Online MBA Career Spotlight: Financial Advisors

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Financial advisors help their clients meet long- and short-term financial goals by providing advice about insurance, investments, college savings, mortgages, taxes, estate planning, and retirement. They also design and implement financial plans to fit their clients’ individual needs and financial situations.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s online MBA program with a concentration in finance allows prospective financial advisors to obtain their MBA degree 100 percent online. An MBA degree can provide the critical thinking, analytical, and financial reasoning skills needed to succeed as a financial advisor.

Couple seeking Financial Advisor.

Financial Manager vs. Financial Advisor

Financial managers are similar to financial advisors. They provide the same services, but to organizations rather than individuals. Financial managers produce financial reports, direct investment activities, and develop strategies and plans for the long-term financial goals of their organization.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), financial advisors mostly work in the finance and insurance industry, and roughly one fifth of them are self-employed. The rest work for insurance companies and other related businesses.

Qualifications of a Financial Advisor

Financial advisors typically need a bachelor’s degree in a relevant major. Finance is preferable, but economics and accounting are also acceptable. Candidates who have MBA degrees are more likely to reach management positions sooner.

After fulfilling their academic requirements, prospective financial advisors must register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or with their state, and acquire the proper licenses to manage their clients’ investments and sell stocks, bonds, and insurance policies.

In addition to licensure, financial advisors can take the Certified Financial Board of Standards exam to earn the Certified Financial Planner credential. To take the exam, they should have a bachelor’s degree and at least three years of experience in financial planning.

Skills of an Ideal Financial Advisor

Aside from the academic and legal prerequisites, financial advisors should also have certain personality traits and skills. These include:

Active listening: Financial advisors should be able to clearly understand their clients’ financial goals and concerns to provide quality advice.
Critical thinking: To help clients reach their long- and short-term financial goals, financial advisors must be able to effectively evaluate all available data and variables, as well as possess an adequate understanding of documents that describe various financial instruments.
Clear communication: Financial advisors must be able to clearly and concisely explain the financial services that they can provide, both to current and prospective clients.
Service-oriented nature: A desire to help people plan for the future and see them succeed is essential to the job for financial advisors.

Duties of a Financial Advisor

According to the finance website The Balance, job responsibilities for financial advisors usually include:

• Recommending investment services and products that are most applicable for clients and prospects based on their resources, objectives, risk profile, time horizon, and preferences.
• Executing and negotiating follow-through of implementation vehicles including investments, insurance, debt management, tax planning, estate planning, and other tasks quoted to clients.
• Crafting their practices by choosing which markets and clients to pursue.
• Canvassing clients actively via email, telephone, and referrals.
• Maintaining proper documentation following preset guidelines established by compliance and management.
• Ensuring their practices comply with all industry rules and regulations.

Employer Expectations

Being a financial advisor requires numerous practical skills and qualities, in addition to financial knowledge.

Successful financial advisors should manage their time efficiently, as well as effectively prioritize both their own goals and objectives and those of their clients.

The best advisors know the products and services that they offer inside and out. They should also know all of the rules and regulations pertaining to their services.
Financial advisors are expected to be able to ask for appointments, qualify for opportunities, and close a deal within two or three phone calls. They should be business savvy, but never pushy.

Financial advisors whose clients frequently refer them to others are those who possess a strong work ethic and a commitment to honesty and professionalism. The most effective advisors work well both alone and as part of a team.

Salary Range

The BLS reports that the median annual salary for financial advisors in May 2016 was $90,530, averaging an hourly rate of $43.53. The median annual salary for financial managers was $121,750, averaging a rate of $58.54 per hour.

Job Outlook And Growth

The future looks very promising for aspiring financial advisors. According to the BLS, more than 249,000 people were employed as financial advisors in 2014. By the year 2024, employment of personal financial advisors is projected to grow by about 30 percent, a considerably faster rate than the average for most occupations. As the population ages and life expectancy continues to rise, the demand for financial planning services is expected to increase.

About the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s online MBA Degree Program

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s MBA program allows students to complete their coursework 100 percent online. In addition to the finance concentration, courses include Management and Organizations, Economics for Managers, Strategic Cost Analysis and Decision Making, and Marketing Strategy. Ninety percent of the Collat School of Business faculty holds professional or academic doctorates. For more information, visit the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s online MBA program website.

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