Financial Advisor Career Options and Employment Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation necessary to become a financial advisor. Get an overview of the requirements, degree programs and job duties to find out if this career is right for you.

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Financial advisors help clients manage their money and investments. They generally hold bachelor's degrees, and some positions call for state licensing. Obtaining professional certification can offer a leg up in this highly-competitive, fast-growing field.

Essential Information

Financial advisors are responsible for helping their clients keep their preferred balance of income from investments, as well as arranging their savings plans, retirement provisions and other financial activity. A bachelor's degree in finance or a related field is the most common academic requirement. Financial advisors who buy securities or stocks usually need state licensure. Voluntary certification in financial planning can demonstrate an advisor's expertise to employers and potential clients.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Additional Requirements State licensure required for some advisors; voluntary certification is available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 30%
Average Salary (2015)* $118,050

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Financial Advisor Career Options

Financial advisors typically work in banks, financial investment firms or independently from their own homes. Specific job titles can include personal finance advisor, portfolio manager, financial planner, lending analyst, wealth strategist or personal banker.

Financial advisors usually commence working with a client by setting up a face-to-face meeting to discuss their financial goals and concerns. From there, the financial advisors customize investment and savings plans, assess investment risks and answer any questions the client may have. Advisors also set up long-term and short-term goals for their clients, which may include deciding to put their money in mutual funds, bonds and stocks.

Financial advisors typically work 40 hours a week, sometimes working on evenings and weekends to have meetings with clients, network or travel to attend conferences. Depending on their employer (or whether or not they are self-employed), a financial advisor can be fee-based - meaning the advisor charges a fee and earns commission on the product - or fee-only, in which all of advisor's earnings are paid directly from the client.

Because many financial advisors are responsible for finding their own clients, it is a highly competitive field. Those interested in the field of financial advising should possess strong sales and people skills, as well as extensive knowledge in finance. Most have at least a bachelor's degree in an area like finance, accounting or business; many have master's degrees as well.

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 197,580 employed financial advisors in 2015. The BLS predicted that the field would grow faster than average by 30% between 2014-2024, since a large portion of the baby boomer generation will reach retirement status and will likely be interested in savings and personal investments. There is also expected to be a growing need for financial advisors and wealth management associates due to many companies implementing retirement savings plans in place of traditional pension plans. This change causes more people to have to manage their own finances.

Financial advisors must have a background in finance or money management, preferably a bachelor's degree and master's degree. It is a competitive job, and good customer relations and people skills are also important, as financial advisors deal directly with clients. Growth in this field is very rapid over the next 10 years.

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