How Do I Become a Financial Advisor?

If you are comfortable working with numbers, enjoy the excitement of financial investments and are a natural salesperson, you may be wondering how to become a financial advisor. Finance is a lucrative and growing field. A financial advisor plays a key role in the field of finance by guiding clients in making smart investments that allow them to grow their finances.

Financial advisors are formally referred to as personal financial advisors. As the job title implies, these professionals typically manage money for people, individuals and families, rather than big corporations. Financial advisors spend time with their clients in person, getting to know what goals their clients have. For example, a client may want to save money toward a specific long-term goal, such as retirement or a child’s college tuition fund. Other clients may have questions about risk management and how to best protect their families and assets through insurance policies or how to plan their estates in the event of their deaths. Financial advisors research investment opportunities and recommend the ones that seem to fit a client’s needs.

Because many investment opportunities involve some degree of risk, a financial advisor should be honest with clients about what risk accompany the specific investment and how comfortable the client is with taking that risk. This allows clients to make informed decisions regarding their money and investments. Once they make an investment on behalf of a client, financial advisors must continue to monitor the status of that investment and notify clients of their gains or losses.

Aspiring financial advisors can begin learning the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in this career path by attaining a formal education from an accredited school. Students who are interested in careers in financial advising typically major in business, economics, accounting or mathematics during their undergraduate career, though certain colleges and universities are now offering degree programs in financial planning. If the aspiring financial advisor intends to sell stocks or insurance policies personally, he or she must also seek state-mandated licensure to do so.

Personal financial advisors earned a median annual salary of $64,750 in 2010, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These wages do not include bonuses, which can be lucrative. The BLS salary report also does not include the earnings of self-employed financial advisors, which made up nearly one-quarter of all personal financial advisors. Because finance is a growing field, personal financial advisors can also look forward to a significant increase in career opportunities in the future. The BLS predicts that positions in this occupation will grow by 32 percent during the 2010 to 2020 decade, much faster than the only 14 percent of growth expected across all occupations. If you enjoy working with both numbers and people and have an interest in discovering the next great investment opportunity, knowing how to become a financial advisor could be your first step toward an exciting new career in the rapidly-growing field of finance.

Featured Degree Programs