Financial planners assist individuals with investments, tax laws and insurance decisions toward helping them meet short- and long-term financial goals. These professionals also help their clients make plans for purchasing a home, financing education for their children, and retirement. The Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies them as personal financial advisors. The lowest salaries among professionals in this field fall between $33,790 and $44,760, according to BLS, likely representing compensation for new entrants in the field.
In its 2010 to 2011 salary survey, the Financial Planning Association reported an average annual salary of $47,450 among financial planners with less than four years' experience. Entry-level offers can range between $35,000 and $55,000 a year, depending on geographic location. As professionals gain experience, compensation in the field can increase dramatically. BLS May 2009 data report an average salary of $94,180 and a median salary of $68,200 for the 149,460 people who work in the profession. At brokerage and investment firms, personal financial advisors can earn in excess of $100,000 a year. With more than 19,000 professionals in this field, the New York City metropolitan area has the highest concentration of financial planners, where salaries average $151,510 a year.
A person can enter the field with a bachelor's degree or an advanced degree in accounting, finance, economics, business, mathematics or law. Coursework that prepares an individual for the profession include investing, taxes, estate planning and risk management. A facility with math and data analysis and an ability to communicate complex concepts to clients are some of the soft skills needed for success. Obtaining certification is optional; however, the credential may enhance standing in the field. Financial advisors advance by moving into managerial positions or by serving as independent representatives at brokerage and securities firms. After establishing loyal client bases, some financial planners decide to work independently.
Advisors begin what may become a lifelong relationship with a client with an in-person meeting where they learn about the client's financial resources and goals. The planner draws on her experience and training to create a comprehensive plan that will help the client achieve his goals. Advisors may meet with a client one or more times a year to review and modify the plan. While most financial planners provide broad advice, some specialize in retirement, estate planning or other aspects of financial planning. Financial advisors can build their customer bases by giving seminars and networking.
The BLS projects demand for personal financial advisors to increase 30 percent between 2008 and 2018. More advisors will be needed to advise retiring workers who are part of the "baby boom" generation. Over the next decade they will need experts to help them manage their financial portfolios. Greater assets among wealthy individuals along with new investment products will drive demand for private bankers and wealth managers. Due to the relatively low educational requirements to become a personal financial advisor, more people will pursue the career, and competition for jobs will increase, The BLS says.
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