CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a financial advisor.
Is becoming a financial advisor right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
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Most financial advisors have at least a four-year bachelor's degree. Getting a specific major typically doesn't matter, however degrees in financing, accounting, economics, mathematics, or computer science can look good on a resumé.
There are a number of different professional certifications or licenses that financial advisors can get. Once you know the path you want to follow, you'll know which certifications or licenses you will need. For example, if you plan on becoming a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), it is advisable to complete a program specifically designed for the certification examination process.
An internship can give aspiring financial advisors connections and experience in the financial services industry. Many start their careers as unpaid interns before they complete their degree, and some internships may be eligible for class credit towards a degree.
Having a master's degree enables a financial advisor to command a higher salary and, if they own their own firm, they can charge their clients more for their services. Also, having a master's degree or Ph.D. in finance, business, or economics may eliminate the need for any licensing and certification exams.
Many licenses and certifications have requirements for continuing education that must be met to maintain good standing. There is also a renewal fee that must be paid every year.
How to become a Financial Advisor
Financial advisors typically need a bachelor's degree. A master’s degree and certification can improve chances for advancement in the occupation. Although employers usually do not require a specific field of study, a degree in finance, economics, accounting, business, mathematics, or law is good preparation for this occupation. Courses in investments, taxes, estate planning, and risk management are also helpful. Programs in financial planning are becoming more available in colleges and universities.
Financial advisors who directly buy or sell stocks, bonds, insurance policies, or specific investment advice need a combination of licenses that varies based upon the products they sell. In addition to those licenses, smaller firms that manage clients’ investments must be registered with government regulators, and larger firms must be registered with whatever federal government agency regulates these services.
Financial advisors should be good at mathematics because they constantly work with numbers. They determine the amount invested, how that amount has grown or shrunk over time, and how a portfolio is distributed among different investments.