Business Careers: Personal Financial Advisor

Personal financial advisors typically use the skills acquired through a bachelor’s degree to analyze client’s finances, suggest strategies for improving cash flow and implement financial planning recommendations. (1, 3) These professionals not only generally monitor a client’s portfolio and help them plan for retirement, they also typically attend conventions and seminars to market their services and gain new clients. They also usually spend a great deal of time researching new investment opportunities and keeping clients investment plans up-to-date. (1, 3, 5)
How to Become a Personal Financial Advisor
To assess the financial needs of individuals, personal financial advisors typically need at least a bachelor’s degree. (1) According to ONet Online in 2010, 57 percent of these workers had a bachelor’s degree, while 21 percent had a post-bachelor’s certificate and another 11 percent held a professional degree. (3) While degree programs in personal finance are available, these professionals could get the skills they need through several majors including finance, accounting, business and economics. (1) These programs are designed to provide students with a broad education in accounting, management, business law and marketing with career specific courses in investments, taxation, risk management and estate planning. Prospective financial advisors gain real-world training through the completion of a capstone experience or internship. (4, 5)
Depending on the type of investment advice these professionals provide or the investments managed and bought for clients, personal financial advisors may need to be licensed through their state. Specific details about the different licenses and regulations are available through the North American Securities Administration Association. (1) Voluntary certification — as a Certified Financial Planner — is available through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. In addition to holding a bachelor’s and having three years of experience, applicants must pass a computer-based, multiple-choice test that covers several facets of the financial planning process. (1, 6)
Due to the aging population and longer life spans, the need for personal financial advisors is expected to be much faster than average – at 27 percent – from 2012-2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (1) Personal financial advisors made a mean annual wage of $99,920 in May 2013; however, the lowest 10 percent made $33,190 or less, while the top 10 percent made $187,199 or more. The BLS listed the annual mean wages for the top five industries with the highest level of employment as follows in May 2013: (2)
• Other Financial Investment Activities: $117,460
• Securities and Commodities Contracts Intermediation and Brokerage: $104,900
• Depository Credit Intermediation: $74,730
• Nondepository Credit Intermediation: $68,530
• Management of Companies Enterprises: $92,700
Work Life
Usually in the comfort of an office or cubicle, personal financial advisors meet with clients to discuss financial goals and explain financial services. While these workers may work a full-time, standard workweek, several financial advisors attend meetings, teach financial classes or travel to conferences on evenings and weekends to gain additional clients. About a third worked more than 40-hour workweeks, and 20 percent were self-employed in 2012, according to the BLS. (1)
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Personal Financial Advisor, on the Internet at (visited October 13, 2014).
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2014-15 Edition, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, on the Internet at (visited October 13, 2014).
3. ONet Online, Personal Financial Advisor, on the Internet at (visited October 13, 2014).
4. Liberty University, Financial Planning, on the Internet at (visited October 13, 2014).
5. Franklin University, Financial Planning Degree Program, on the Internet at (visited October 13, 2014).
6. CFP Board, About the CFP Exam, on the Internet at (visited October 13, 2014).