The Career Guide for Becoming a Financial Advisor

Whether they’re offering insight on smart investment decisions or retirement planning, financial advisors’ chief charge is to help their clients make the most of their money. Just as it sounds, a financial advisor is an individual who gives professional financial advice to their respective clients. It’s an excellent field for those with a dual interest in numbers and helping others. This is a saturated, yet always-growing industry with a reported 330,300 financial advisors in the United States alone. Keep reading to gain insight into how you too can start your journey down the financial advisor career path.

What Is a Financial Advisor?

To reiterate, a financial advisor is an individual responsible for managing a client’s finances in a more broad sense. With their degree, they’re able to help individuals and businesses with tax planning, insurance planning, and more.

There are a variety of financial advisor types:

  • Asset manager: An asset manager is responsible for helping clients manage their assets, portfolios, and investments;
  • Broker-dealer and broker: An individual or company that buys, sells, and trades security on their client’s behalf;
  • Certified financial planner (CFP): CFPs have more one-on-one training in developing tailored financial strategies for clients;
  • Financial coach: Financial coaches help clients understand the basics of financial literacy;
  • Wealth advisor: Wealth advisors typically work with clients who need, or will need, guidance managing their wealth.

Be sure to learn about the duties of each type before choosing a degree to ensure it’s truly the path you want to take.

Financial Advisor vs. Financial Planner

While they seem similar, financial advisors and financial planners differ in a few key ways. Financial advisors conduct a variety of financial services for clients like money management or insurance help. On the other hand, financial planners focus more on providing clients with a tailored strategy to get them back on track to meeting their financial goals.

What Are the Key Duties of a Financial Advisor?

You must first ensure the duties asked of you are achievable before diving into becoming a financial advisor. A few tasks commonly asked of financial advisors include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Talking with clients about their financial needs;
  • Educating clients on financial independence;
  • Showing clients how to use various financial tools like banking apps and more;
  • Securing stocks and bonds;
  • Curating various financial documents like income reports and more.

It’s worth noting that you may endure other tasks, like debt consolidation, depending on your client’s personal financial needs.

What Are the Skills Needed To Become a Financial Advisor?

Financial advisors should possess a certain set of skills to be successful in their careers, which they can build in several ways. Future advisors will want to ensure to hone in on these skills in the process of earning their bachelor’s in finance in finance or accounting or pursuing a further degree, like an MBA, with a concentration in finance. Current advisors should consider enrolling in continuing education courses to sharpen up the necessary skills they already have.

Here are a few of the essential qualities all financial advisors should have:

  • Analytical thinking;
  • Building and maintaining client relationships;
  • Business development skills;
  • Extensive knowledge of stocks and trades;
  • Interpersonal skills;
  • Mathematics;
  • Risk assessment, management, and prevention;
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication;
  • Wealth management.

Because math can be complex for many people, a thorough understanding and ability to break down numbers can help clients better comprehend seemingly convoluted financial strategies. In this way, mathematics skills and interpersonal skills go hand in hand.

How To Become a Financial Advisor

Every financial advisor must earn at least a bachelor’s degree, whether it be in finance, accounting, or business. Those seeking higher credentials will want to obtain a master’s degree in finance or similar. Courses featured in any of these degree programs will also help you develop the skills you need to succeed in this career. These courses include but aren’t limited to, tax planning and investment strategy.

There are no set certifications or licenses that every financial advisor must have. However, some financial advisors may be instructed by a future investing firm or client to obtain a specific certification or license.

A few of the top certifications for financial advisors include:

  • Certified public accountant (CPA);
  • Chartered financial analyst (CFA);
  • Registered investment advisor (RIA);
  • Investment advisor representative (IAR);
  • Certified financial fiduciary (CFF);
  • Retirement income certified professional (RICP);
  • Certified private wealth investor (CPWA).

Take a moment to research each certification to see if it’s one you should consider adding to your repertoire of skills needed for your future career in financial advising.

How Much Do Financial Advisors Make?

Even without an MBA degree, a career as a financial advisor can be highly rewarding in terms of overall cash compensation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2022, financial advisors make an average annual wage of $137,740. Individuals with a Master’s degree in business or finance may expect higher pay to acknowledge their higher skillset.

A career in financial planning, financial advising, or financial analysis can be rewarding from both an economic and professional perspective. There’s a great degree of satisfaction that comes from helping clients maximize their money so it works hard for them. Confidence in one’s financial well-being is priceless and is something that financial advisors can feel proud about.

Don’t get discouraged if a career as a financial advisor doesn’t sound right for you. From financial accounting to managerial accounting to data analytics to human resources to operations management, there are several other careers in finance that may be right for you.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Personal Financial Advisors”

Nerd Wallet, “Types of Financial Advisors” 

Forbes, “Top Financial Certifications”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics: Financial Advisor”