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How to Get a Job as a Financial Advisor

Personal financial advisors may work for themselves or a larger firm or company. About 20 percent are self-employed, according to the Labor Department. In either case, communication skills are essential, since advisors talk to clients about 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 or midsize 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 Advisors

"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)

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility good Above Average
Stress Level poor Above Average
Flexibility good Above Average

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," Curtis says. 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.

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Last updated by Casey Quinlan.


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