To handle their money, more and more people are turning to financial planners for advice. So how do you get to be a financial planner? You may be surprised to learn that there are no formal education requirements to becoming a financial planner. However, if you wish to become a financial planner, there are several steps that can help you be successful in the profession.
- Get career advice. Before beginning any program to become a financial planner, talk to several financial planners. Ask them questions about the work environment and what you can expect as a financial planner. Also ask them how they got to where they are today, including their education steps. You can also consult the Institute of Certified Financial Planners or the International Association for Financial Planning for advice.
- Gain financial knowledge. Study financial planning courses available at colleges, universities, and specialty schools. Many programs are registered with the Institute of Certified Financial Planners, and these are certainly worth looking into if you want a quality program. You can also receive training directly from large financial planning or investment firms, which typically offer programs for recent college graduates or those changing careers. Although you may assume that on-the-job training programs are less rigorous than classroom training, in reality this is often an intense four-month training program designed to help you pass the exam quickly. Although a Bachelor’s degree is not required, it is definitely to your advantage to be a college graduate.
- Consider certification. Certified Financial Planners have the designation of CFP. This is an excellent selling point, making you much more credible when you’re trying to get new clients. In order to become certified, you must pass the Certified Financial Planner Examination. While formal education is a great start, you may also want to purchase study materials before the exam, to ensure that you understand all of the necessary information. There are over 100 different topics on the exam. Once you have passed the exam, clients will be more likely to trust you with their finances.
- Gain work experience. To become fully certified, you’ll need to gain work experience under a certified financial planner. There are several options for doing this; be sure you understand the CFP Board guidelines for work experience. Generally, you will be required to have 3 years of work experience to become certified, and meet continuing-education requirements throughout your career to remain current in the field.
- Understand ethics. Part of being CFP certified is understanding and adhering to their strict code of ethics. If you do not, you risk losing your certification. Since you are dealing with other peoples’ money, a strict code of ethics is a must. This is another way that your certification will help clients feel comfortable trusting you.
If you are good with money and investments, a career in financial planning may be a good fit. Keep in mind that you will also be dealing with clients and sales, so be sure that you will be comfortable with this aspect of your career as well.