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How to Become a Financial Advisor

Career News August 23, 2013

Becoming a financial advisor is not often a choice a person makes while still involved in formal studies. More often than not, it’s a career change. People who have discovered they were extremely good at balancing their check-books, investing in stocks and bonds, filing taxes are among the most likely to decide on the attractiveness of a career as a financial advisor. There are a couple of reasons for this. You need to gain some life experience to successfully launch a career as a financial advisor. You also need to realize that once you have chosen this occupation, you are basically a business. You must sell yourself and your abilities.

College Degrees and Study Subjects

Financial advisor and financial planners are interchangeable terms. There are two main sectors that hire financial advisors; banks and insurance companies or brokerage firms. The job of a financial advisor is to provide advice for investment strategies such as bonds, stocks and mutual funds, and in assisting home owners with financial planning to meet future goals, such as advanced education for their children, retirement and vacations.

It’s best to have a college degree, with comprehensive studies in finance, accounting, economics, mathematics and computer science. It’s also a good idea to take courses in psychology. You will be working with clients, many of whom feel uncertain or dysfunctional in matters involving money. Your major, however, will not be nearly as important as demonstrating your ability to stick with the disciplines of advanced courses and meeting deadlines.

If you want professional certification, such as a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) or CFA (Chartered Financial Advisor), you need a four year degree for licensing. Around 300 colleges and Universities have programs that will help you prepare for licensing.

Work Details and Other Opportunities

Work experience can be found through an internship or an entry-level job with a bank or brokerage. There are many large investment companies that will offer complete training programs, helping you acquire the experience needed to pass your licensing exam. These programs are highly competitive, but if you can get into one, it’s well worth the effort. Trainees can average between $3,000 and $6,000 a month, with top advisors earning as high as $350,000 a year.

You can also become a Registered Investment Advisor, which is a consultation based. Investment advisors manage portfolios and receive compensation for providing financial advice. If the portfolio you are managing contains assets of less than $100 million, you must register with your state securities agency. For portfolios over $100 million, it’s necessary to register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. You must pass the Series 66 exam, as well as the Series 6 or 7 exam to become a Registered Investment Advisor. Alternatively, you may choose to take the series 65 exam.

Working for a bank is generally the best way to break into the field of becoming a financial advisor. Most banks are extremely supportive of their employees in finance, will offer training and help to establish a clientele.

Marketing and the Career Leader

Your success as a financial planner depends greatly on how well you can market your services. If you have good people skills along with a solid background in math, budgeting and business management, you have the necessary basis to begin your career. Most financial advisors begin their own companies, working personally with a small clientele. It is a job that requires a willingness to start from the ground up, to be able to take no for an answer and determination to persevere. With the baby boomers reaching retirement years, it is also a job that is coming more into demand.

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