A financial planning advisor works with clients to help them determine how best to set monetary goals and allocate their funds. He can work for a brokerage firm, a financial planning firm, or with private clients. An advisor who works for a money management or advisory firm or privately, as opposed to for a brokerage firm, is referred to as an independent financial planner.
Generally, financial planning advisors must obtain the appropriate education and certification before becoming advisors. This usually means obtaining a bachelor's degree in accounting, economics, or a related field, and often continuing on to obtain a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree. Additional testing and certification may be required, such as financial planning certification or the successful passing of a Series 7 exam, depending on whether the financial planner intends to manage brokerage accounts for clients.
Clients go to see a financial planning advisor to get help setting and achieving monetary goals. A client may see a financial planning advisor to get advice on retirement, paying for his child's college, or buying a home. The advisor can give the client advice on how to do these things, including helping the client to determine how much money he needs to achieve his goals and how best to prioritize the goals.
Once a client has a series of financial goals in mind and the financial planner has helped him to calculate how much money will be required to achieve those goals, the advisor generally helps the client to establish a plan to achieve them. This can include things as basic as setting up a budget, but usually includes more advanced financial planning assistance. An advisor, for example, may assist a client in balancing his portfolio. This involves ensuring the client has selected an appropriate mix of stocks, bonds, and other investments in line with his age, financial goals, and risk tolerance. This can also involve helping a client to ensure he has an appropriate mix of stocks and bonds to protect against market fluctuations.
A financial planning advisor may also assist with other aspects of financial and estate planning. For example, he may advise a client on finding an attorney to establish a trust or will to protect his assets. He may also advise a client on purchasing insurance products to ensure that the client's family is protected in the event of an untimely death or other tragedy.