Become Financial Planner in USA
1. Decide whether you want to be a financial adviser.
Being a financial adviser is a rewarding career, but it requires certain skills and can involve hectic working hours. There are many people who think being a financial advisor is all about mathematics, it actually is very people-centric and involves your communication skills and ability to help families access their current financial position. Technology has made the science of investing much easier now than in the past, but learning to communicate complex ideas to investors surely takes time and experience.
- Some financial advisors start as unpaid interns, so ask yourself if you’re willing to start at the bottom and work up. Additionally, keep in mind that traditional financial advising is a sales position in that you are constantly trying to gather clients and convince them to invest their money. If you don’t handle rejection well, you might want to consider another career. More professional firms will focus on building long term relationships and serving clients over their investing lifetime.
- Alternatively, start with a small company. Instead of trying to get in with a large investment firm, try starting out with a smaller company. You might not go through the same structured training regimen, but you’ll have opportunities for one-on-one mentoring and be able to broaden your knowledge by performing several different tasks for different clients.
- Become a Certified Financial Planner…? Some financial advisors become CFPs. To do so, you must take preparation courses at an accredited college or university, pass a two-day, ten-hour exam, have three years of work experience, and have a four-year college degree. (If you already have a pre-approved professional designation, you can register for the exam without taking the prep courses. People who can waive the education requirement include PhDs in business or economics, attorneys, Certified Public Accountants, Chartered Financial Analyst, and others.) This designation, however, doesn’t actually impact an advisors ability to sell various products but is a professional credential only. In other words, being a CPA is required in order to engage in certain aspects of accounting, whereas a CFP designation doesn’t allow advisors the ability to do any more or less for their clients, but rather just signifies the meeting of certain standards.
- Become a Chartered Financial Analyst. Becoming a CFA requires mastery of a complicated curriculum and passing three six-hour exams, as well as having a bachelor’s degree and four years of work experience. Some universities provide CFA preparation course, but for most people the preparation is based entirely on self-study; you’ll receive the curriculum when you register for the exam.
- Become a Registered Investment Advisor. An investment advisor is anyone who receives compensation for providing financial advice. If you manage a portfolio with assets totaling less than $100 million, you’ll register with your state securities agency; if your portfolio is over $100 million, you’ll register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. RIAs must pass the Series 66 exam, as well as the Series 6 or 7 exam. Alternatively, they may also just pass the series 65 exam.
- Follow up with continuing education. Some licenses require you to take continuing education examinations every few years, or pay re-licensing fees.
2. Get a bachelor’s degree.
The vast majority of financial advisors have college degrees – and if you want a professional certification such as a CFP or CFA, having a four-year degree is a requirement for licensing. Your major doesn’t matter as much as demonstrating your willingness to stick with a program and meet deadlines, though degrees in finance, accounting, economics, mathematics and computer science can look good on a financial advisor’s resume.
3. Gain some work experience.
Look for an internship that can help you get a feel for the business, or take an entry-level job with a bank or brokerage. Gather as much information as you can about what the job entails and the various career paths financial advisors can take.
4. Look for a training program.
Some large investment companies offer complete training programs for financial advisors, during which they’ll help you accumulate the necessary work experience and prepare you for licensing exams. Such programs are competitive, but worth the work if you can get into them. Remember, the company expects to teach you the rules and regulations, but they can’t force you to care about the job. To get your foot in the door, demonstrate that you’re passionate about being a top-notch financial adviser.
5. Get licensed.
Having a professional license is required to engage in the business. Anyone who claims to be a financial advisor but isn’t a registered representative with FINRA and/or a Registered Investment Advisor isn’t able to truly help clients with investing. Which license(s) you need will depend on how you choose to build your financial advising career.
6. Be prepared to work hard.
Though the rewards of being a financial advisor can be great, the hours can also be long. Particularly when you’re beginning your career, be ready to work demanding shifts. Build your business by showing your clients or your employer that you’re willing to do extra work for incredible results.