How To Become A Financial Advisor
Most people know they should manage their money wisely but they don’t always know how to do it. That’s when they turn to financial advisors, who have the expertise to help them. Financial advisors undergo rigorous education and training to attain the certifications and skills necessary to succeed in this career.
The path to becoming a professional financial advisor can be direct or may include a number of twists, turns and side trips depending on past education and experience. This guide provides information to assist in weighing all of the pros and cons—including job duties, salary expectations, degree options, and step-by-step, in-depth instructions to becoming a financial advisor—to help readers decide if this is the right career choice. here are How To Become A Financial Advisor
WHAT DOES A FINANCIAL ADVISOR DO?
Financial advisors help individuals make wise decisions regarding money management. They assess a person’s financial position, understand their needs and goals, and then make recommendations on how to best achieve them. Some financial advisors have diverse backgrounds and provide an array of general services, while others focus on a particular area such as retirement or tax law.
Financial advisors work in a variety of settings. Many are employed by large companies focusing on investments, finance or insurance, while others choose to work at a small firm or independently. Self-employed financial advisors are often part-salesmen. They must market their services to attract potential clients, so they spend a portion of their time teaching seminars or networking at various functions after office hours.
Financial Advisor Job Growth, Prospects, And Outlook
Financial advisors are looking at a robust job outlook over the next several years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the field will grow by 27% through 2022—nearly double the 14 percent growth rate projected for U.S. occupations on average. This translates into more than 60,000 new jobs in addition to the almost 225,000 that existed in 2012.
Aging populations, in particular, are paying close attention to their finances and seeking investment advice as they near retirement. In addition, more people are becoming savvy to the benefits of smart saving and investing.
How To Become A Financial Advisor
1. EARN THE RIGHT DEGREE
A bachelor’s degree is required for a career as a financial advisor. Majors in finance, economics, business, statistics or similar fields are acceptable. Financial advisors can be generalists, or they may specialize in one of several areas, including retirement, taxes, estate planning, or insurance and risk management.
Major firms or high-end clients may require their financial advisors to continue their education at the graduate level. Some pursue an MBA program after working in the profession for a number of years and while continuing their full-time employment.
2. SERVE AS AN INTERN
Academic instruction in the classroom provides the foundation for learning, but internships offer opportunities for financial advisors to get real-world experience. It’s important for students to attend a school that has forged relationships with financial firms or other companies that can provide training opportunities for students to practice what they have learned, and gain instruction and insight from mentors working in the field.
3. OBTAIN CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES
Numerous certifications are available for financial advisors, usually after they have accrued three years of work experience. Certification typically requires specialized training or coursework, an exam, and continuing education. At least one of the following certifications is recommended by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA):
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
- Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
- Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
Some specialty areas require licensing. For example, financial advisors who want to sell insurance must be licensed in their state as an accredited adviser in insurance. Advisors who focus on investments must register with their state or with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a Registered Investment Advisor.
4. LAND AN ENTRY LEVEL JOB
Check with your school’s career office to identify job leads and obtain help in writing resumes and cover letters.
Take advantage of networking with other students, instructors and professional organizations to find employment opportunities and discuss market trends. Finally, don’t neglect social media as an excellent channel for posting resumes and searching for open positions.
5. RETURN TO SCHOOL
There’s always more to learn—especially in the fast-moving world of finance. Finance laws and strategies are always changing, and advisors must keep up with current trends.
Many certifications in financial advising require continuing education, while senior positions often demand an advanced degree. A graduate degree in finance, typically offered as a master’s in finance (MSF) or an MBA with a concentration in finance, can provide a competitive edge.
Finance degrees range from a two-year associate degree through a doctoral degree that can take several years to complete. Courses can be taken in a traditional campus setting or online. Below is a quick look at each degree level, along with how each will suit a prospective student’s needs.
A two-year degree option, the associate degree offers students basic knowledge about the world of finance, preparing graduates for entry-level roles or for transfer to a bachelor’s degree program.
In addition to introductory courses in finance, students also explore foundational business topics and complete general education in areas such as English composition, math, humanities, and social and behavioral sciences.
The bachelor’s degree in finance program provides a more in-depth understanding of finance, including the dynamics of the stock market as well as domestic and world economies.
Students learn how to use computerized financial programs, and work on projects that hone their investment skills. A bachelor’s degree can lead to careers such as financial analyst and personal financial advisor. This degree also prepares students to take the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP) exams.
Building on the foundation gained as an undergraduate, the master’s degree in finance is ideal for students who want to pursue leadership roles in a business environment.
At this level, students develop advanced skills in managing risk and critically evaluating information using financial models and methodologies. A master’s degree may be offered as a Master of Science in Finance (MSF) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in finance