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Become Financial Advisor - How to Become a Financial Advisor

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The financial advising industry is one of the most popular industries to break into. While the path to get there is fairly well-defined, it is not going to be easy. To become a financial advisor you will need to gain experience in the field, educate yourself, and decide which type of financial advisor you want to be. Becoming a financial advisor can be both rewarding and demanding.

1. Get a job. You might think it’s odd to be told that your first step to becoming a financial advisor is to get a job, but it’s important that you gain experience in the field. Whether you’re answering phones for a financial advisor or working as a bank teller, you will gain useful experience in the field. Later on this work experience will be helpful to you when you seek certifications. Additionally, many employers in the financial industry offer education benefits and support to their employees, meaning you could get paid to get your degree.

2. Get a degree. If you don’t have one already, a BA will be very helpful. Helpful majors include business administration, accounting, marketing, mathematics, and other similar subjects. There are a few colleges that even offer majors in finance and financial planning. If you went straight to college after high school, you may have completed this step already. If this is the case and your major was not related to business or financial advising, do not worry. Some experience in the field, even at an entry-level position, is often more important than your undergraduate degree major. Do be sure to spend some extra time learning the core subjects of business and financial advising, and consider whether a graduate degree in business or financial advising would be helpful for you.

3. Research the different types of financial advisors. There are multiple different types of financial advisors. Some work for companies offering financial products such as banking and insurance. Often these financial advisors act as salespeople and get paid a commission. Others work for firms in the same way an accountant might, advising individuals on products for a fee, and sometimes earning a commission for product referrals. Recently it’s become more popular for financial advisors to work independently and on a fee-based model, taking in no commissions and refusing to act as salespeople. Regardless of which direction you would like to go in, you should be aware that you will be responsible for finding your own clients.

4. Research certifications. There are a myriad of certifications available in this field for you to choose from. Each is designed for a specific purpose related to the functions of being a financial advisor. You should choose which certifications you want to pursue based on your qualifications and goals, and be aware that some certifications require experience in the industry and a sponsor, while others require a graduate degree. Some of certifications you should be aware of include Certified Financial Planner™, Certified Financial Analyst™, Chartered Financial Consultant, and Registered Investment Advisor.

5. Make a plan and execute it. Based on the type of financial advisor you want to be, and the certifications you think you need to achieve that goal, plan on completing the exams and educational requirements necessary. If you go into business for yourself, plan on taking a course or researching what it takes to start your own business. This process can take anywhere from a couple of months to a few years, depending on which route you decide to pursue.

Ultimately what it will take for you to become a financial advisor is patience and persistance. Remember that every roadblock you run into is an opportunity for you to learn and grow in your profession.

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