Just as a residential architect creates the plans for building a house, a financial architect creates the plans for individuals to build and maintain financial security. Although little regulation exists to govern who can use the title, taking financial courses and a certification test can separate the true architects from those merely using the title. To become a financial architect, also known as a financial planner, individuals will benefit from a combination of training, certification, experience, and personality.
Training options to become a financial architect take on a number of forms. Beginning in college, individuals interested in the career path may take a number of courses on the subject, which can provide a base of knowledge concerning money management, investments, retirement, paying for college, estate planning, and insurance. While not every financial architect chooses this path, he or she may also take classes on advanced tax topics.
Internationally, 20 countries offer the designation of Certified Financial Planner (CFP). Financial architects sitting for this exam can expect questions covering a wide variety of financial topics. Test questions range from using insurance policies to manage risk to the financial considerations of divorce. Certification organizations around the world encourage prospective test takers to complete a preparatory course or self-study program prior to taking the exam.
Before anyone can take the CFP exam to become a financial architect with certification, he or she must meet certain requirements. A post-secondary or university education, along with work experience in a related field, typically covers the requirement. If an individual feels his or her experience is sufficient to take the exam, there is a challenge process in place. People who hold another professional certification, such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and licensed attorneys may take the exam without the requisite three years of financial planning experience.
In order to get the required financial planning experience to sit for the CFP exam, financial architects can gain experience in a number of ways. Besides college courses, financial institutions offer training. An individual may be able to start as a bank teller and move into roles dealing with issues of financial architecture. Brokerages also offer training programs to develop the skills of entry-level stockbrokers.
Before anyone embarks on the road to become a financial architect, it is important to understand the nature of the job and compare it with his or her personality traits. Financial professions require extensive client interactions, so the ability to work with people is critical. A desire to learn more about financial concepts is also useful.
Although financial topics can extend into grey areas, a financial planner must be capable of acting in the client's best interest. Ethical behavior is at the forefront of the career. Failure to comply with the country's governing body on ethical matters can result in removal from the profession.