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How to Become a Financial Advisor

Financial Advisor

Financial advisors help people make decisions about their finances, including investment, tax, debt, and insurance decisions. Advisors meet with their clients to determine their financial goals and help them create a plan that they can follow to reach them.

Clients may seek out financial advisors to plan for life changes like marriage, starting a family, sending children to college, or preparing for retirement. They may also hire financial advisors to help them identify good investment opportunities and to monitor their investments and accounts.

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What kind of training is required to become a financial advisor?

There is no one way to become a financial advisor, but most have at least a bachelor’s degree. Prospective financial advisors might pursue degrees in business, law, mathematics, accounting, or finance. Some financial advisors receive on-the-job training after being hired by a firm, while others take courses and complete their training independently.

Financial advisors who intend to become certified must hold a bachelor’s degree, but this degree can be in any field. Certified advisors must, however, complete college-level courses in a number of topics, including insurance planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning, estate planning, and professional conduct. These courses can be taken through any program registered by the Certified Financial Planner Board. Several colleges and universities across the country are registered by the CFP Board, and many of these programs can be completed online.

A master’s degree is not required to provide financial planning services, but many CFP-registered programs lead to these degrees. Financial advisors may pursue a master’s degree in financial planning or an MBA with a concentration in financial and tax planning, for example.

Are there any certification or licensure requirements?

Depending on the services a financial advisor wants to provide, obtaining some licenses may be necessary. States typically require those who directly buy and sell stocks, bonds, and insurance policies to obtain licenses, and if a financial advisors provides these services, he or she must obtain the appropriate license.

Financial planners can earn voluntary certifications such as those offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. To become a Certified Financial Planner, one must hold a bachelor’s degree, complete a CFB Board-registered course of study, gain three years of experience as a financial advisor, and pass a certification exam.

How long does it take to become a financial advisor?

It can take seven or more years to become a Certified Financial Planner, including time spent earning a bachelor’s degree and gaining the experience necessary to meet certification requirements. Financial Advisors who are not pursuing certification can start seeking work after earning their bachelor’s degree.

What does a financial advisor earn?

The yearly median wage for financial advisors in the United States was $67,520 in 2012. The lowest ten percent of earners in this field made less than $32,280 and the top ten percent made more than $187,200 that year.

What are the job prospects?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of financial advisors will grow by 27 percent between 2012 and 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS attributes this growth to an increased need for retirement planning as the baby boom generation ages and fewer workers receive pension benefits through their jobs.

What are the long term career prospects for financial advisors?

Financial advisers advance in their firm by building a client base. Earning a certification or a master’s degree can help attract bigger clients and allow one to advance into more senior positions in one’s firm.

Some financial advisers with experience and skills running a business can open their own firms and work independently. Self-employed advisors must know how to market themselves effectively to attract new clients.

How can I find a job as a financial advisor?

There are many large financial planning firms across the country, and many smaller, local firms as well. You can apply for openings at these firms, and you can try applying for work at other organizations like banks and insurance companies.

If you want to be self-employed, like 20 percent of financial advisors are, you will need to find your own clients by marketing your services in your community. Establishing a presence in both traditional and social media can help you attract clients.

How can I learn more about becoming a financial advisor?

Organizations like the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, the Financial Planning Association, and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors can be good resources for you as you learn about the profession.

Most states have their own association of financial advisors and your state’s association might help you determine what kinds of licenses you may be required to obtain to practice in your state.

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