Financial advisers, also known as financial planners, advise individuals, couples and organizations on financial matters, such as spending income, saving for retirement and making sound investments. Although most financial advisers practice as generalists, others specialize in investments, savings or insurance. Individuals looking to become financial advisers must have the relevant professional qualifications and be able to follow industry regulations. Top employers include investment firms, consultancies, insurance carriers and brokerage firms.
Doing the Job
To study a client’s financial information, evaluate his financial goals and create a good investment portfolio, a financial adviser needs strong analytical skills. Math skills are also essential, because an effective adviser must convert currencies, determine percentages and derive financial ratios. Financial advisers also need strong speaking and active listening skills to interact and share information with clients effectively.
Personal financial advisers help clients make sound financial decisions by providing all the relevant information. For example, when a client wants to buy education insurance for her children, the financial adviser analyzes the client’s financial position to ensure she can afford the policy, and researches the insurance market to identify the best providers and advises accordingly. These financial advisers also help clients improve credit ratings and secure bank loans.
After helping clients implement financial plans, such as investing in securities, investment financial advisers often keep in touch with them to discuss the progress of the investment. When a client wants to change his investment options, the adviser furnishes him with new information on potential investment options. These financial advisers also liaise with financial services providers to ensure the interests of their clients are being met.
Financial advisers must update their knowledge on industry regulations. For example, investment advisers who manage $110 million or more in client assets keep tabs on the US Securities and Exchange Commission to monitor changes in relevant regulations. Other financial advisers or planners usually are regulated by state agencies, such as boards of accountancy.
To become a financial adviser, you must earn at least a bachelor's degree in economics, finance, mathematics or business. You also need to obtain a license or registration with a state regulator. Investment financial advisers running large firms must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. To improve your ability to attract more clients, pursue a master’s degree in business administration or earn the certified financial planner certification from the Certified Planner Board of Standards.
In 2013, the mean annual wage for personal financial advisers was $99,920, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the same period financial advisers offering investment services was $117,460, while those working as resident advisers in companies made $92,700. Between 2012 and 2022, the bureau also estimates a job growth of 27 percent for personal financial advisers, greater than the estimated 11 percent average for all jobs.
- MyMajors: Financial Adviser Career
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Personal Financial Advisors
- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission: Investment Advisers: What You Need to Know Before Choosing One
- Financial Industry Regulation Authority: Selecting Investment Professionals
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Personal Financial Advisors
- Photo Credit moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images
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