A certified financial consultant, or CFC is a financial professional who has education, experience, and test scores sufficient to receive certification from a licensing board. Certification requirements may vary between regions, and different levels of certification may exist. The job of a certified financial consultant may depend on his or her areas of interest and expertise, but may include giving investment or tax advice, estate planning, or business consulting.
In order to become a CFC, a person must achieve the right blend of education, career experience, and examination results. Many consultants possess at least a bachelor's degree in finance or accounting, though some have more advanced degrees, such as a masters of business administration, or even postgraduate degrees. In some regions, a person cannot achieve certification until he or she has worked in the field for several years, which ensures sufficient experience to serve as a reliable consultant. The final requirement for licensing is an examination, which may test knowledge of tax and finance laws, investment understanding, and business or estate planning knowledge. Upon meeting these requirements, a person is considered a certified financial consultant.
Within the field of financial consulting there are a variety of jobs for certified professionals. Some choose to go into private practice, providing one-on-one investment, tax, or planning services for individual clients. Working as a private consultant can provide a more flexible careers, often allowing a consultant the opportunity to plan his own work schedule, choose his own clients, and determine personal career goals without interference.
Some CFCs may prefer employment at a consulting firm handling large corporate or even government clients. Firms may hire out consultants to work on specific jobs, or may assign teams of consultants to large, complex, questions of business restructuring or expansion. Working at a consulting firm may be a good place for entry-level financial professionals, as there are many opportunities to gain experience while working toward certification.
A certified financial consultant may also take an in-house position with a corporation, non-profit organization, or even government department. These jobs allow the consultant to devote his or her time exclusively to the management of one client. Working as an in-house consultant may allow opportunities for promotion within the company; some chief financial officers (CFOs) start out as financial advisors to a specific company.
In any position, a CFC must be an expert on finance and tax law. In many cases, these professionals are primarily responsible for ensuring that a client's tax information is legally and accurately reported, thus protecting the client from fines and audits. In addition to legal knowledge, CFCs are often required to have a comprehensive understanding of investing, and may need to be able to give thorough and accurate market forecasts. For those with a true gift for the wide world of finance, becoming a certified financial consultant can be a rewarding and extremely lucrative experience.