Equipped with a deep knowledge of money management strategy, budgeting, and investment, financial advisors assist a variety of companies and individuals with their decision-making processes. Rather than one distinct set of duties, financial advisors face a variety of tasks and responsibilities based on whether they are members of corporate departments, self-employed independent contractors, or employees of advisory firms.
The common thread connecting the many varieties of financial advisor is that these positions provide an ideal setting for individuals with an advanced education in monetary matters to apply their experience in practical and rewarding ways. A career as a financial planner could prove to be a promising path for graduates with a Master of Science in Finance degree, for example.
Defining the Financial Advisor Role
An individual working as a financial advisor can provide a variety of services for clients, including creating financial strategies, providing insights on markets and investment possibilities, monitoring current accounts, and making investment recommendations. Some advisors also sell insurance or give advice on tax matters. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed out that it’s usual to find advisors who specialize in certain aspects of personal finance, such as risk management or retirement planning.
Financial advisors must be able to provide analytical information on the relative risks and rewards of major financial decisions such as investments. Furthermore, these professionals have to be skilled communicators with strong interpersonal abilities. As the BLS indicated, a great deal of financial advisory work consists of providing a reassuring, mutually trusting environment to clients.
While people are not strictly required to have certification to advertise their advisory services, many of the more advanced duties tied to the field are governed by regulatory bodies. For example, there are licenses required for individuals who sell stocks, bonds, or insurance. The BLS added that even giving specific investment advice is a licensed process.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification, issued by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, is a general kind of credential for financial planners. The certificate indicates that a professional has at least three years of work experience in the field, has passed the CFP exams, and adheres to the organization’s code of ethics. Hiring managers may prioritize candidates with such credentials.
Reviewing Hiring and Salary Trends for Financial Advisors
Money management is a hot profession in terms of job creation and salary. According to the BLS, positions for these professionals will increase at a rate of 15% between 2016 and 2026. Compared to the growth rate of 7% for all occupations over the same period, it’s clear that the need for skilled financial strategists is strong.
A number of factors are contributing to the massive increase in financial advisor hiring. The prime motivators behind the change are the expanding population and rising life expectancy across the country. More people living longer need people to help them handle their money effectively and point them in the direction of smart investments. At large corporate firms and small businesses alike, the number of financial advisors will likely increase drastically to reflect the new demographics.
The BLS also noted that financial advisors are well compensated for their work. The median salary for a personal advisor is $88,890, according to the agency. Figures in this area are much greater for individuals who work with securities, commodities, and other types of trading. Professionals who provide advice on the management of companies earn the second-most in average annual pay, followed by those who deal with credit and individuals in the insurance specialty.
Becoming a Financial Advisor and Succeeding in This Role
Due to the increasing demand for financial advisors, many ambitious professionals are likely considering this career path. To stand out in this field, applicants will have to bring a strong combination of knowledge, experience, and soft skills. PayScale noted that working in finance today means possessing computing skills, with each company having its own systems for professionals to learn. In addition to this tech familiarity, advisors must be knowledgeable about the laws that govern their clients’ finances at the state, federal, and local levels.
In addition to grasping the general laws around financial transactions, advisors aiming to deal with market matters must also comprehend Securities and Exchange Commission guidelines. PayScale explained that financial advisors may need to complete Series 6 and Series 7 tests and added that since regulations change frequently, professionals entering the world of finance must stay current with the latest revisions and updates.
The BLS noted that it is sometimes possible to take on a financial advisor role with a bachelor’s degree. However, seeking a more advanced credential may help candidates advance beyond entry-level positions. Managers determining which individuals to hire or promote in competitive professional settings may select those who have at least a master’s-level education or an industry certification such as CFP credentials.
There are several paths successful financial professionals can follow after making their mark as advisors. For instance, individuals working with larger companies can move into leadership roles within the financial department, from senior financial analyst to managers, controllers, or directors. Other advisors may seek positions as planners, consultants, or investment advisors. Due to the commonalties between financial advisory and banking, professionals may also find a rewarding next step by moving into a leadership role with a bank.
Earning a Master of Science in Finance Degree
Professionals who want to improve their knowledge and deepen their resumes with a master’s level education in finance can study for an advanced degree entirely online while continuing to work in their full-time jobs. The coursework in financial degree programs can deliver up-to-date insights that can help professionals not only stand out during the job search but also excel once they take on financial advisory roles.
The Online Master of Science in Finance program at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business, for example, includes courses such as Investment Banking, Financial Risk Management, Investment Analysis, and Analysis of Financial Intuitions and Markets. Taught by experienced faculty members with deep connections in the professional world, these subjects provide the kind of wide-ranging financial knowledge that may help graduates provide top-quality money management services to clients.
Learn more about the Online MSF program and determine if it can help you make your next financial career move.