Financial Planning and Advising

Financial planners and advisors help both individuals and organizations manage money and invest wisely. Keep reading to learn about education, employment and certification options for financial experts, as well as how much you might earn in the field.

Is Financial Planning and Advising for Me?

Career Overview

Financial planners and advisors help clients make decisions about investments, retirement plans, taxes and real estate matters. As a financial planner, you might study individual or organizational investment portfolios and make investments on behalf of clients. Prior to investing, you'll assess their incomes, assets and expenses, as well as help them plan for financial goals. Financial planning and advising professionals need a solid foundation in mathematics, accounting, finance and investing.

Career Options

In addition to a position as a financial advisor or planner, you might find employment as a portfolio manager or investment advisor; many personal financial advisors choose self-employment. Your career options may also extend beyond financial planning companies. For example, you could work for an insurance or investing company, a bank or an accounting firm. Additional opportunities might be found at credit counseling agencies or the human resources or benefits divisions of corporations.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that jobs for personal financial advisors would increase 27% nationwide, or much faster than average, between 2012 and 2022. As of May 2013, personal financial advisors earned a median salary of $75,320 as reported by the BLS (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Financial Planning and Advising?

Educational Options

A bachelor's degree in business, finance, accounting and economics may qualify you for a position as a personal financial advisor. Earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Science in Finance, along with a professional certification, may boost your opportunities for promotions. Doctoral programs in financial planning are useful if you want to conduct research or teach at a university.

According to the BLS, an increasing number of schools are offering bachelor's degree programs in financial planning. Graduate certificates and master's degree programs in financial planning are also available. Some undergraduate and graduate business programs allow for a concentration in financial planning. In a financial planning program, you may study accounting, business, international finance and investing. Topics in estate planning, taxation and wealth management may also be part of your program.

Required Skills

As a financial planner, you'll need to be proficient in the use of financial analysis and spreadsheet software. Good communications skills plus sales and customer service abilities will also be beneficial in this field.

Certification and Licensing

After graduating and joining the work force, you can seek certification as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (www.cfp.net). Requirements include a bachelor's degree and three years of financial planning experience. You'll also need to pass a test and meet the organization's ethical standards. You'll need a license to sell stocks, bonds, investment advice and insurance. Depending on their size, companies that manage investments must be registered by state regulators or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

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