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How to Become a Financial Advisor

By Ajoke Aminu

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Are you looking for a dream job that involves helping people manage their finances? When it comes to money matters, we all need a guiding hand. So, if crunching numbers is your jam, becoming a financial advisor is right for you. With our helpful guide, you’ll figure out how to become a financial advisor — from career outlooks to salaries, plus access to valuable resources so you can get started on this exciting journey today.

Career Summary

Financial Advisor Salary

Are you considering a career in finance but wondering what the financial advisor’s salary looks like? Here is a salary trajectory for those living in the United States:

  • Entry Salary (US$79k)
  • Median Salary (US$110k)
  • Executive Salary (US$150k)

Thus, if you’re wondering where the financial advisor’s salary stands in the grand scheme of things, you can rest assured that it’s higher than the average US income.

What does a Financial Advisor do?

A financial advisor is a professional who provides guidance and advice to individuals, families, or businesses on various aspects of financial planning. Their primary role is to help clients make informed decisions regarding their investments, retirement planning, tax strategies, insurance needs, and overall financial goals.

Financial Advisor Career Progression

  • Junior Financial Advisor: Entry-level position where individuals learn the basics of financial advising, support senior advisors, and gain foundational knowledge and skills.
  • Financial Advisor: As a full-fledged advisor, you’ll manage client relationships, provide comprehensive financial advice, and develop personalized financial plans.
  • Senior Financial Advisor: With experience, you’ll take on more complex cases, manage larger client portfolios, and may oversee a team of junior advisors.
  • Team Lead or Manager: Progressing to a leadership role, you’d be responsible for managing and supervising a team of financial advisors, setting goals, and ensuring the team’s success.
  • Portfolio Manager or Chief Investment Officer: This role involves managing investment portfolios, overseeing investment strategies, and making high-level investment decisions for clients or the firm.
  • Executive or Leadership Positions: In large financial firms or corporations, successful financial advisors may progress to executive or leadership positions, such as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or Chief Executive Officer (CEO), leading the strategic direction of the organization.
Financial Advisor Career Progression

Pros:

  • Making a meaningful difference in clients’ lives by helping them achieve their financial goals
  • Continuous learning opportunities, including staying updated with market trends and new financial products
  • Flexibility to set their own schedules and work remotely
  • Potential to earn a lucrative income

Cons:

  • The fast-paced and high-pressure environment
  • Possible income fluctuations due to market volatility or economic downturns
  • Staying abreast of changing rules and compliance requirements can be time-consuming
  • Acquiring new clients and managing client expectations can be challenging

Essential Skills for Success as a Financial Advisor

  • Financial Knowledge and Technical Expertise
  • Adaptability and Resilience
  • Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills
  • Relationship-Building Skills
  • Strong Communication Skills

In-Demand Specializations in Financial Advisory

  • Retirement Planning Specialist
  • Investment Management Advisory
  • Tax Planning and Strategy Expert
  • Risk Management Consultant
  • Business Financial Advisor

How to become a Financial Advisor

Financial Advisor 5 Steps to Career

Are you considering becoming a financial advisor? Well, you’ve come to the right place! You need to complete these four incredible phases before you can call yourself a financial advisor.

A Financial Advisor’s Education

When it comes to managing our finances, we often rely on the expertise of financial advisors to make sense of it all. But have you ever wondered what kind of education these money gurus have under their belts? Find out here.

The Degree(s) that Gets You on the Financial Advisor Career Path

A degree in a relevant field such as finance, economics, business, or accounting can provide you with a strong foundation of knowledge and skills essential for understanding financial concepts, analyzing investments, and providing sound advice to clients. It can also help you stand out from other candidates seeking employment opportunities.

However, the requirements to become a financial advisor can vary depending on the country and the specific regulations in place. In some regions, having a degree may not be a strict requirement to become a financial advisor, but it can be beneficial and enhance your prospects in the field.

Furthermore, some financial advisory roles may have specific educational requirements mandated by regulatory bodies. For example, in the United States, financial advisors who provide investment advice to clients are typically required to hold certain professional certifications such as Series 7 and Series 65 or 66 licenses, which usually necessitate a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience. Ultimately, it’s advisable to research the specific requirements and regulations in your country or region to determine the educational path that aligns with your goals.

