The Get-Started-Now Guide to Become A Financial Advisor

Are you interested to become a financial advisor? Here is a complete resource to get you started...

You will get a complete overview of - how to become a financial advisor, the educational requirements, salary packages, training, certification, how to become independent financial advisor, job description, career path, how to study, CFP and what does a financial advisor do.

Who Is a Financial Advisor (FA)?

The purpose of a financial advisor is to ‘advice’ clients to handle their money better, that is, to channelize money for higher returns and monetary growth. These channels could be retirement planning, insurance options, and various investment strategies.

A financial advisor needs to possess an excellent understanding of stock market performances, insurance sector, banking, and other related fields.

As a finance advisor, you can either work with a company or become a private consultant. In either case, a bachelor’s degree in any finance field and relevant certification is mandatory.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is an 8% projected job growth for FAs between 2018 and 2028 with an average salary of 88,890 USD.

How to Become a Financial Advisor

The first step is to complete a Bachelor’s Degree program in business administration or in specialized fields like financial management and accounting.

Joining a business administration program will cover subjects like operations management, marketing, finance, and accounting.

Joining a finance-focused program will cover specific subjects like investments, financial planning, and risk management.

While pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree, take advantage of support resources made available to students through the university.

These resources include job assistance, resume writing guidance, writing cover letters and getting interview leads. Sometimes universities recommend their own students based on performance.

Moreover, if you intend to become a self-employed financial planner, develop marketing skills too while you are studying because it will be your responsibility to connect with clients by marketing your own financial advising services in workshops, seminars and networking avenues.

Begin to form a marketing strategy in the early stages of studying. It will benefit you a lot once you complete the course.

Depending on the state and country of residence, you are required to get a certification and licenses.

The licensing requirement varies based on the kind of asset an advisor is willing to handle. For instance, if you want to sell securities like corporate bonds, you need to pass the Series 7 licensing exam by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

If you are in the US, you need to be registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which will enable anyone seeking your service to verify license and education before conducting business with you.

The Bachelor's degree and the license are enough to begin work as an FA. Experience isn’t required in entry-level positions but you need further Certifications for a future career.

Whether you want to be self-employed later or work in better financial companies, consider obtaining certification. There is a voluntary certification exam for FAs conducted by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

If you have three years of working experience and completed a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, you can take this exam. It will test you on various subject expertise.

After completing the exam, an ethics review is conducted upon whose successful completion; the designation of Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is given to the student.

To maintain CFP status, you have to complete 30 units of continued education and submit all annual dues. The continued education assesses knowledge of financial planning and improves professional conduct.

To further improve the FA work profile, consider taking an advanced degree such as an MBA or Masters in Finance. It will help to move towards higher managerial positions as some employers prefer to hire advisors with advanced degrees.

Salary

The salary of a financial advisor depends on certification and experience.

An FA in India earns an average salary of Rs. 361,095 per year and advisors usually don’t have more than 10 years of experience.

Years in experience are a strong influencer to getting an attractive salary package.

Including bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions, a financial advisor earns between Rs. 195,000 and Rs. 10,00000 annually, according to PayScale.com.

Financial Advisor Salary India

Total PayIn the US, 55,451 USD is the annual average salary for FAs in 2020.

The minimum amount is 30,000 USD with the highest paid financial advisors earning more than 101,000 USD. Apart from salaries, many of the advisors earn bonuses and commissions.

Financial Advsior Salary in the US

In the UK, 43,069 GBP is the annual average salary for FAs in 2020.

The minimum amount is 18,000 GBP with the highest paid financial advisors earning more than 71,000 GBP. Apart from salaries, many of the advisors earn bonuses and commissions.

How to Become a Financial Advsior

All these data show that becoming an FA is a profitable profession.

Switching Career to Become a Financial Advisor(FA)

A lot of people switch to become an FA in their mid-career.

It is a great profession for someone who wants to help people manage their money better. Again, you can set up an individual consultancy or join an organization; the choice is yours.

A poll conducted by Financial Planning Association (FPA) found that 88% of current investment advisors work in different professions first and then switch to becoming an FA. An FA is often also known as a “financial planner”.

It is not easy to make the career switch because you need extra educational qualifications. You need to have Certified Financial Planner certification, for which a mandatory three years of working in a financial planning business is mandatory.

Big financial firms like Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo Advisors prefer to hire a certified CFP professional.  New FAs at Wells Fargo Advisors go through a 31-week program to help them get necessary licenses like Series 66 which enables them to sell annuities and mutual funds.

