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Certified Financial Consultant Career and Certification

A financial consultant helps clients with their financial investments and future plans. Read on to learn more about job duties, certification, and education options, as well as salary and job outlook info.

What You Need to Know

Financial consultants are professionals who advise or handle a person's investments. Many financial consultants gain certification to work with multiple clients, whose primary concerns may regard family issues, career or property investments, and retirement.

Certification Voluntary Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification is offered through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards
Job Duties Educate clients on available financial services, recommend investments, monitor client investments and accounts, research investment opportunities, help clients plan for life events such as college educations and retirement
Salary (2017)* $90,640 (median annual salary for personal financial advisers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do I Attain Certification?

Certification is not necessarily required in this field. However, it may help with career advancement, and some states or companies may require you to be certified (www.bls.gov). You will typically need to gain state licensure if your position as a financial consultant will involve buying or selling stocks, bonds, or insurance.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP) provides certification for financial consultants. You are able to take the CFP certification examination before or after you complete a bachelor's degree. There are many courses the CFP prefers you take in order to successfully pass the exam, including:

  • Financial planning
  • Taxes
  • Employee benefits
  • Income taxes
  • Retirement
  • Estate planning

CFP capstone courses are mandatory for certification as of January 1, 2012 (www.cfp.net).

You can waive your education requirement if you hold certification with other organizations or if you have a higher-level degree. For example, if you are a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), you just need to take the CFP exam. In addition, holders of a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Economics, a Ph.D. in Business, or a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) meet the education requirement. Professionals such as licensed accountants or attorneys can also waive the education requirement to gain certification (www.cfp.net).

What Is the Career Like?

As a financial consultant, your responsibilities might include helping a client decide what investments are best, determining how that client can best save up for retirement or future investments, figuring out what taxes apply to certain investments, and assessing if a client's income, savings, bonds, investments, or life goals are financially problematic.

You might sometimes also go by the title of financial adviser when working in this field, and you should be personally in tune with a client's wants and desires in order to help them reach their financial goals and be successful in your position. You may work alone, handling multiple clients by yourself, or work for a firm that holds the accounts of dozens to hundreds of clients. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you must typically be personable with clients, meeting with them annually to discuss how their financial investments are performing and what they must do to invest wisely (www.bls.gov).

Almost one-third of the financial industry's consultants work independently of firms and hold their own offices and clients. Consultants are needed everywhere in the country, but New York, Florida, and California have the most consultants working in their states. Occupation projections reveal that the industry will grow over the decade due to the increase in retirees and professionals who control their own savings compared to pension workers. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for personal financial advisers in May 2017 was $90,640 (www.bls.gov).

According to the Financial Planning Association, most client concerns are with family, home, career, or retirement investments. A lot of times, you have to help a client who lost capital or investments through natural disasters, a divorce, or a job loss. This often means that your role as a financial consultant combines professional insight and a vested personal interest in helping your clients personally succeed (www.fpanet.org).