The Importance of a Degree as a Financial Advisor: Advantages and Success Factors

The truth is that financial advisors come from all different educational backgrounds. Some may have degrees in finance or business, while others may have started out in a completely different field before transitioning to financial advising. Regardless, one thing is certain—a good financial advisor knows that education is priceless.

Here’s why:

  • Education equips you with a deep understanding of financial concepts, investment strategies, risk management, and economic principles.
  • Demonstrates your commitment to learning, enhancing credibility, and instilling trust in clients.
  • Hones your abilities to evaluate investments, assess risk, and develop tailored financial plans.
  • It sets you apart in the job market, offering more employment opportunities and the potential for a higher financial advisor salary.
  • Some certifications require a degree, validating expertise and boosting professional standing.
  • Fulfills educational requirements for licenses, ensuring legal and regulatory compliance.

Obtaining a Degree & Becoming a Financial Advisor in Time

How Long Does it Take to Earn Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree in finance, economics, business, or a related field usually takes four years of full-time study. This duration may vary based on factors such as co-op or internship programs, accelerated study options, or part-time enrollment.

What if I want to Consider a Master’s Degree?

Pursuing a master’s degree in finance or a specialized field related to financial advisory can require an additional two years of full-time study beyond the bachelor’s degree. Some programs offer accelerated options that can be completed in one year.

It’s important to note that these durations are general estimates and can vary depending on program structure, credit requirements, and individual course loads. Additionally, part-time or online study options may provide more flexibility but could extend the duration.

It is advisable to research specific universities or colleges offering relevant programs to understand the exact requirements and duration of the degree program you are interested in.

The Costs of Embarking the Financial Advisor Career Path at University

This is where you start thinking like the investor you want to be. As stated earlier, becoming a financial advisor requires a degree in related fields such as finance, economics, business, or accounting.

Therefore, let’s highlight the costs of studying for either of these degrees:

Overall, these costs may also vary depending on your specifications, the country, the specific university or college, the program duration, and whether you are an international or domestic student. Additionally, tuition fees can differ between public and private institutions. Also, factors like industry certifications and license costs can affect these estimates. Nevertheless, with a little bit of creativity (and some expert budgeting skills), you can find scholarships, grants, and financial aid to offset these costs and make the journey to becoming a financial advisor an attainable dream.

Industry-Specific Learning

Going to college provides the foundation needed to become an expert in the field, but it’s important not to just stop at graduation. Continued education and professional development are key to becoming a successful financial advisor. With the ever-changing landscape of the financial world, staying current on industry trends and regulations is important.

Industry E-learning, Certifications & Licenses

As a matter of fact, it is possible to become a Financial Advisor through online education. Many reputable universities and educational institutions offer online programs in finance, business, or related fields that can provide the necessary knowledge and skills to pursue a career as a Financial Advisor. These online programs often cover essential topics such as financial planning, investment strategies, risk management, and client communication.

Additionally, some professional certifications for Financial Advisors offer online courses and exams. It’s important to ensure that your online program or certification is accredited and recognized in the industry to maintain credibility and meet any regulatory requirements in your jurisdiction.

Some industry-related certifications include:

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP): The CFP certification is globally recognized and demonstrates expertise in financial planning, including investments, retirement planning, insurance, and tax planning.
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): The CFA designation is highly respected in the investment industry. It focuses on investment analysis, portfolio management, and ethical standards.
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC): The ChFC designation covers various aspects of financial planning, including insurance, retirement planning, taxation, and estate planning.
  • Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA): The CIMA certification emphasizes investment management skills, portfolio construction, and advanced investment strategies.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA): While primarily an accounting certification, a CPA designation can be valuable for Financial Advisors, especially when dealing with complex tax-related matters.
  • Financial Risk Manager (FRM): The FRM certification focuses on risk management, including financial market risks, credit risks, and operational risks.
  • Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC): The AFC certification is geared towards providing financial counseling and education to individuals and families, covering topics such as budgeting, debt management, and basic financial planning.

