How to Become a Certified Financial Planner – What You Need to Know

By | May 31, 2016
How to become a certified financial planner

Becoming a certified financial planner is needed to practice.

How to Become a Certified Financial Planner – What You Need to Know

If you are someone that likes to see people make wise financial decision, then becoming a financial planner sounds like a good career choice for you.

This post provides relevant information about the profession, and shows you how you can become a certified financial planner in record time.

Who is a Financial Planner?

A financial planner may go by a number of names; financial advisor, or even personal financial consultant, but the central responsibilities are the same.

A financial planner is an expert trained to assist people make a choice from a variety of finance-related products like financial investments, insurance, retirement planning, and college funding; and provide guidance to them.

Although this line of business or career is generally client based, building a client list or customer base is usually the quickest method to experience success in this line of work, and this demands rendering satisfactory assistance, because clients can link you to new customers, although holding seminars and lectures may also be adopted to get fresh clientele.

Being able to generate a large social network is a way to move quickly in this line of work, and working in related fields as an auditor, accountant, insurance sales agent, lawyer, sales agent for commodities and financial services provider is also ideal to securing such customer relationships.

Educational Requirements and Training for Certified Financial Planner

A Bachelor’s degree in finance, economics, business, accounting or statistics, and mathematics or a related field like law, can position you to become a financial planner.

This will require that you have a high school diploma or a related certificate. The requirements you need to meet may include exposure to such courses as risk management, investment planning, and taxes; and courses that provide proper understanding of short and long term goals.

Financial planners can be generalists or specialists in one area or another, examples include risk management, estate planning, taxes, and pensions.

Big companies may require graduate level qualifications for financial planners. Some pursue MBA or other graduate level degrees.

It is also proper to note that while classroom learning may provide the foundation to become a financial planner, internships may proffer a real-world experience for individuals while schooling, therefore, institutions with affiliation to financial establishments are advised.

Financial Planner Certifications

A number of certifications exist for financial planners, which may have requirements, such as having three years’ experience on the field, undergoing formal training or coursework, and sitting for exams and tests.

A number of certifications are recommended by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). They include:

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

Some financial planners may also require licensing to operate depending on their location. If they want to move into financial products sales for example, obtaining license to be an accredited insurance adviser will be needed.

For those focusing on investments, you will need to register with the Security and Exchange Commission.

Institutions to Train as Financial Planner

A number of institutions offer programs to qualify for a career in financial planning, ranging from an associate degree, which may require up to two years to complete, a Master of Finance (MSF), or an MBA, up to a doctorate, which may mean even more number of years both online and in physical classrooms.

Some institutions that offer such training include the Financial Planning Standards Council, which offers examination training for certain certifications.

Other schools like Full University of Georgia, Boston University, The College of Financial Planning, Greenwood Village, Texas tech University Lubbock, San Diego State University, offer Bachelor’s degree and Master of Business Administration certificates.

Certified Financial Planner Roles, Duties, and Responsibilities

It is not enough to tell a person what to do with their money, certified financial planners access a person’s financial position, attempt to have an understanding of what they want, and make recommendation s on how best to achieve them.

He/she serves as a trusted advisor, educator, and planning facilitator for building, managing and protecting assets.

He/she also plans trust funds for offspring of clients, and conducts regular financial situation reviews.

He/she can also serve as a portfolio manager.

Financial Planner Skills

Certain skills are required to succeed as a financial planner, including sales and calculating skills, familiarity with banking, interpersonal and communication skills, and analytical skills.

Others include creative ability, attention to detail and organization skills, as well as the ability to handle stress.

Financial Planner Career Opportunities

Financial planners work in a variety of places. While some are employed in large companies to focus on the investment or financial angle of the business, some may choose to work in smaller firms, or on private practice.

Although, self-employed financial planners are usually sales persons for financial products and so spend a considerable amount of their time teaching in seminars or networking, others may find themselves in insurance companies, banks, and finance investment firms.

Financial Planner Salary Expectations

The Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs the median annual income of financial planners to be at about $64,750, although most finance planners earn as little as $55,000, the pay falls within the range of $35,000 to $190,000 depending on location and clients.

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