Step by step guide to becoming a financial planner

Most people know they should manage their money wisely—but they don’t always know how to do it. That’s when they turn to financial advisors, who have the expertise to help them. Financial advisors undergo rigorous education and training to attain the certifications and skills necessary to succeed in this career. The path to becoming a professional financial advisor can be direct, or may include a number of twists, turns and side trips depending on past education and experience. This guide provides information to assist in weighing all of the pros and cons—including job duties, salary expectations, degree options, and step-by-step, in-depth instructions to becoming a financial advisor—to help readers decide if this is the right career choice.

What does a financial planner do?

Financial advisors help individuals make wise decisions regarding money management. They assess a person’s financial position, understand their needs and goals, and then make recommendations on how to best achieve them. Some financial advisors have diverse backgrounds and provide an array of general services, while others focus on a particular area such as retirement or tax law.

Financial advisors work in a variety of settings. Many are employed by large companies focusing on investments, finance or insurance, while others choose to work at a small firm or independently. Self-employed financial advisors are often part-salesmen. They must market their services to attract potential clients, so they spend a portion of their time teaching seminars or networking at various functions after office hours.

What kind of skills are required?

Some of the skills that are very useful as a financial planner are listed below.

  1. Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  2. Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  3. Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
  4. Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
  5. Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  6. Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  7. Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

The steps to becoming a financial planner

  1. Earn the right Degree
  2. Serve as an intern
  3. Obtain certifications and licenses
  4. Land an entry level job
  5. Return to school