Sometimes a degree in psychology is helpful because

“this business is much as financial counseling as it is financial advising. There are more emotional dysfunctions around money in people’s lives than around any other issue. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, the dysfunctions are still there”

says Richard Salmen, the Board Member of CFP Board.

In short, if you are switching to an FA profile mid-career, you need to possess mandatory certifications and qualifications.

Job Description

There are two types of advice:

  • Independent advice
  • Restricted advice

Independent advice comes from independent financial advisors (IFA’s) who provide unrestricted and unbiased advice to clients after researching and analyzing retail investment products.

On the other hand, restricted advice comes from these professionals who are restricted to offer advice only on limited products and investments.

It happens when you are hired by a specific financial organization and obviously, they won’t want you to recommend financial products from other organizations.

It is the duty of the investment advisor to inform the client of the capacity of their advice, that is, whether it is independent or restricted.

The role of an FA differs on many levels and some of them are mentioned below.

  • contact, network and build a client base
  • keep track of current client and keep them up-to-date with the latest developments
  • keep in touch with all clients regularly to enquire about their financial growth
  • form debt liquidation plans in relation to priority timelines
  • understand the responsibilities of an investment advisor
  • explain documentation to clients
  • explain the availability of financial assistance to various groups of people like students, through scholarships and grants
  • assist the client in the gathering of information like income tax records, insurance records, bank account records, wills, and pension plans
  • keep track of financial market trends and update client portfolio accordingly
  • develop and implement financial growth plans for clients
  • talk to clients to assess their current incomes, insurance coverage, financial objectives, risk tolerance, real estate planning, and other expenses
  • prepare finance growth projections for clients like performance reports and financial documents, and explain them to clients
  • recommend strategies and way to clients for achieving financial goals and objectives in areas like investment planning and insurance coverage
  • assess current investment opportunities and find whether the current options are suitable for client goals
  • assess financial information of clients to develop plans for meeting client objectives
  • explain financial strategies and plans to clients
  • regularly review client accounts and record changes
  • determine whether the client plan needs reassessment and rearrangement
  • sell financial products to clients like mutual funds, bonds and stocks, that is, follow a sales target
  • conduct workshops and seminars for clients with the purpose to inform them better about their financial goals and objectives
  • get in touch with client creditors to adjust payments, if necessary
  • determine the financial needs of clients and solicit ways to fulfill the needs
  • meet with trust officers, investment bankers, attorneys and other advisors of the client to get a complete picture of clients’ financial situation
  • create and disburse funds from client accounts to creditors
  • participate in the process of selecting financial aid winners
  • performing risk analysis and defining strategies to mitigate them
  • assisting clients to understand and make informed decisions
  • remaining abreast of financial legislations and product changes
  • contacting clients to let them know about new financial growth instruments
  • developing financial reports
  • knowledge of financial advisory regulatory aspects like cost of service and disclosure requirements is essential
  • researching the source of new financial products and their viability for clients
  • handle client complaints and redress them soonest

…and many more!

In short, the financial advisor has to fulfill the financial objectives of the clients, remain abreast of financial market trends, monitor new/old financial instruments and prepare reports for clients.

Personal Financial Advisor

There is nothing additional you need to know about becoming a personal financial advisor.

The educational requirements, certification and job responsibilities are nearly the same.

The only difference is that you have to find clients and retain them for a better financial advisory business.

You have to set up a complete business model and be extremely good at marketing your financial advisory services.

Don’t forget to get listed on a state or national databases and get the necessary certifications. Even if you’re doing a job - whether as an FA or in some other capacity - and possess the necessary certifications, you can become a freelance FA/consultant easily.

Endnote

We hope that the guide to become a financial advisor proves useful to you. Ask your doubts and questions, if any, in the comments below.

The Get-Started-Now Guide to Become A Financial Advisor 1
The Get-Started-Now Guide to Become A Financial Advisor 2

50 thoughts on “The Get-Started-Now Guide to Become A Financial Advisor”

  1. is there any age limit for pursuing CFP. May i grow in my carrier even at the age of 30 after CFP?

    Reply
    • Hi Deepali,

      There is no age limit for you for CFP. Complete your CFP and work in a financial advisory firm for 3 years. After 3+ years, you can start your own practice. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Hello sir
    I am in my final year of civil engineering (BE)
    But i want to be individual financial planner
    how much time it will take ?

