Do you want to know what is needed to be a certified financial advisor? If YES, here is a detailed guide on how to become a financial advisor without a degree.
If you are already in the financial industry or you have a degree or background in finance, then you can build a career as a certified financial advisor. Becoming a certified financial advisor might not come cheap, but it is worth pursing if indeed you want to earn big in the financial industry in the united states.
The truth is that becoming a certified financial advisor is a rewarding career and the demand for certified financial advisors in the United States is on the increase. Statistics has it that there are approximately 272,000 certified financial advisors in the United States.
On the average, the salary per annum for financial advisors in the United States is $67,520. The lowest ten percent of earners in this field made less than $32,280 and the top ten percent made more than $187,200 that same year.
Firstly, What is a Certified Financial Advisor?
A certified financial advisor is a professional whose core job is to help his or her clients make decisions that revolves around their finances, investment, tax, debt, and insurance concerns. Basically, certified financial advisors meet with their clients to determine their financial goals and help them create a financial plan that they can follow to reach them.
The scope of job of a certified financial advisor extends towards helping their clients make adequate plans for major decisions that affect their lives. Decisions like marriage, starting a family, sending children to school, and preparing for retirement.
Stock brokers, Insurance Agents, Tax preparer, Investment managers, Financial planners, Bankers even Estate planners could all be labelled as financial advisors. Money is a very important part of life especially if you have a lot of it, you would want to know how to secure all that money.
Usually when one comes into money, people would always offer advise on how to handle the money, but the best thing to do when we receive large sums of money is to get professional to help us develop ways to grow our money.
Job Description and Duties of a Financial Advisor
- Spending time and other resources especially during the early stages of their career, filling out their client roster by prospecting for new customers. They meet with a lot of individuals and try their best to convince them to become their client. They engage established clients and interview them to assess their risk tolerance and financial goals.
- Financial advisors recommend a variety of investments such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds and real estate to help clients to reach their goals for college savings, retirement and wealth building. They recommend an allocation of assets consistent with the risk tolerance of clients and their life stage.
In order to become a successful financial planner, you should have the following skills;
- Good at finance: you must understand the principles of finance, debt, insurance, investment and other complex financial concepts
- Communications and connections: Financial advisors need to be able to communicate complex financial terminologies and concepts to their clients in a way that they will be able to understand it. This goes to show that communication skills and the ability to connect with clients is essential.
- Sales and marketing: While sales and marketing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a financial advisor, there is no denying that the job of a financial planner is like a sales business in the sense that you will have to find your own clients with the use of your marketing skills.
- Organization and attention to detail: Of course, it may go without saying that organization is essential for a financial advisor to succeed.
- Problem solving skills: the major role of a financial advisor is to solve the complex financial difficulties in the life of his or her client. Once a client engages the services of a financial advisor, their expectations will be high, and as such, you should have the skills to manage this high level of expectation that will be put on you.
- Expertise and experience: Lastly, of course, you must have the expertise in the financial planning arena to be able to effectively do this kind of job. Experience in a similar field will also help you get hired, but with the right combination of all of the above, you are billed for success.
How to Become a Certified Financial Advisor Without a Degree
Sometimes people find themselves able to offer certain services for financial returns. Take for instance those who started careers in entertainment, broadcasting, advertisement, business development, business management and so on without actually being formally trained.
Or certain people who stumbled into certain careers by mistake but they made a resounding success out of it. One could say that they were gifted for such. Some might claim that since they are achieving so much success, they no longer need any kind of formal training.
But the truth is, if anyone wants to continue to grow in any field, whether they got into it by mistake or by natural talent, they would need some type of formal training. Not to mention if the profession is something as important as telling people what to do with their finances.
Is It Possible to Become a Financial Advisor Without a Degree?
The fact that financial advisors are dealing with people’s livelihoods, futures and the major thing that sustains their economic existence, it is not advisable to get into such a profession without being properly trained. In fact, in some countries, one cannot practice as a financial advisor if they do not have at least a Bsc in economics, banking and finance or even mathematics. After this basic degree is gotten, they must take a few tests or exams.
While having academic degrees is advisable for the role of a financial advisor, they will still need to obtain licenses in order to operate properly. If one does not have a degree, they may be limited in how high they can go in the business.
When people are looking for whom to advise them on their finances, they would rather choose a person who is trained, rather than one who simply has a flair for these things. The bottom line is that training cannot be over emphasized even if one may have a flair for investing and giving investment advice and has shown great success in the field.
So yes, a person can become a financial advisor without a degree only in certain countries, however if one is a financial advisor without a degree and it is allowed, they should use their new-found success to finance a degree so that they are not held back by anything as they advance in their profession.
Required Training You Need to Be a Financial Advisor
The first port of call if you want to become a certified financial advisor in the United States is to acquire the required training and you are expected to start with a minimum of bachelor’s degree. If you are looking towards enrolling for a degree in order to fulfill your dream of becoming a financial advisor, then you should endeavor to get bachelor’s degree in relevant courses such as accountancy, finance, business, law, mathematics, and statistics et al.
Once you acquire your degree in any of the above stated course, you can look for jobs in the financial industry to acquire on-the-job training. This is necessary because of the exposure you stand to gain.
