In a nutshell, a financial advisor is a qualified specialist responsible for their client’s financial life. These specialists provide expert advice and help customers make better and more informed money decisions. The range of this professional’s responsibilities can extend across every aspect of a client’s life, from planning a purchase of estate to planning savings or taxes and much more.
Although it might not be the most popular career path, becoming a financial advisor has its perks. The median salary for such positions in the US is around $90,000, while top-earners can make up to $160,000. And, though it doesn’t have an enormous growth rate, this job is still considered very stable. So, there are some weighty reasons to pursue this career yourself.
If we got you interested, let’s move on and look at the path you will need to take to become a financial advisor yourself!
The career of a financial advisor depends a lot on proper education. Most often, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree to jump-start your career. Ideally, you should focus on receiving a degree in economics, finance, statistics, or a related field.
Given that the fields of economics and finance are very complex and dynamic, the quality of education you receive should be as high as possible. Simply put, you will need to find a reputable school that demonstrates top-level academic standards.
Of course, getting into such schools and performing well there isn’t a piece of cake. Luckily, there are services like WritePaper.com that students can rely on to simplify their studies and achieve academic excellence. So, don’t hesitate to acquire some professional support while studying.
After going through several years of college and earning a BA in one of the aforementioned fields, you can start looking for your first job as a financial advisor. But that’s where it can get a little tricky.
The thing is that a BA will only let you land an entry-level position. Then, when it comes to advancing your career, the majority of employers will be looking for an MBA (master’s in business administration) degree.
Putting your career on hold to go back to school and pursue an MBA doesn’t sound like the best idea because then you will have to start everything over again. But there is a solution. Many specialists prefer to pursue an MBA while continuing to work on their entry-level jobs either remotely or part-time. This is a good way to achieve your academic goals without withdrawing from hands-on practice.
The advice provided by financial advisors always has a huge impact on their customer’s life and fortune. Therefore, clients often want to see additional proof of their specialists’ skills and knowledge. Thus, simply acquiring a BA and then an MBA degree won’t be enough. To build a solid career in this field, you will also need to get certified.
There are several certifications available for people pursuing this type of job:
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP);
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA);
- Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC).
To qualify for a CFP certificate, one needs to hold a BA degree and have at least 6,000 hours (approximately two years) of professional work experience. Once you meet the criteria, you will have to take the courses suggested by the CFP Board and pass an exam after completing them.
The CFA certification is the hardest to get and, thus, is considered the most prestigious. To qualify for the CFA credential, you need to hold a relevant BA degree, have 4+ years of work experience in the field, and have 2-3 letters of reference. Once you meet all the requirements, you will have to pass three exams that require a total of 300+ hours of study. All in all, it will take around four years to get certified.
The last type of certification is probably the easiest to receive. To be eligible, you must have a BA or MA and two years of full-time work experience or three years of professional experience if you don’t have a degree. To get certified, applicants need to complete any eight self-study courses and then pass a final ChFC exam within four months after completing their studies.
Note that your work doesn’t end when you get a certification. To keep the acquired credentials, you will need to continue your education and recertify regularly.
At the end of this block of our guide, we have to note that acquiring any of these certifications isn’t mandatory. Nevertheless, getting one will give you a competitive advantage over other specialists in this field of business and can help you get higher pay.
Starting a Career
As you already know, you will have to acquire a certain number of years of experience before you can certify and advance your career. Therefore, all financial advisors start at junior positions at financial firms and continue working while completing their education or earning the needed credentials.
Often, the best way to start your career is to land an internship while you’re still in college or fresh out of school. Often, colleges and universities partner with different firms to provide their students with internship opportunities. So, be sure to check if your school does that as well.
If there are no internships provided by your school, you can search for an entry-level job yourself. Many financial firms are willing to hire students and recent graduates. They will provide you with thorough professional training and support to help you fill in the knowledge and skill gaps and acquire hands-on experience.
When looking for an internship or your first job, it can be hard to choose between large, big-name firms and smaller companies. The first ones will typically offer better training. But climbing the career ladder there will be very competitive. Smaller firms, on the contrary, can let you do more work and offer better compensation.
Anyway, there is no one-fits-all decision. So, the choice of the company gets down to your own needs and abilities.
Advancing Your Career
Finally, when you gain initial experience and earn the needed credentials, it is natural to start seeking growth opportunities.
Traditionally, financial advisors have several paths to advancement.
- Climb the ranks while remaining within your primary function, gradually increasing your salary but reducing your interaction with clients.
- Grow into a regional or national-level specialist.
- Move into a branch management position.
Plus, there is always a possibility of starting your own company. Many financial advisors do that to level up their game. But before you can take this route, you will need to gain decent experience in the industry.
The Bottom Line
As you now know, the career of a financial advisor can be very stable, high-paying, and offer plenty of opportunities for professional growth. However, you’ve also learned that building a career in this field isn’t that easy.
Becoming a good specialist requires gaining a hefty amount of education, passing multiple exams, and earning plenty of experience. However, if you stick to the career path we’ve discussed in this guide, you can become a reputable financial advisor with excellent career perspectives in the future. Start acting!