What Is the Job Outlook for a Financial Advisor?

People turn to financial advisers when they need help making decisions about college funding, estate planning, insurance, investments, retirement, taxes and wealth management. Read on to find out about the economic outlook for this career, the factors influencing employment growth and ways to improve your job prospects. Schools offering Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Education and Training Requirements

Most employers who hire financial advisors prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in accounting, business, or finance. Coursework in financial planning, investments, tax law and related fields is a plus, as is training to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or a Chartered Financial Consultant. Both let potential clients know that the financial adviser is fully trained and meets professional qualifications.

Important Facts About Financial Advisors

Median Salary (2014) $81,060 per year (for personal financial advisors)
On-the-Job Training Standard training period under direct supervision
Work Environment Analytical thinking, interpersonal, mathematical proficiency, sales acumen, excellent oration
Similar Occupations Budget analyst, financial analyst, financial manager, insurance sales agent, insurance underwriter, real estate broker, real estate sales agent, securities, commodities, and financial services sales agent

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Expected Employment Growth

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that from 2014-2024, job opportunities for personal financial advisors are expected to grow significantly faster than employment in other occupations. Growth during this decade is expected to reach 30%, which will result in a projected increase of 60,300 jobs in the field. While 249,400 personal financial advisors were employed in 2014, the BLS projects there will be 323,200 employed by 2024.

Factors Influencing Growth

The strong financial advisor employment growth is partly due to the sizable number of baby boomers seeking retirement advice, according to the BLS. Since these individuals are living longer lives and will have more years of retirement, they will need help with financial planning.

Another factor influencing growth is the trend away from company-managed pension plans and toward employee-directed retirement savings accounts. Individuals often seek advice about which financial products they should purchase for their needs.

Ways to Improve Job Prospects

According to the BLS, self-employed financial advisors made up 20% of those working in the field in 2014. Their earnings depend on their abilities to successfully find clients, market their services and sell their products. Therefore, successful candidates will most often possess the following skills:

  • Good interpersonal skills, including the ability to gain clients' trust
  • Strong sales potential
  • Strong analytical skills to use information that will help clients make investment decisions that can sometimes be risky
  • An aptitude for math
  • Strong speaking skills, including the ability to discuss financial concepts in terms that clients can easily understand

In addition, the BLS notes that a candidate with a master's degree and professional certification may have better job prospects than someone with only a bachelor's degree. The CFP credential is especially important. Before you can become a CFP, you need to possess both work experience in the field and a bachelor's degree. The certification process involves successfully completing the exam, followed by agreeing to follow the ethical code of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

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