    Reply
    • Hi,

      I suggest you complete CFP and work for a Financial planning firm for 3-5 years.

      You can start your own practice after that.

      Reply
  3. Hi I’m Susmitha, currently I am doing my MBA in finance final year and I’m getting lot of opportunities to be a financial advisor. And I am willing to do it also. What If I get a certificate from NSE for clearing NiSM exam in financial advisor module, will there be any changes in the pay scale and others schemes comparatively those without these certificates. What is the relevance of these certificate if you need only a bachelor’s degree
    Thanking you

    Reply
    • Hi Sushmita,

      What’s your career goal?

      Why do you want to go for this post when you’re doing MBA in Finance?

      There are many such questions for which we need to get into a detailed discussion.

      Email me for a detailed career coaching session.

      Reply
  4. Hey,
    It was good to read your article and it had helped me alot but i am further confused and want to take guidance how can i talk to you regarding this?

    Thanking You

    Reply
  5. Dear Sir,
    i have completed my PGDBA finance diploma course from Symbiosis center for Distance Learning. I want to know that if any certificate of CFP is required further for become an financial advisor in MNC in India. waiting for your reply.
    Deepankar Hasija

    Reply
    • Hi Deepankar,

      I suggest you complete CFP and then apply for financial advisor/ planner roles in Banks.

      Reply
  6. Hey i am a B.tech guy.I want to enroll for CFP . Can i practice Financial advisory after getting AFP without any experience or is there any way getting 3 years of experience without working under a company to start my own financial advisory firm.

    Reply
    • Hi Gautam,

      I suggest you ensure that you get 3-5 years of experience in advisory/ financial planning before you start your own practice.

      Reply
  7. Iam Jacob have done M.Com. How could i become a Financial Advisor

    Reply
    • Dear Jacob,

      If you have read this guide word-by-word, you will get all the answers. Contact me if you need a career guidance.

      Reply
    • I have done b.com and persuing MBA in finance from distance learning.
      I have worked in DSA (they provide home loans , business loan and many types of loans). I left this job. Now I want to be a financial advisor. What should I do first to start my career in this field.
      I should do job as a fresher in financial advisor company or first I should do course in finance to know about it.

      Bcz I have worked as a coordinator in loans and 6 months as a sales executive of credit card .
      Pls !!!

      Reply
      • Hi Aman,

        Do you want to become Financial Advisor in Personal Finance?

        If yes, then go for CFP and then start applying in Financial Planning firms.

        MBA through distance mode is not going to add much value here.

        Reply
  8. Hi, i am new to this field can u guide how to proceed further as i want to become IFA(i am currently doing tybcom and have cleared nism va exam)
    IT WOULD BE GRATEFUL IF YOU HELP ME WITH THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:)
    Sir, Your help will mean a lot!
    1)Is this qualification enough to distribute mutual funds?(will people buy from me at this qualification)
    2)Should i also get CFP or mba in finance ?
    3)Is it better to do job before starting your own business in this field?
    4)If yes,then shall i go to mutual fund houses or banks or brokers?
    5)mba in finace after bcom or cfp after bcom{which is more valuable in this field}

    Reply
    • Dear Nikhil,

      1. Yes
      2. CFP will help
      3. Yes, at least 2-3 years ACTIVE, Full-time experience
      4. Financial Planning Firms
      5. CFP for Personal Finance. MBA for Corporate Finance.

      Reply
  9. Dear Sir,
    I have a work experience of 3 years in TCS as a software engineer after completing my MCA. After that I joined nationalised bank as a PO and have a work experience of 2.8 years. My current salary package is around 5.50lakh. I would like to become a certified financial planner. Is it possible to do so without leaving my job and what are the opportunities and salary package that I may look for after completing the CFP.

    Reply
    • Dear Subhash,

      Yes, you can do CFP with your job.

      Do you want to take this as a full-time career?

      Reply
  10. I am an engineer with graduate diploma in Management from AIMA.currently working with an engineering company mid size at senior level. I am going to retire within 2-3 years from my engineering profession(with 30 years of marketing background).I have created interest in Personal finance since last 13 years after lot of ups & downs of my own personal investments.My dream is to educate the finance literacy which is lacking in our country and to create a client base independently without any bias. I also understand that Psychology & economics to be educated in parallel to the investor(specially middle class).
    But I do not know how to go about it for self preparation. should we go independently at the beginning or to be attached with firm like icicisecurities/hdfcsecurities?
    But i do not want to do 9-5 jobs any more as I am financially free.
    Need your advise.
    Regards,
    Amit

    Reply
    • Dear Amit Sir,

      Awesome initiative it would be! 🙂

      Initially, you can associate yourself with Financial planning firms.

