How To Be A Financial Advisor

Not everyone has the technique, expertise or charisma to be a financial advisor, but people who want a new start in a new career, and who have some business, financial or sales acumen, are often very successful at it, no matter their age or level of education. If a fledgling advisor has ever done any planning of his own saving for college, day-care, a car, the down payment on a house, medical care for other she or she has at least some degree of life experience in the field of financial planning.  Anyone who has faced multiple challenges in the financial or business arena, has had financial setbacks that required careful planning to escape or has simply advised a friend in the right direction, will have a leg up, as it were, on learning to be a financial advisor.

Its also beneficial if one is centered in a personal and/or professional network that one can tap into or at least be comfortable with which is why financial consultation as a career is so attractive to former business owners, teachers with extensive connections among their colleagues, and newly minted graduates with a large group of peers behind them.   If one has worked in a business with deadlines and the last-minute stresses that come with regular business transactions and closings, thats all to the good also.  Degree in psychology? Thats worth pure gold in the field of financial planning, since counseling is as much about managing financial dysfunction as it is financial success. 

Approximately 88 percent of the financial advisers polled by the FPA (Financial Planning Association) in 2009 said they came to financial advising from another profession.   And that may cause a bit of confusion, since the terms financial advisor and financial planner are pretty much interchangeable; however, one particular road that leads to more expertise and greater immediate credibility is the course of study for Certified Financial Planner.

To advance to the stage of Certified Financial Planner, one must complete a recognized course of study (offered by banks, financial institutions and some institutions of higher learning), get through a massive (two day) exam and have at least three years of internship or similar work experience in the financial field.   The immediate reward is more recognition as a certified professional and more job opportunities, although its worth noting that a number of financial institutions, such as Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo, do not require the CFP for employment as a financial planner/advisor. 

The aforementioned Wells Fargo brokerage, for example, offers a 31 week trainee program to assist a fledgling advisor in getting the licensure to allow them to begin selling immediately (in the areas of annuities and mutual funds).   A trainee can earn up to $8K a month, and, as the new adviser builds his/her client base, the salary can rise rapidly (top advisors can make between $300K and $350K a year). 

One can even study the coursework by night, holding onto a day job and applying for work at a smaller firm after training is completed; even at the lowest level, the fledgling trainee can earn up to $30K a year.   This can advance to as much as $100K a year for the top rated advisors who operate independently or in smaller firms. 

And, as noted, the trainee with the most experience and expertise in managing financial dysfunction successfully, whether his own or someone else's, stands a better chance of being an empathic, strongly motivating and successful advisor.  As most financial institutions will attest, it is not what one knows but what one can present, and the key word in the job title is advisor, implying that the individual not only knows how to be a financial advisor, but also a trusted confidant and friend to his clients.

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