Personal financial advisors provide advice to help individuals manage their finances and plan for their financial future.
What they do
Personal financial advisors provide advice on investments, insurance, mortgages, college savings, estate planning, taxes, and retirement to help individuals manage their finances.
Personal financial advisors typically do the following:
- Meet with clients in person to discuss their financial goals
- Explain the types of financial services they provide to potential clients
- Educate clients and answer questions about investment options and potential risks
- Recommend investments to clients or select investments on their behalf
- Help clients plan for specific circumstances, such as education expenses or retirement
- Monitor clients’ accounts and determine if changes are needed to improve financial performance or to accommodate life changes, such as getting married or having children
- Research investment opportunities
Personal financial advisors assess the financial needs of individuals and help them with decisions on investments (such as stocks and bonds), tax laws, and insurance. Advisors help clients plan for short- and long-term goals, such as meeting education expenses and saving for retirement through investments. They invest clients’ money based on the clients’ decisions. Many advisors also provide tax advice or sell insurance.
Although most planners offer advice on a wide range of topics, some specialize in areas such as retirement or risk management (evaluating how willing the investor is to take chances and adjusting investments accordingly).
Many personal financial advisors spend a lot of time marketing their services, and they meet potential clients by giving seminars or participating in business and social networking. Networking is the process of meeting and exchanging information with people, or groups of people, who have similar interests.
After financial advisors have invested funds for a client, they and the client receive regular investment reports. Advisors monitor the client’s investments and usually meet with each client at least once a year to update the client on potential investments and to adjust the financial plan based on the client’s circumstances or because investment options may have changed.
Many personal financial advisors are licensed to directly buy and sell financial products, such as stocks, bonds, annuities, and insurance. Depending on the agreement they have with their clients, personal financial advisors may have the client’s permission to make decisions about buying and selling stocks and bonds.
Private bankers or wealth managers are personal financial advisors who work for people who have a lot of money to invest. These clients are similar to institutional investors (commonly, companies or organizations), and they approach investing differently than the general public does. Private bankers manage a collection of investments, called a portfolio, for these clients by using the resources of the bank, including teams of financial analysts, accountants, and other professionals.
Personal financial advisors typically work in offices. Some also travel to attend conferences, teach finance seminars in the evening, and attend networking events to bring in more clients.
Most personal financial advisors work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week. They often go to meetings on evenings and weekends to meet with prospective or existing clients.
How to become a Personal Financial Advisor
Personal financial advisors typically need a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree and certification can improve one’s chances for advancement in the occupation.
Personal financial advisors typically need a bachelor’s degree. Although employers usually do not require personal financial advisors to have completed a specific course of study, a degree in finance, economics, accounting, business, mathematics, or law is good preparation for this occupation. Courses in investments, taxes, estate planning, and risk management are also helpful. Programs in financial planning are becoming more available in colleges and universities.
Once they are hired, personal financial advisors often enter an on-the-job training period. During this time, new advisors work under the supervision of senior advisors and learn how to perform their duties, including building a client network and developing investment portfolios. This training usually lasts for more than a year.
Personal financial advisors who directly buy or sell stocks, bonds, or insurance policies, or who provide specific investment advice, need a combination of licenses that varies with the products they sell. In addition to being required to have those licenses, advisors in smaller firms that manage clients’ investments must be registered with state regulators and those in larger firms must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Personal financial advisors who choose to sell insurance need licenses issued by state boards. Information on state licensing board requirements for registered investment advisors is available from the North American Securities Administrators Association.
Certifications can enhance a personal financial advisor’s reputation and can help bring in new clients. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards offers the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification. For this certification, advisors must have a bachelor’s degree, complete at least 3 years of relevant work experience, pass an exam, and agree to adhere to a code of ethics. The CFP exam covers the general principles of financial planning, insurance planning, risk management, employee benefits planning, income taxes and retirement planning, investment and real estate planning, debt management, planning liability, emergency fund reserves, and statistical modeling.
The median annual wage for personal financial advisors was $87,850 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $42,950, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.
Employment of personal financial advisors is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
The primary driver of employment growth will be the aging population. As large numbers of baby boomers approach retirement, more are likely to seek planning advice from personal financial advisors. Also, longer lifespans will lead to longer retirement periods, further increasing demand for financial planning services.
In addition, the replacement of traditional pension plans with individual retirement accounts is expected to continue. Many people used to receive defined pension payments in retirement, but most companies no longer offer these plans. Therefore, individuals must save and invest for their own retirement, increasing the demand for personal financial advisors.
Similar Job Titles
Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Financial Advisor, Financial Consultant, Financial Counselor, Financial Planner, Investment Adviser, Investment Advisor, Portfolio Manager, Registered Representative, Wealth Advisor
Credit Analyst, Loan Officer, Insurance Sales Agent, Sales Agent (Securities and Commodities), Sales Agent (Financial Services)
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Bar Association
- American Institute of CPAs
- Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards
- CFA Institute
- The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
Magazines and Publications
The weighty responsibility of investing individuals’ savings and helping them build a secure retirement… takes both financial knowledge and interpersonal skills. Personal financial advisors provide advice on investments, home ownership, estate planning, and more… to help people manage their finances and plan for the future. Personal financial advisors start by determining a client’s financial needs and how much risk they’re comfortable with, then helping set short- and long-term goals. Advisors are experts on the benefits and limitations of many different types of investments, such as mutual funds, stocks and bonds, real estate, and related issues such as insurance and the tax implications of different investments. Marketing their services to potential clients is an ongoing part of the job. To build their client base, personal financial advisors give seminars, participate in networking events, and seek referrals from current clients. Typically, advisors meet annually with clients to discuss their investment portfolio and make adjustments. Most personal financial advisors work in the finance and insurance industry, and many others are self-employed. They usually work full time in offices, and some may meet with clients during evenings and weekends. Personal financial advisors typically need a bachelor’s degree; majoring in finance, economics, accounting, math, or law are all good preparation. Finance is a highly regulated field: specific licenses are required to sell different investment or insurance products. Advisors may need to register with state regulators or the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org