What Is a Financial Consultant?

Financial consultants provide investment, tax, and insurance advice to individuals and companies. Read on to discover the education you'll need to become a financial consultant, as well as the different types of financial consultant careers available to you. Schools offering Finance degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Overview

If you're considering a career in financial advising, you may choose to become a broker, an investment adviser, or a personal financial planner. Regardless of your specialization, you'll be responsible for providing financial advice to individuals or businesses. You may assist your clients with making investment decisions, negotiating tax laws, and purchasing insurance. You may choose to work with an investment firm, or you may work independently, although the decision you make may affect your salary.

Important Facts About Financial Consultants

Professional Certification Varies depending upon occupation; some examples include Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Key Skills Excellent math foundation, clear written and spoken communication, attention to detail, competent computer knowledge, analytical ability
Work Environment Securities, commodities, and other financial investment companies; credit intermediation and related activities; insurance carriers; professional, scientific, and technical services
Similar Occupations Financial managers; budget analysts; insurance underwriters; securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents

Investment Advisers and Brokers

If you work as an investment adviser or a broker, you'll give advice to clients about stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other securities. As a broker, you may also sell specific securities to potential clients. You may specialize in one type of security, or you may manage a client's entire portfolio, which means that you'll need to know market trends for all different types of securities. Although some brokers and investment advisers work on their own, you'll likely work for a brokerage or an investment firm. As of May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reported that financial analysts earned a mean annual wage of $92,250.

Personal Financial Planners

As a personal financial planner, you'll have many of the responsibilities of a broker or an investment adviser, but you'll generally work independently to find and maintain client relationships. In addition, you may be expected to provide advice about retirement, estate planning, or risk management. The BLS stated that you'll likely have to secure clients through successful networking strategies. The BLS reported that personal financial planners earned a mean yearly salary of $108,090 as of May 2014.

Educational Requirements

According to the BLS, if you want to work as a financial consultant, you'll typically need to earn at least a bachelor's degree and, in many cases, a Master of Business Administration (MBA). You might specialize in accounting, finance, economics, or a related field. If you enroll in an MBA program, you'll take courses in:

  • Financial planning
  • Marketing
  • Operations management
  • Business and government
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Corporate accountability

Depending on your school, you may also have the opportunity to participate in internships or field studies, where you'll receive hands-on experience in the discipline of your choice. MBA programs generally take one to two years to complete.

Registration Requirements

According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA, www.finra.org), to be a broker or investment adviser in charge of large client investments, you'll usually need to register with FINRA or with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which oversees the securities industry. You'll want to first check your state's specific requirements, but you'll typically need to undergo an application process and pass an exam. FINRA reported that most personal financial planners don't necessarily need to register with a governing body.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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