How to become a financial planner


About the job:

Let’s take a look at the terminology first. Many people use the term “financial advisor” to refer to someone who helps them, in essence, plan for their financial well-being. But, said George D. Marron (CQ) of High Falls Advisors, “It’s a pretty generic term. Anyone who offers financial advice to clients is a financial advisor. This includes, for example, brokers and fund managers.

Marron is a certified financial planner, a position he says requires the completion of a wide range of courses. The job involves working with potential and current clients, presenting and implementing financial plans as well as reviewing and updating plans already in place. Estate planning, tax planning, retirement planning, and health insurance options are just some of the things involved.

“Ideally, you start with someone in the pre-retirement phase,” Marron said. “You walk them through the process, make sure they’re well invested, that they have a usable retirement spending plan. Financial planners, of course, need to keep abreast of the financial world and financial planning concepts to help clients develop a “nest egg” with which they are comfortable.

Required qualities :

“You have to want to help people,” Marron said. “You have to be a ‘sociable person’. People understand when you are genuine. Financial planners need to understand the wants and needs of their clients and be sensitive to their concerns because, after all, they are working with the money clients have accumulated.

Financial planners need to be good with numbers, have an eye for detail, an interest in investment options and be comfortable with data analysis.

Marron said financial planners should be good communicators and educators who can make sometimes complex financial concepts understandable. “Curiosity doesn’t hurt either,” he added.

Mark Wedel, Managing Partner of Wedel Financial Group, visits Connie Stevens at a financial planning meeting in Salina, Kansas.

Education / training needed:

To become a Certified Financial Planner, or CFP, applicants must have a college degree and complete the courses required by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. This national organization establishes and applies CFP certification standards. Prospective CFPs must pass an exam and then complete 4,000 to 6,000 hours (CQ) of financial planning – either working under another CFP or working in areas such as investments and estate planning, Marron said.

What the job pays:

An entry-level CFP can expect to earn around $ 60,000 (CQ) per year, and those with more experience can earn $ 100,000 (CQ) or more, Marron said. “It depends on where you work and who you work with,” he added. According to the New York State Department of Labor, the median salary in the Finger Lakes region for the position of “personal financial advisor” is just over $ 93,000 (CQ) per year.

The photo of the work:

Marron said there should be more demand for newbie financial advisers (or planners) due to the demographics of an aging population. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates job growth for “personal financial advisers” at 4% through the end of the decade, or “as fast as average”.


“We tend not to have a lot of clients under the age of 50,” Marron said. “These are people who are about to retire, or retired… You have to understand what we call ‘measures of risk’. You help them make sure their assets match their expectations. All of this is achievable.

Where to find out more:

A good website to check for Certified Financial Planner position is

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Alan Morrell is a Rochester-based freelance writer.


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