      Also, check this NISM page.

      Please build a website and Facebook group to share your knowledge and updates.

      Reply
  11. Hello sir I have completed my B.Com, as well is I have diploma degree in taxation law…. And I am looking forward to become a financial advisor…. Is it suitable for me and what more should I do to become a financial advisor??????? Waiting for your kind perusal…….

    Reply
    • Dear Shantanu,

      Please enroll for CFP and start working in a financial advisory/ planning firm.

      Reply
  12. i m pursuing my studies in SY in babking & insurance.. nd working as part time in a share market advisory firm AND WANT TO SEE my career in this field.. what would you suggest ????????

    Reply
  13. I completed my BBI course (bachelor of banking and insurance).
    Can you please suggest me what to do next to become financial advisor.

    Reply
    • Hi Shival,

      Your question requires a detailed discussion.

      Step 1: I suggest you become our Email Member.
      Step 2: Email me for a detailed career coaching session.

      Reply
  14. Sir, im interested in studying financial advisor course.and im a degree graduate in commerce.i just completed mcom and waiting for my pg result.please guide me to become a financial advisor,and all about that course.

    Reply
    • Hi Sree,

      Your question requires a detailed discussion.

      Step 1: I suggest you become our Email Member.
      Step 2: Email me for a detailed career coaching session.

      Reply
  15. I have appeared 12 exams n waiting for the results
    I wanted to knw in which field do I need to do bachelors degree or if I opt mba then in which field do I need to do mba

    Reply
    • Hi Geeta,

      Your question requires a detailed discussion.

      Step 1: I suggest you become our Email Member.
      Step 2: Email me for a detailed career coaching session.

      Reply
  16. Hi,

    I am working as an IT profession. Apart from this, I am associated with LIC & Religare Health Insurance for the past 3-4 years. I want to switch my carrier in a financial advisory/planning way. Please help me with your guidance.

    Based on LIC & my past experience in a financial organization, I am trying to clear the AMFI exam, so that I can have mutual fund distribution in my kitty also.

    Reply
    • Hi Rajiv,

      Your question requires a detailed discussion.

      Step 1: I suggest you become our Email Member.
      Step 2: Email me for a detailed career coaching session.

      Reply
  17. Hi Avadhut, I am G.sampath kumar currently working as a Equity advisor can you please suggest me some recommendations to develop and settle in my career in Investment banking,research & so on.And the path to be followed to achieve it.

    Reply
    • Hi Sampath,

      Your question requires a detailed discussion.

      Step 1: I suggest you become our Email Member.
      Step 2: Email me for a detailed career coaching session.

      Reply
  18. Hi Avadhut
    I have completing my mba in feb.
    I did mba in finance but we did not have much exposure to financial planner subjects.
    what should I do now ? Also hwo do I look out for job for now in any financial planning firm

    Reply
    • Dear Abhijeet,

      You may start applying to financial planning firms and do CFP side by side.

      Reply
  19. hey…i wanted to know whether a person with engineering background can become a financial advisor..if yes then please show the way forward.

    Reply
  20. Hi,
    I am an engineering graduate and I am very much interested to become a financial consultant. Can you guide me with the procedure????

    Reply
    • Dear Sabari,

      Read the above article and this article. CFP would help too.

      Reply
  21. Do u have classes in chennai. What s the age limit,

    Reply
    • Dear V Usha,

      At present, we run classes only in Delhi.

      Reply
  22. Which bachelors degree is more appropriate for financially advisor course

    Reply
    • Hi Vijaya,

      Any degree related to finance, business, management may help. But, CFP would help most.

      Reply
  23. If this article is more specified on the Indian financial advisors then it would be of great help. What kind of courses they have to take in different verticals and how much they can earn. As we all know US market is good in this field but in India its under very initial stage. Please put some light on this.

    Reply
    • Hi Vikas,

      It depends on whether they want to start their own practice or want to work for someone. If you want to start your own practice, then CFP would help. Else you can start working with a financial advisory firm in India, right after your graduation.

      Reply
  24. Hey.. I am about to join a MBA course and am looking for prep material in finance like a certified course?? Can you please suggest which courses shall be opt for me??

    Reply
    • Hi Kanishka,

      What material you’re looking for? Any specific topics?

      Reply

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