Certified Financial Planner Job Description, Duties and Career Options

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a certified financial planner. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and professional certification to find out if this is the career for you.

When individuals and businesses need advice regarding their money, they often turn to certified financial planners. In this article, you'll be introduced to this field and learn the related educational requirements and job outlook.

Essential Information

A certified financial planner, also called a personal financial advisor, works with individuals and businesses to guide them in making budgetary, savings and investment decisions. They need good communication and interpersonal skills in addition to financial knowledge. Many financial planners are self-employed, but there are opportunities with banks, investment firms and other businesses. A bachelor's degree is usually required, preferably in finance or a related field.

Certification is not mandatory for financial planners, but can help with career advancement. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards requires a degree, experience and passing a competency examination for certification. The sale of certain products, such as insurance or bonds, may require a state license.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements License may be required for selling certain products; professional certification recommended
Projected Job Growth 30% from 2014-2024*
Median Salary $89,160 (2015)*

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Certified Financial Planner Job Description

Certified financial planners work with individuals to meet short- and long-term financial goals. They understand complex legal and financial documents and are knowledgeable of financial laws and legal restrictions. Certified financial planners also have a good command of investments and security planning, estate planning, tax planning, employee benefits planning and insurance planning.

Learning about a client's financial situation is crucial to developing realistic plans so financial planners must interview clients thoroughly, by reviewing fiscal situations and developing tools to assist in meeting financial goals. Financial tools include developing a family budget, tax-sheltered investment plan, retirement savings and a major purchase timeline.

Common Duties

Common job duties include interviewing clients, analyzing financial information, recommending financial plans and monitoring outcomes. These duties require strong analytical skills and a desire to work with people, as well as excellent communication and interpersonal skills to work in this people-oriented business.

A persuasive and articulate communication style is helpful. The ability to use databases and conduct financial research, in addition to excellent math skills, are necessary for success in the industry.

Career Options

Many certified financial planners are self-employed and operate their own financial business. Others are employed by savings and loan institutions, investment companies, banks, insurance companies and financial institutions. Advancement within some companies is dependent on the certified financial planner's ability to generate business. Additional career options include financial consulting, teaching and conducting workshops.

Certified financial planners may seek further training to expand career options. They may pursue specialized training in stocks and securities, banking, insurance and taxes. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards offers certification and advanced courses for those interested in working with securities.

Once you've earned a bachelor's degree--most likely in an area related to finance, such as economics, accounting, business or law--you might be able to conduct business on your own as a financial planner. A master's degree and certification can enhance your reputation, broaden your employment and advancement options, as well as increase the types of products with which you're allowed to deal. In some cases, state licensure might be required.

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