How to Get a Job as a Financial Adviser
Personal financial advisers 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 advisers 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 adviser 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.
Interview Questions Submitted by Real Financial Advisers
"Tell me a situation that you went above and beyond for a customer?" - SunTrust Personal Financial Representative Candidate (Location Unknown)
"What are your expectations?" - Allstate Personal Financial Representative Candidate (Bellevue, WA)
"Are you connected in the community?" - Wells Fargo Financial Advisor Candidate (Location Unknown)
What is the Job Like?
It can be stressful, particularly during economic downturns or when client expectations outpace reality. "The challenge is to integrate client meetings, prospect meetings, and office work seamlessly so that no important balls are dropped," says Curtis. She schedules three or four client meetings each week and spends the rest of her time working on clients' financial and investment plans. She also dedicates time each day to responding to money questions from clients, such as whether they should take out an auto loan or use cash.
Real Reviews From Financial Advisers
+"Freedom in terms of setting your own schedule, hours worked, and how to run your business. The potential to make whatever income you want to make." - Edward Jones Financial Advisor (Torrance, CA)
+"Exciting career with endless opportunity." - LPL Financial Financial Advisor (Location Unknown)
- "You get paid for what you sell, so if you are not producing, you're not getting paid." - MassMutual Financial Advisor (Location Unknown)
- "No upward movement... once you're in a role you feel stuck in a box you cannot get out of." - Fidelity Investments Licensed Personal Financial Representative (Location Unknown)
Review information and interview questions supplied by Glassdoor.