge of business finance. Experience working in Quickbooks may be helpful – they have a number of useful resources available for free on their website.
Starting Out as a DMM
In terms of launching and managing your own DMM business, there is a lot to think about, from the requirements of incorporating, licensing, and ensuring you have proper insurance, to building your practice through marketing and business development.
Daily money management is generally a referral-based business. You build relationships with professionals such as attorneys and financial advisors who will then refer clients to you. Ideally, you become the go-to DMM for these professionals when they have clients of their own who can benefit from your services. However, this kind of relationship takes time and effort to establish. You need to meet the right people, have useful conversations that showcase your expertise, and for DMMs, a lot of that goes right back to living by those five qualities I mentioned earlier: patience, integrity, meticulous attention to detail, knowledge of personal finance, and being a team player.
The DMM Career
While owning a small business like a daily money management company can mean uncertain schedules and income, it is also a flexible career for those looking for an option that gives them the ability to go back to school, raise a family, or even work another job. Depending on the kind of clients they have, many DMMs I know have been able to work during school hours, in evenings and on weekends, to allow them to be more available to their families.
Once you make the commitment to pursue daily money management, join AADMM, the American Association of Daily Money Managers. AADMM offers an annual conference where over 150 DMMs meet to learn and share best practices. Going to the conference before I even launched my business was the best thing I could have done. I learned so much from the conference sessions, but the real value was in meeting veteran DMMs who helped me with many of the details of setting up my new business. This year’s conference is coming up quickly in November, so if you’re thinking about it, register now before it’s too late. Connect, learn and start building those relationships!
Being an AADMM member gives you access to so many resources, from an online forum with other members, to meetings with local DMMs, to the conference and a Business Basics course, so you’re never really alone in your venture. You don’t need any prior experience to attend and benefit from these events — they are great for newbies!
The Market for DMMs
If you’re concerned about not getting enough business, don’t be. Most markets are severely underserved and the opportunities for new DMMs are excellent. Check out the AADMM professional search tool to see what the market is like in your area. In many areas, even in large cities, there are just a handful of members. Even in my area (Metro Washington DC) where we have many DMMs, there is still a huge unmet need in the community. Just last week an accountant asked me if I was taking new clients because all the other DMMs he knew were at capacity.
While many people join the profession because they helped an elderly relative and realized they want to help seniors with bookkeeping tasks, there are many more customer types than just seniors. I have worked with middle-aged individuals working towards retirement, young people who have just entered the workforce, 30-somethings who are in the workforce making good money but not managing it well, and many more. And your particular location may be prime for specific types of clientele – for example, if you live near a military base, you may find work helping families with a deployed service member. Or perhaps you live near a high tech hub like Seattle, where there are nearly 140,000 people working in technology – these careers are often all-consuming and those working in them can use help managing their non-work-related business. Money management is needed all along the age spectrum, and DMMs can find their niche a number of different ways.
Daily money management has been a very rewarding career for me. It has allowed me to use all of my soft and hard skills to really help people, and it provides a healthy income for my family with the flexibility to be able to enjoy my time with them.
Have I convinced you yet?