How Do I Become a Registered Financial Advisor?

Helen Akers

To become a registered financial advisor you need to first obtain education and experience. A bachelor's degree is required, in addition to certified financial planning courses. This process also entails accumulating a certain amount of hours dealing with clients in an advisory capacity. Registration can be completed through national organizations which typically require fees, peer evaluations and compliance with a set of ethical principles.

A company is more likely to hire a registered financial advisor who has experience within their industry.
A company is more likely to hire a registered financial advisor who has experience within their industry.

Formal education is required in order to become a registered financial advisor. Bachelor's degrees in business administration, finance or accounting are recommended. The degree requirement will usually need to be satisfied prior to obtaining registration with a national financial advisor organization, but can be completed up to five years after taking a certified financial planner exam.

Specific educational and licensing requirements beyond a bachelor's degree may be required in some local jurisdictions. Those who wish to become a registered financial advisor might need to go through additional course work in investments, retirement planning, tax planning, portfolio management and the like. Some companies might offer to sponsor candidates for this training and exam process. Regardless of whether the training is sponsored, direct experience in advising clients will need to be obtained from a company or through private practice.

For many wishing to become a registered financial advisor, it is easier to first obtain a position with a company. This can give candidates the necessary exposure they need to the industry without creating the potential for undue financial hardship. While private practices are a viable option for someone who already has a significant client base or the resources to build one quickly, many individuals need to take the time to develop these relationships.

Banks and similar financial institutions can be a good place to begin accumulating financial planning experience. Unlike insurance companies, banks will typically give entry-level workers an existing client base to manage. The pressure of having to generate leads and close prospects is eliminated, which allows the candidate to focus on applying his knowledge. Once a candidate has accumulated enough direct experience, he may then begin the official application process to become a registered financial advisor.

National financial advisor organizations offer registration by verifying educational and experience requirements. There is usually a processing fee along with annual dues that go towards membership benefits. The registration process might entail submitting a written project that demonstrates the candidate's financial planning ability and critical thinking skills. Other conditions such as periodic educational updates and adherence to certain ethical standards may be required.

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