How to become a Financial Advisor

This article provides in-depth information into What is a Financial Advisor? What Financial Advisors do? Degrees for Financial Advisors, Steps to become Financial Advisor and much more.

A financial advisor is an individual who primarily provides financial advice to potential clients, in order to formulate and determine an efficient and functional investment portfolio whilst simultaneously taking into consideration the state of the economy, regulatory changes, economic trends as well as the level of risk the client is willing and able to take. Financial advisors are responsible for the comprehensive and thorough assessment of their client’s needs and wants. They are inherently responsible for helping their clients make major and even minor financial decisions. They aid potential clients with investment opportunities and insurance and tax decisions such as (such as stocks and bonds).

They are integral with respect to helping clients achieve long and short term goals such as retirement funds and education expenses and so on.  They recommend investments to match the clients' goals. They invest clients' money based on the clients' decisions. Many also provide tax advice or sell insurance.

What does Financial Advisor do ?

Their duties mainly involve meeting with clients to discuss their potential financial goals and end games, explain the types of financial services they would provide, recommend clients to certain investment opportunities and answer any pressing questions they could possibly have. Monitor clients' accounts and determine if changes are needed to improve account performance or accommodate life changes, such as getting married or having children.

As with any career financial advisors can specialize in certain fields like the evaluation of risk and further risk management and even corresponding investment opportunities. They also evaluate how willing customers are to risk and to what degree they would be open to risk. The closely monitor the client’s investments and meet with the clients at least once a year to discuss potential returns from their investments and any changes that would have to be made in order to accommodate any changes in their financial stability.

Many financial advisors are authorized to directly buy and sell financial products, such as stocks, bonds, annuities, and insurance. Depending on the agreement they have with their clients, advisors may have the clients' permission to make decisions about buying and selling stocks and bonds.

Steps for becoming Financial Advisor


Confirmation Of Being A Financial Advisor

The first step to becoming a financial advisor is to take time to confirm that being a financial advisor is what you actually desire. A financial advisor is a rather strenuous career as it involves a lot of responsibility in the sense that you are made to handle another individual’s bank account and their financial stability. Before one pursues the credentials required to become a certified financial advisor one mus reaffirm the fact he wishes to be a financial advisor.


Get A Bachelors Degree

In order to be considered eligible to pursue a bachelor's degree, one must have completed received a high school diploma or GED and further pursued an associate's degree in order to further pursue a bachelor's degree.  A bachelor's program usually lasts for 4 years and it would be prudent and most useful to major in subjects and courses like accounting, economics and business studies in order to efficiently pursue the career of a financial advisor. 


Obtain A Certification

In order to receive a certificate that legally enables you to pursue being a financial advisor, one must pass a certification exam depending on the state you wish to practice in. furthermore, the certification process is of various types as there are various certificates one can get. for example, a certified financial analyst must pursue certification in his/her respective field. Once you know the path you want to follow, you'll know which certifications or licenses you will need.


Complete An Internship

An internship is valuable in providing aspiring financial advisors with real-life experience and instruction outside the textbook and classroom. These internships are usually unpaid and provide an aspiring financial advisor with extensive and comprehensive experience regarding their particular field, some internships are considered mandatory and are counted toward class credit.


Pursue Higher Education

The possession of a master's degree could open many more avenues of employment that would additionally pay a lot more and provide lucrative benefits. The accomplishment of masters or a Ph.D. in accounting, economics or even in business studies would effectively eliminate the need for any kind of certification or licensing.

Many licenses and certifications have requirements for continuing education that must be met to maintain good standing. There is also a renewal fee that must be paid every year.

Financial Advisor Degree Levels


An associate's degree program usually lasts for around 2 years and it consists of an introductory course to finance and also simultaneously allows an individual to freely pursue a bachelor's degree. The only prerequisite for pursuing an associate's degree is having a high school diploma and/or a GED. In addition to introductory courses in finance, students also explore foundational business topics and complete general education in areas such as English composition, math, humanities, and social and behavioral sciences. The following courses are most helpful in an individuals pursuit of a financial advisors career:

-principals of finance

-money, banking, and financial management


-key financial concepts


A bachelor's degree provides a more extensive and comprehensive understanding of the world of finance along with the ability and skill to comprehend the dynamics of the stock market along with local and international economies. The accomplishment of a bachelor's degree would allow one to become a financial analyst and even a personal financial advisor. It also allows one to pursue his/her master’s degree. The following courses are most prudent for an aspiring financial advisor:

-survey of finance

-principles of finance

-computer modeling of financial applications.


