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What College Courses Do You Need to Be a Financial Advisor?

To become a financial advisor, also known as a financial planner, students should earn a degree and obtain licensure or certification, if needed. Courses for financial advisors vary from estate and retirement planning to insurance planning.

Essential Information

Financial advisors need to be knowledgeable in estate planning, taxes, risk management and various types of investments. A bachelor's degree is usually the minimum requirement for becoming a financial advisor. While there are degree programs in financial planning available, students may also pursue a degree in another business field, including accounting, finance or economics. Common financial advising courses include tax planning, investment, risk management, estate planning and retirement planning.

After earning a degree, aspiring financial advisors need to pursue licensure if they plan to sell or buy types of investments and insurance. They can also pursue the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) credential after they gain three years of work experience in the field. Degree programs in financial planning generally prepare students for this certification exam. Graduates of bachelor's programs may also pursue a master's degree in business administration, financial planning or finance for career advancement opportunities.

Here are some common concepts found in financial advisor courses:

  • Economic strategies
  • Relationships with clients
  • Regulations
  • Accounting principles
  • Calculations
  • Speculation
  • Government's role in economics

List of Courses

Financial Planning Course

This course provides an overview of the many financial vehicles and strategies available to people planning for their future, such as taxation, retirement and estate planning. Students examine how to collect and analyze data from their clients and then how to set goals and construct financial plans for said client. The course then goes on to instruct students in implementing the plan and reviewing it at regular intervals to see how it is performing. Common topics covered include regulatory environment, money tools and communication skills.

Tax Planning Course

In this course, students discuss taxation laws, tax planning strategies and tax computations. Students learn the basics for accounting, recovery, exclusions and exemptions. This course prepares students to minimize a client's taxes through charitable donations, deductions, stock options and other methods.

Investment Course

Students examine the various investments available to clients, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, government securities and real estate. Students learn to calculate the risk tolerance of their clients, their income needs and the desired return on investment. Students look at possible problems when investing and learn to handle such situations with clients.

Estate Planning Course

Course investigates wills, powers of attorney, probate procedures and estate planning. The course looks at weighing tax vs. non-tax aspects of estate planning. Students discuss generation-skipping transfer taxes, gifting and marital contributions. Forms, procedures and trusts are a point of focus for future financial planners to use with clients.

Risk Management Course

Students learn how to assess risk factors and properly advise clients of the insurances they should be seeking. Liability, life and property insurance are the most common insurances that may be taken out after assessing risk values. Students gain an overview of insurance policies and learn how to read insurance proposals and claims. Students pay special attention to annuities, death benefits and legal aspects of insurance.

Retirement Planning Course

Students learn about IRAs (individual retirement accounts), pensions and government benefits in this course. A client's portfolio for retirement planning should be considered. Tax laws for retirement may be looked at. Topics may include cash compensation, health coverage and fringe benefits. This course provides an overview of social security benefits and tax exempt retirement packages.

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