Financial Advisor Licenses

  • Series 7: The Series 7 license, administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), allows Financial Advisors to sell securities such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
  • Series 66: The Series 66 license, also administered by FINRA, is required in addition to the Series 7 license for Financial Advisors who provide investment advice and manage client accounts on a fee-based basis.
  • Series 63: The Series 63 license, also administered by FINRA, is a state-level license that allows Financial Advisors to solicit and sell securities within a specific state.
  • Registered Investment Advisor (RIA): Registering as an RIA with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or state securities regulators may be required for Financial Advisors who provide investment advice and manage client assets.

Some Web Resources to Learn about Financial Advisory

Practical Experience for a Financial Advisor

Being a financial advisor requires more than theoretical knowledge—practical experience is just as vital. In fact, it can be argued that practical experience is the bread and butter of a seasoned financial advisor. It can teach you how to navigate the complex world of investments, bonds, mutual funds, and so on, and you’ll know how they respond to market trends in real time. While there are many ways to gain practical experience, consider the pathways below.

Top Financial Advisor Internship Opportunities To Consider

  • Financial Advisory Firms: Many financial advisory firms offer internship programs to provide practical training in areas such as financial planning, investment analysis, client relationship management, and portfolio management.
  • Banks and Financial Institutions: Banks and other financial institutions often have internship programs in their wealth management or private banking divisions. These internships can provide exposure to various financial products and services, client interactions, and the overall functioning of financial institutions.
  • Investment Firms: Interning at investment firms, including asset management companies or hedge funds, can provide insight into investment strategies, research, and analysis, as well as exposure to portfolio management and risk assessment.
  • Insurance Companies: Insurance companies often have internship opportunities in their financial planning or wealth management departments. These internships can involve learning about insurance products, risk management, and financial planning for clients.
  • Government Agencies: Interning at government agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the Department of Treasury can offer exposure to regulatory aspects of the financial industry, compliance, and policy-related work.

In-demand Financial Advisor Job Opportunities

  • Wealth Management Advisor: Wealth management advisors work with high-net-worth individuals and families to provide comprehensive financial planning services. They help clients with investment management, retirement planning, estate planning, tax strategies, and risk management.
  • Investment Advisor: Investment advisors focus on providing advice and guidance related to investment portfolios. They assess clients’ financial goals and risk tolerance, recommend investment strategies, monitor market trends, and make investment decisions on behalf of their clients.
  • Retirement Planner: Retirement planners specialize in helping individuals plan for their retirement years. They analyze retirement savings, assess income needs, develop retirement income strategies, and provide guidance on Social Security, pensions, and tax implications.
  • Financial Planner: Financial planners offer holistic financial planning services to individuals and families. They assess clients’ financial situations, set financial goals, develop comprehensive plans, and provide guidance on various aspects of personal finance, including budgeting, insurance, investments, and estate planning.
  • Estate Planner: Estate planners work with clients to develop strategies for the distribution of assets and the minimization of estate taxes. They help individuals plan for the transfer of wealth, create wills and trusts, and provide guidance on inheritance and legacy planning.
  • Risk Manager: Risk managers assess and manage risks for individuals or organizations. They identify potential risks, develop risk management strategies, recommend insurance coverage, and provide guidance on mitigating financial risks.
  • Corporate Financial Advisor: Corporate financial advisors work within organizations, providing financial advice and guidance to management teams. They analyze financial data, assess investment opportunities, evaluate financial risks, and make recommendations to optimize financial performance.
  • Insurance Advisor: Insurance advisors specialize in providing advice on insurance products and coverage options. They assess clients’ insurance needs, recommend appropriate policies, and assist in claims processing.
  • Personal Financial Consultant: Personal financial consultants provide individuals with personalized financial advice and guidance. They assist clients with budgeting, debt management, savings strategies, and overall financial wellness.
  • Trust Officer: Trust officers work for banks or trust companies and manage trusts and estates on behalf of clients. They handle administrative tasks, ensure compliance with legal requirements, and provide guidance on trust management and distribution.
  • Education Financial Planner: Education financial planners specialize in helping individuals and families plan for education expenses, such as college tuition. They assist in setting up savings plans, explore financial aid options, and provide strategies for managing education costs.
  • Compliance Officer: Compliance officers ensure financial advisory practices comply with industry regulations, laws, and ethical standards. They develop and implement compliance policies, conduct audits, and provide guidance on adherence to regulatory requirements.

