Becoming a financial advisor

Becoming a financial advisor requires patience, both in terms of building your client base and dealing with clients once you have them on board.(Getty Images)

In some ways, being a financial advisor is like being a therapist: You share in your clients’ biggest life events – such as having a baby, retiring and handling inheritance – and are often tasked with helping them address their fears, such as recessions or running out of money.

This is part of what makes a career as a financial advisor so rewarding, but it’s also why becoming a financial advisor isn’t easy.

“Giving advice to clients is a privilege,” says Rianka R. Dorsainvil, a certified financial planner in the District of Columbia and co-founder and co-CEO of 2050 Wealth Partners. They’re trusting you with the intimate details of their finances. Earning that trust requires passing rigorous exams and holding yourself to the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.

Is a financial advisor the right career for you? Here are several factors that go into that decision, and steps to take toward becoming a financial advisor: What does a financial advisor do?

Responsibilities of financial advisors.

Day-to-day activities of financial advisors.

Is this the right career path for you?

The financial advisor skill set.

Questions to ask yourself before becoming a financial advisor.

Financial advisor requirements.

How to become a financial advisor: a step-by-step guide.

Becoming a registered investment advisor.

What does the Investment Advisors Act of 1940 do?

Who is subject to the Investment Advisors Act?

How to register as an RIA.

Salary snapshot.

How long is the process of becoming a financial advisor?

Robo advisors and modern financial planning. What Does a Financial Advisor Do? Financial advisors help their clients make more informed financial decisions. Those decisions can be around anything from how to start investing to retirement or estate planning.They can work in a variety of settings, the most common being large financial institutions such as banks or brokerage firms, with smaller firms and independent, self-employed advisors becoming increasingly popular.Some advisors specialize in a certain area, such as retirement planning or investment management; a particular client type, such as those within a given net worth or age bracket; or a specific account type, such as workplace plans. Responsibilities of Financial Advisors Regardless of their specialization, all financial advisors have the same objective: to help their clients “figure out their life’s financial puzzle,” says Adam Breazeale, a senior financial planner at Charles Schwab in Panama City Beach, Florida.”We look at where our clients are relative to where they want to be, then provide the tools and solutions necessary to create a road map for success,” Breazeale says.This guidance comes with enormous responsibility. Financial advisors have the ability to transform their clients’ lives every day.Financial advisors spend their days “meeting with prospective clients, implementing solutions with new clients and reviewing plans with existing clients,” Breazeale says.Every day is different because every client has a different need, says Michelle Bender, a certified financial planner at Potomac Financial Consultants in Germantown, Maryland. On a typical day, she’ll meet, virtually or in person, with five to six clients, spending six to eight hours of her day in client meetings.”I’d say 85% of our conversations are around saving for retirement,” Bender says. “The core is always: Do we have enough for retirement? Then the ancillaries are college, saving for a house” and other financial goals.When they aren’t in front of clients, financial advisors are often prepping for client meetings and marketing themselves to prospective clients through networking or marketing events. They’re also constantly attending continuing education seminars “to keep fresh on the financial services industry and maintain (industry) licenses,” Bender says.To juggle all of this, Bender limits client meetings to three days per week. “I find having client-focused days and non-client-focused days helps my schedule flow better both professionally and personally,” she says. Is This the Right Career Path for You? “One thing people need to understand is it’s largely a sales profession,” Breazeale says. Even if you choose not to run your own business, you still need to get clients.also requires patience, Bender says, both in terms of building your client base, called a book of business, and in dealing with clients. Every client has a different need and requires a different approach, she says.Financial advisors need both strong interpersonal and analytical skills. They must be able to analyze investment and financial data, then clearly communicate their findings with their clients.Some of the skills a financial advisor needs include: Aptitude […]

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