Working as a financial planner, also known as a personal financial advisor, provides the opportunity to work directly with clients and businesses to navigate the fundamentals of personal finance.
Financial planners advise their clients on how to achieve their financial goals. Some financial planners provide full planning services without offering recommendations, while others offer both planning and transactional services.
Financial planners often work in a larger investment or insurance company, but there are some that operate independently. Regardless of the department structure or the environment in which they work, all financial planners have a similar job description.
Key points to remember
- A financial planner, or financial advisor, works directly with clients and businesses to help them navigate the world of personal finance.
- Financial planners help their clients achieve their financial goals, from saving and investing to planning for retirement.
- Financial planners typically work for large investment or insurance companies, but can also operate individually outside of a corporation.
- The education requirement to become a financial planner is not strict. Usually, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient; however, an MBA and other certifications help land jobs.
- Financial planners must take licensing exams based on their area of interest, such as Series 7 and 66.
Financial planners work with individuals, families and businesses to help these clients understand their financial situation and how to achieve their short and long term financial goals.
Clients provide relevant financial information during an initial interview, answering questions about their total annual income, debts, monthly non-debt expenses, current investments, savings account balances, bonds tax and insurance plans. Financial planners analyze this information and present realistic and meaningful recommendations based on the financial situation and goals of their clients.
Financial planners discuss many topics related to personal finance with their clients, including debt management, savings goals and strategies, and personal and family budgeting. They also discuss investment strategies, estate planning considerations, insurance protection planning, and retirement accumulation and distribution tactics.
Financial planners can provide information on tax efficiency, but they usually don’t process tax returns. A financial planner working with a business or institutional client can analyze and provide advice on topics such as cash flow, projected income, debt management, or employee benefits. Each of these aspects plays a role in the overall financial well-being of an individual or business, so financial planners can have a substantial impact on a client’s financial future.
Prospecting, which is finding new clients, is an important part of a financial planner’s job. This often involves networking with other established professionals, such as chartered accountants (CPAs) or estate planning lawyers. Financial planners can also attend and make connections at social or charity events. The prospecting process ensures that financial planners maintain relationships with their clients, thereby maintaining their high retention rates.
Education and formation
The financial planning career path does not require any formal higher education, but a bachelor’s degree is recommended. A graduate degree such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on finance or marketing can prove beneficial for someone who wishes to establish a financial planning company. However, a graduate degree is not required to be successful.
Financial planners must also hold certain licenses to provide advice and implement specific transactions related to securities or insurance. Securities licenses often include the Financial Sector Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Series 7, which tests knowledge of the securities industry and certain investment-related transactions, including the sale of variable annuities, options, government securities, municipal bonds and corporate securities.
A FINRA Series 66 license may also be required, which corresponds to the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) exam. Every FINRA license has continuing education requirements to maintain a good reputation with the regulatory body.
Additional certifications can help advance a career in financial planning. For example, the financial industry and potential clients hold the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation in high regard. A bachelor’s degree, an intensive six-hour exam and continuing education are required to obtain the CFP designation.
Successful financial planners quickly build strong relationships with their clients. Connecting with others is necessary for both the networking and customer retention aspects of the career. Likewise, clients should have confidence that their financial planner has their best interests in mind.
Financial planners thrive when they have in-depth knowledge and a passion for personal finance. Several factors play a role in creating and implementing a financial plan, and a financial planner should be familiar with financial matters. In addition, financial planners must be able to meaningfully interpret their clients’ financial data. The most successful financial planners can analyze and retain a substantial amount of information.
Financial planners in the United States earn an average base salary of about $ 67,775, according to Glassdoor, as of July 2021. However, most of a financial planner’s annual income comes from a combination of fee-based planning services and product commissions, such as the sale of securities, annuities, life insurance, or insurance. – Disability and mutual funds or exchange traded funds (ETFs). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020 (the most recent data available), the total compensation for a financial planner ranged from approximately $ 44,100 to over $ 208,000.
The median annual salary for a personal financial advisor in 2020 was $ 89,330.
A financial planner who works for a large investment firm or insurance company may earn a lower commission than one who runs his own business. However, the benefits of profit sharing plans, Medicare grants, and education reimbursement can offset the decline in commissions paid over time.
The bottom line
Financial planners help individuals achieve their financial goals, including saving, investing, and planning for retirement, which can be rewarding careers. To become a financial planner, a person must demonstrate knowledge of industry and personal finance, as well as social skills.
The educational requirements to become a financial planner are not high, a bachelor’s degree will suffice, while higher degrees and certifications help build a more solid career.
Depending on the region in which a financial planner works and the type of business, the salary can vary widely; however, in most cases, being a financial planner can be a lucrative career.