(6.7 out of 10)
|Number of Jobs:||66,400|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Business Jobs||#2|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#32|
Financial advisors do what many people don’t like doing for themselves: Figure out how to manage their money. By meeting with clients and then helping them determine budgeting plans, investing decisions, insurance needs, and other financial to-dos, they get them on track to meet their money goals, as well as more personal ones such as buying a home or retiring. While many advisors start by working for larger financial-services firms, about 1 in 4 work for themselves, often building up expertise in specific areas, such as retirement planning or financial planning for small business owners. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors notes other specialties as well, including planning for same-sex couples, newlywed investors and individuals with special needs.
Financial advising jobs are expected to be one of the faster-growing occupations over the next decade, with a projected growth rate of 32 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During that time frame, 66,400 jobs are expected to be added to the 206,800 jobs that already exist. The impending retirements of 78 million baby boomers are expected to create strong demand for advisory services. However, two other trends could complicate the forecast. The market meltdown of the most recent recession left many people deeply suspicious of financial professionals, and the growth of online Web tools, many of which are free, might replace the need for one-on-one consults for some consumers.
Financial advisor salaries are above average—median annual wages were $66,580 in 2011, with the lowest-paid 10 percent earning around $32,810 and the highest-paid 10 percent earning more than $187,199. The highest-paid in the profession work in the metro areas of Bridgeport, Conn., Fayetteville, Ark., and New York City.
Earning the trust of clients depends on building and maintaining a deep level of financial expertise. A bachelor's degree is necessary, and an advanced degree can be an effective marketing tool. Obtaining and maintaining the certified financial planner designation is recommended, as is membership in the Financial Planning Association or other industry groups. Advisors often obtain securities licenses and may earn substantial portions of their income through investment fees. Many advisors also sell insurance products, which requires state licensure and professional certification.
Personal financial advisors can work for themselves or for a larger firm or company; about 1 in 4 are self-employed. Either way, communication skills are essential, since advisors talk to clients about very personal topics, including marriage, divorce, and death. "Financial planning is a very client-centric business—personal attributes are very important, including the ability to listen, be responsive to client needs, and empathy. A background in customer service or sales service would be a plus," says Cathy Curtis, an independent, fee-only financial advisor based in Oakland, Calif.
Curtis recommends first studying to become a certified financial planner, which requires specific coursework, and gaining work experience at a small- to mid-sized financial planning firm. "I wouldn't be picky about my first job in the industry; I would use it as a way to learn about the business," she says. Curtis also recommends joining a professional association such as the Financial Planning Association or National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.
|Upward Mobility||Above Average|
|Stress Level||Above Average|
Last updated by Kimberly Palmer.