Salary & Wages
In 2008, personal financial advisors earned an average of $69,050. The middle 50 percent earned $46,390 to $119,290. Financial analysts earned an average of $73,150 in 2008, not counting bonuses. The middle 50 percent earned $54,930 to $99,100, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $141,070. Almost a third of personal financial advisors are self-employed. Unfortunately, as with all small businesses, half of personal advisor businesses fail within the first year.
What is a Personal Financial Advisor or Financial Analyst?
Personal financial advisors and financial analysts gather monetary information, analyze it, and make recommendations to businesses and individuals about investments.
Generally, financial analysts work for businesses, such as investment banks, insurance companies, mutual and pension funds, and securities firms. They are also known as securities analysts or investment analysts. Many work within a regional, industrial or financial specialty.
Personal financial advisors work with individuals. They use their knowledge of investments, tax laws, and insurance to help clients with retirement and estate planning, investing and college funding. Many advisors sell life insurance and securities as a major part of their income.
Excellent opportunity exists for financial advisors in the banking industry. Deregulation of the financial services now allows banks to expand into the securities industry. This opens up new opportunities for advisors.
Education & Degree Path
A bachelor’s degree in business is expected for most financial jobs. Many personal financial advisors and financial analysts also hold master’s degrees in business or MBAs with majors in finance or accounting. Good bachelor's degree majors include finance, banking and accounting.
Licensing: Nearly all personal financial advisors—and some financial analysts, depending on their specialty—hold a license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). If you want to become a personal financial advisor, you’ll need to obtain Series 7 and Series 63 or 66 licenses. Doing so will enable you to act as a representative of a securities firm and give financial advice. A Certified Financial Planner designation is not required, but after three years of experience you can test for it. To become a financial analyst, you will need to be licensed. However, that is done after you’re employed. When you have four years of experience, you can increase your stature and salary by taking the test to become a Certified Financial Analyst (CFA). Your employer sponsors you to sit for this exam.
Entering the Field: If you have strong math, problem-solving and analytical skills, you may do well in this field. Start by studying business, finance, computers, marketing, and communications. Good entry jobs include working as a bank clerk, selling insurance, or working as bookkeeper. All these jobs can usually be entered with a certificate or associate degree in business or management.
Because the competition for these jobs is high, you’ll want to earn your bachelor’s degree in business. Eventually, to be eligible for the best jobs and pay grade, you will want to earn your master’s in business administration or finance. If you already hold a bachelor’s degree, but the degree is in a major area other than business, consider earning a master’s in business administration to prep for this new career area.
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