The master’s degree is most useful for financial advisors who wish to pursue a leadership or management role in a company, this would include undertaking certain high-grade administrative responsibilities that would usually be covered in the curriculum of a master's degree of a financial advisor. A master’s degree may be offered as a Master of Science in Finance (MSF) or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in finance. the following courses are best for aspiring financial advisors:

-derivatives and risk management

-Financial math programing 

-qualitative financing 


A doctoral degree may be offered as either a Ph.D. in Finance or as a Ph.D. in Business Administration with a concentration in finance. The doctorate degree is ideal for those who want to work in an academic setting or assume a financial leadership position at a large organization. The doctorate is integral for those who wish to secure a leadership position or even a management position in an administrative framework of a company. A doctorate also aids in securing teaching and research jobs.


Salaries for financial advisors vary with experience. The trainee stage for most financial advisers lasts up to three years. Eventually, brokerage firms tend to stop paying advisers a base salary. An entry-level financial advisor earns 17% below average, a mid-career financial advisor earns 27% above average, and a late-career financial advisor earns 105% above average. According to the US Bureau of labor statistics,  the financial advisor salary as of May 2018, is $88,890. States like New York, D.C., and Wyoming offer some of the highest wages in the country for financial advisors, and those in the top 10% could make over $200,000.

The most common industry for financial advisors is the world of investing (securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities).

Job growth

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the field will grow by 27% through 2022—nearly double the 14 percent growth rate projected for U.S. occupations on average. Employment of personal financial advisors is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than 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. In addition, the replacement of traditional pension plans with individual retirement accounts is expected to continue.

Schools and universities for Financial Advisor

The demand for financial advisors has been steadily increasing and as a result, there are a number of schools and universities that cater to the development of potential candidates as aspiring financial advisors. These schools and universities have extensive courses relating to subjects that are academically relevant in the field of financial advisors such as, economics, accounting, and even business studies. The following schools and/or colleges are specifically helpful for any aspiring financial advisors:

-American college of financial services

-Baylor university

-Boston university

-California Lutheran university 

-California state university

-Clemson university

-college for financial planning 

Concentrations to consider

Financial planner

Becoming a Certified Financial Planner requires at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited university, as well as college coursework from a program that is registered with the CFP Board. You'll also need at least 6,000 hours of professional financial planning experience. A financial planner is an individual who takes meticulous inventory of a client's financial assets and extrapolates ways to use them to gain the utmost profit and ultimately financial security.

Financial specialist

A Personal Financial Specialist is a type of Certified Public Accountant, itself a type of financial advisor. A financial specialist is primarily responsible for selling services and products at a financial institution and meeting with customers to understand their needs

Fund specialist

A Certified Fund Specialist (CFS) is a certification for financial advisors who have thrived in the world of mutual funds. A CFS is certified by the Institute of Business & Finance (IBF), and according to FINRA, you need either a bachelor's degree. Once enrolled, you have one year to complete the course at your own pace.

Preparing yourself for a career as a financial analyst :

  • High school: in order to start preparing yourself for a career as a financial analyst one must take relevant subjects in high schools such as an introductory course in accounting, economics, and even business studies. Furthermore, a high school diploma or GED must be earned in order to further pursue the credentials required for a competent financial advisor. 

  • Degrees: in order to further achieve all the necessary credentials for a competent financial advisor one must possess at the very least an associate's degree, and even a master's degree. An associate's degree can be earned with the simple prerequisite of a high school diploma. A bachelor's degree would provide a piece of more in-depth knowledge regarding the role of a financial advisor and comprehensive instruction outside the walls of a classroom. 

Stand out skills

Communications and Interpersonal Skills: A financial advisor needs to solicit new businesses, network with associates, and maintain his or her relationship with clients. Therefore, the ability to relate to people and find common grounds is crucial. This includes basic skills for networking, such as telephone and email etiquette. 

Ability to Handle Stress: Like most careers, stress at work is inevitable. A Financial advisor undertakes his or her clients’ financial portfolio and assists them in decisions that will have a major impact on their lives. 

Energy and Persistence: This key skill could be said for almost any profession. But for a Financial advisor, it serves not only in the area of prospecting and serving clients, but it also becomes extremely valuable when keeping tab of the investment market, staying on top of the latest news, and riding upward trends.

Analytical Skills for Problem Solving: Each client’s financial portfolio is unique and requires different approaches. A financial advisor has to be able to exercise patience in the face of pressure and with little emotional attachments. He or she must possess strong problem solving and mathematical skills to help his or her client make prudent financial decisions.

Passion: Another essential ingredient in businesses is the enthusiasm for the job. The challenge is in finding that perfect fit. For a Financial Advisor, it’s that keen interest in making a profound impact on the lives of others, by helping them to grow their wealth and secure an otherwise uncertain future 

Organizational Skills and Attention to Details: The last and most important skill is extremely crucial in the career of a financial advisor. Organizational skills can be applied to good time management. Not only does it help to grow a Financial advisor’s clientele, but it also helps in growing his or her income too.