In most cases, financial advisors need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field, though some employers prefer job applicants who hold a master's degree. A financial advisor must also obtain proper licensure.
A bachelor's degree in this field normally takes four years to complete, while a master's degree will take two years. Students pursuing a graduate degree in finance may choose a specialization, like asset management, real estate management, or insurance risk.
Bachelor of Science in Finance
Financial advisors work with clients on their short- and long-term financial goals by guiding them in decisions about investments and insurance and helping them understand tax laws. A bachelor's degree program in finance or a related field, such as accounting, economics or law, can give aspiring financial advisors a basic understanding of financial markets, as well as various fiscal management techniques.
A high school diploma and minimum standardized test scores typically are needed for admission to a bachelor's degree program. Those seeking to major in finance or a related field also should show proficiency in mathematics and basic accounting.
A bachelor's degree program in finance provides students with straightforward financial knowledge while introducing them to high-level economic theory. Courses might include:
- Risk management
- Financial accounting
- Corporate finance
- Operations management
- Investment management
Master of Science in Finance
A Master of Science in Finance might be beneficial for financial advisors seeking jobs at more competitive firms. This degree generally emphasizes the theoretical facets of finance and delves into high-level economic analysis formulas.
Applicants to graduate degree programs in finance generally must have an undergraduate background in finance or a related field. Graduate schools also usually require recent Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, a resume and 2-3 recommendation letters.
Common finance courses at the graduate level might include:
- Finance theory
- Financial engineering
- Advanced corporate finance
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Advanced accounting
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The employment outlook for personal financial advisor positions was expected to be favorable, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Job opportunities for personal financial advisors were projected to grow 30% for the years 2014 through 2024. These professionals made median annual wages of $89,160 as of May 2015.
Licensure and Certification
Possessing Series 7 and Series 66 licenses from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) qualifies one to register as an investment advisor and general securities representative. Additionally, financial advisors can boost their marketability through various voluntary certifications, such as Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP). The latter requires a bachelor's degree, three years of related experience and a passing score on an exam.
Undergraduate and graduate degrees in finance give graduates the opportunity to pursue financial advisor careers as well as professional certification. Job opportunities for personal financial advisors were expected to grow at a higher rate than other careers from 2014 through 2024.