Type of Companies Hiring a Financial Advisor

  • Financial Advisory Firms
  • Banks and Credit Unions
  • Insurance Companies
  • Investment Management Firms
  • Retirement Planning Companies
  • Accounting and Tax Firms
  • Corporate Financial Services
  • Nonprofit Organizations
  • Government Agencies
  • Educational Institutions

Financial Advisor Resume & Interview

When it comes to nailing that financial advisor job, your resume and interview skills are going to be your best friends—so don’t let them down!

Some of the most important financial advisor interview tips are to show your personality and connect with your potential employer, and also:

  • Research the company.
  • Prepare for common interview questions.
  • Highlight your client-focused approach.
  • Showcase your analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Demonstrate ethical and compliance knowledge.
  • Ask thoughtful questions.

Sometimes, unexpected questions can truly test your wit and creativity, so be prepared to think fast on your feet. Knowing how to answer common financial advisor interview questions will boost your chances of getting the job.

Be prepared to highlight your problem-solving skills and your ability to connect with clients on your resume, as it’s a crucial element you should put in your resume. You will most likely land your dream job as a financial advisor if you:

  • Highlight relevant experience.
  • Add data or reports to your resume and quantify achievements by stating the percentage of client portfolios managed, the growth of assets under management, or successful financial planning outcomes for clients.
  • Showcase technical skills.
  • Emphasize certifications and designations.
  • Demonstrate interpersonal skills.
  • Include continuing education

What’s the Career Outlook for Financial Advisor?

The employment outlook for personal financial advisors is highly favorable, with an expected growth rate of 15% from 2021 to 2031, which is higher than the percentage for other professions. Various factors drive this growth, including the increasing complexity of financial markets, a growing need for retirement planning services, and the overall expansion of the financial services industry.

On average, about 30,500 openings for personal financial advisors are expected each year over the next decade. As the financial landscape continues to evolve, so do the pockets of said employees, with the median financial advisor salary being about US$45 per hour.

Financial Advisor Popular Career Specialties

What is the Work-Life Balance for Financial Advisors?

The financial advisor career path is demanding and work-life balance can be a tricky thing to achieve. On the one hand, they must be readily available to their clients, answering questions and providing guidance. While financial advisors may have some flexibility in setting their schedules, client needs, and deadlines can impact their workload and availability. Building strong client relationships and ongoing professional development requires time and effort.

Balancing work commitments with personal time and self-care is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. It can be a juggling act, but many financial advisors find creative ways to balance their professional and personal lives. Effective time management, delegation, and clear boundaries can contribute to achieving a desirable balance in the demanding field of financial advising.

All things considered, the work-life balance of a financial advisor varies based on individual preferences, client demands, and company culture.

Notwithstanding, we will leave you with some tips:

  • Practice self-care and prioritize your well-being.
  • Establish open communication with clients to manage expectations.
  • Utilize technology and tools to streamline, automate tasks, and work remotely.
  • Plan and schedule regular breaks and vacations to recharge.
  • Cultivate hobbies and interests outside of work.
  • Seek support from family and friends for a strong support system.
  • Continuously reassess and adjust your work-life balance to align with your evolving needs and priorities.

Should I become a Financial Advisor?

As you consider whether to walk the financial advisor career path, take the time to reflect on the key points discussed in the article. Consider your interests and skills and how these align with the role’s demands. Also, evaluate your long-term goals and whether this career path will take you in the desired direction.

This decision should be based on thoughtful consideration and in-depth research rather than a spur-of-the-moment choice. However, if you embrace the challenge and are willing to dedicate the time and effort needed for success, becoming a financial advisor can be a fulfilling and rewarding career. So go ahead and take the plunge if the stars align, or if necessary, keep looking – life’s an adventure, after all!

Careers Related to Financial Advisor

Also read:

Q&A with Brenton Harrison, Financial Advisor and Host of ‘New Money New Problems’ Podcast


Ajoke Aminu

About the Author

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