It is non – negotiable that anyone who wants to become a certified financial advisor must hold a bachelor’s degree and hands – on experience. Your training and experience must cover areas such as accounting, insurance planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning, estate planning, and professional conduct amongst others.
Once you enroll in any program that is registered by the Certified Financial Planner Board, you are sure going to get the required trainings. As a matter of fact, in the United States of America, a host of colleges and universities across the country are registered by the CFP Board. Even if you are far away from the campus, you can take the course via an online platform.
Please note that it is not compulsory for you to earn a master’s degree before pursuing certifications as a financial advisor. This is so because any Certified Financial Planner Board – registered program will earn you a master’s degree. But it will be to your advantage to pursue a master’s degree in financial planning or an MBA with specialization in financial and tax planning.
You can contact organizations such as the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, the Financial Planning Association, and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors if you intend getting more information on how to become a certified financial advisor in the United States of America.
Registration and Licensure Requirements Needed to Be a Financial Advisor
Your registration and obtaining license as a certified financial advisor is anchored on the services you want to offer to your target market. For example, if you plan to engage in buying and selling of stocks in the United States of America, then you will be required to obtain a state license in the state you choose to operate.
So also, if you want to engage in the buying and selling of insurance policies for your clients, then you should obtain a license from the state you want to operate from.
As regards registration, it suffices to state that registration requirements usually depend on the size of the organization you represent as a financial advisor. On the other hand, certified financial advisors in the United States who work on freelance or for a small firm usually need to register with state regulatory agencies in the state they decide to operate from.
But if you choose to work for larger financial corporations, then you must register with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. Every state in the US have their own association of financial advisors and your state’s association might help you determine what kind of licenses you may be required to obtain to practice in your state.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Financial Adviser?
There is no one way to become a financial advisor, but irrespective of the path you choose to tow, you will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree under your belt. Prospective financial advisors might pursue degrees in business, law, mathematics, economics, accounting, or finance. Some financial advisors receive on-the-job training after being hired by a firm, while others take courses and complete their training independently.
Being successful as a financial adviser doesn’t always require lengthy periods of studying, but just as it was specified above, a degree will be needed. You may find it worthwhile to continue studying toward a graduate degree or to obtain a financial certification.
In order to become a certified financial planner, the following steps are involved:
- Initial Bachelor’s Degree: Most financial advisers usually have a bachelor’s degree under their belt before starting their profession as a Financial Planner. In order to complete an undergraduate program, you will need to spend at least 4 years in the higher institution (if you are undertaking a full-time study).
On the other hand, if a full-time study is not convenient for you, you can always undertake a part-time study in order to obtain a degree. A part-time study does not put you at any disadvantage whatsoever as a financial planner.
Also, note that your degree can be in any academic discipline, though majoring in course areas like finance, economics or accounting can help you meet the educational eligibility requirements for certain professional designations, such as a certified public accountant.
- MBA: A common course of graduate study that financial advisers choose is the Master of Business Administration, also known as MBA. It ultimately depends on whether you choose to take a full course load or to attend part time, but the typical MBA program can be completed in as little as 18 months.
Since the course of study for MBA programs focus exclusively on business-related topics such as finance, economics, accounting and marketing, the practical knowledge you gain can better prepare you for a financial-advising career.
- Certifications: if you intend to become a financial planner, then you should consider obtaining a certification in financial planning or any other closely related field. This is because a certification will improve you credibility. The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification is by far the most popular certification that financial advisers obtain.
You will need to pass a 10-hour exam that is offered only three times per year. Since the exam topics cover income, estate and gift taxation, retirement benefits, investments and other practical information about the financial planning process, the amount of time you’ll need to spend studying will depend on the depth of knowledge you possess in these areas as a result of prior academic work, related employment or both.
Getting your CPA and CFA Certification
The CFP is not the only form of certification that is available to people who wish to be certified financial planners. You can also choose to go through the Certified Public Accountants and Chartered Financial Analysts route. To take the CPA exam, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree with a sufficient number of courses taken in accounting and related business areas.
To become a CPA, you must pass a lengthy four-part exam. The amount of time you’ll need to study for each part can vary significantly since it depends on your level of familiarity with the topics covered, such as financial accounting and income taxation, but in most cases, each part will require more than just a few days of study given the scope of information covered.
The CFA certification is regarded highly in the finance industry but requires a more significant amount of study time than the CPA exam since there are three levels of testing. The CFA exam process takes an average of three-and-a-half years to complete.
Job Opportunities for Certified Financial Advisors
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast that employment of certified financial advisors will grow by 27 percent between 2012 and 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics attributes this growth to an increased need for retirement planning as the baby boom generation ages and fewer workers receive pension benefits through their jobs.
The job opportunities available for a certified financial advisor in the United States of America are vast. As a matter of fact, there are numerous large scale financial planning firms across the country and many smaller local firms as well.
In the United States, statistics has it that approximately 20 percent of certified financial advisors operate as freelancers; they are self – employed and you can choose to become one. This option is suitable for those who are self – starters and know how to reach out to their target market.
The fact that the financial services industry is a dynamic industry means that as a certified financial advisor you should always be on your toe; you should give yourself to continuous learning because of new laws and regulations that may crop up in the United States.
Take for instance, laws like tax reform legislation that is currently under consideration by the United States Congress, and your clients will expect you to have a full grasp of how the tax reform affects them and whether the changes are favorable or not.