A personal financial consultant, also known as a financial adviser or planner, is an individual who assists people in defining and reaching their economic goals. These professionals often have backgrounds in particular fiscal areas, and they develop plans for clients who seek advice in areas such as insurance or investing. Financial consultants are usually required to have a range of skills related to business and customer service. The majority are self-employed, but they frequently work in conjunction with other professionals when creating a client’s financial plan.
A typical first step in the process of providing financial services is the initial consultation with a prospective client. The first interview typically aims to help establish the client’s financial plan based on his or her current situation and future goals. The personal financial consultant can then answer general questions and provide advice about relevant topics such as personal budgeting or insurance.
A client might hire a personal financial consultant for a variety of financial services. The consultant's particular specialization might include providing tax advice or retirement planning options. Others advise their clients on investments, such as stocks and bonds, and they can often buy and sell commodities on a client’s behalf. Those who work with high-wealth individuals, essentially handling their finances for them, are generally referred to as private bankers or wealth managers.
In most places, a personal financial consultant is usually required to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Typical courses that he or she might take include accounting and economics. Additional study in risk management and estate planning is also common, and aspiring consultants might pursue other specialized training. Some jurisdictions require licenses to sell stocks, bonds, or insurance, for example, and many students go on to earn master’s degrees in business administration or finance before obtaining financial consultant jobs. To become a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®), one must usually complete a certificate or degree program at an approved institution and pass a certification exam.
An additional skill that usually proves beneficial to a personal financial consultant is the ability to market and promote his or her business. Since many are self-employed, strength in this area can be helpful for finding clients. Interpersonal skills are also important, as is the ability to work cooperatively with other professionals, such as lawyers and accountants, to develop comprehensive plans for clients.
Many times, a client retains one person as his or her financial consultant and schedules regular meetings with him or her to update financial plans based on life changes or other economic circumstances. As a result, financial planners must stay up to date on tax issues and other policies that could affect their clients’ financial situations or plans. In addition to providing financial services, a personal financial planner might also engage in activities such as teaching classes and traveling to attend training sessions.