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Financial consultant training prepares an individual to provide financial services to other people. Some examples of consultant services include addressing tax questions, assisting with estate planning, and coordinating investments on the client’s behalf. His or her training program may vary, depending on the location, as well as on his or her particular area of specialization. A typical academic plan usually consists of completing a degree or certificate program in financial planning, often followed by obtaining an advanced degree or professional certification. A combination of financial consultant training and professional experience is usually necessary for someone to advance in this career.
A bachelor’s degree is normally required to obtain an entry-level position as a financial consultant, also known as a financial planner or adviser. The candidate’s academic field is not necessarily important, but ideally, the person would have taken several courses in business and finance. A law or economics background could be helpful as well. Many students take additional, specialized courses, such as those that focus on taxes or estate planning. In addition, good customer service and interpersonal skills are also typically considered vital to success in this field.
While the level of regulation might vary internationally, most financial consultants in the U.S. must be licensed or registered, depending on their jurisdictions. Those who sell products such as insurance policies or stocks are typically issued licenses by state boards. In addition, small financial planning firms must usually register with their state regulators, while larger companies normally register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
When selecting a method of financial consultant training, those who want to take the Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) exam do not necessarily have to possess a degree. Often, a financial planning certificate is acceptable, as long as it was earned at an institution approved by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. Candidates for the exam typically must have at least three years of professional experience, in addition to having completed an approved degree or certificate program and having passed an ethics review. A variety of programs are available to suit individual financial consultant training needs, from traditional classroom study to online and distance learning options.
In general, competition for positions in financial services is high. As a result, individuals with advanced financial consultant training are often more likely to get preferred consideration for open positions. Advancement opportunities for financial consultants can vary from managing a firm to opening one’s own business.