Personal Financial Advisors
How to Become a Personal Financial Advisor About this section
Personal financial advisors must establish trust with clients and respond to their questions and concerns.
Personal financial advisors typically need a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree and certification can improve one’s chances for advancement in the occupation.
Personal financial advisors typically need a bachelor’s degree. Although employers usually do not require personal financial advisors to have completed a specific course of study, a degree in finance, economics, accounting, business, mathematics, or law is good preparation for this occupation. Courses in investments, taxes, estate planning, and risk management are also helpful. Programs in financial planning are becoming more available in colleges and universities.
Once they are hired, personal financial advisors often enter an on-the-job training period. During this time, new advisors work under the supervision of senior advisors and learn how to perform their duties, including building a client network and developing investment portfolios. This training usually lasts for more than a year.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Personal financial advisors who directly buy or sell stocks, bonds, or insurance policies, or who provide specific investment advice, need a combination of licenses that varies with the products they sell. In addition to being required to have those licenses, advisors in smaller firms that manage clients’ investments must be registered with state regulators and those in larger firms must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Personal financial advisors who choose to sell insurance need licenses issued by state boards. Information on state licensing board requirements for registered investment advisors is available from the North American Securities Administrators Association.
Certifications can enhance a personal financial advisor’s reputation and can help bring in new clients. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards offers the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification. For this certification, advisors must have a bachelor’s degree, complete at least 3 years of relevant work experience, pass an exam, and agree to adhere to a code of ethics. The CFP exam covers the general principles of financial planning, insurance planning, risk management, employee benefits planning, income taxes and retirement planning, investment and real estate planning, debt management, planning liability, emergency fund reserves, and statistical modeling.
A master’s degree in an area such as finance or business administration can improve a personal financial advisor’s chances of moving into a management position and attracting new clients.
Analytical skills. In determining an investment portfolio for a client, personal financial advisors must be able to take into account a range of information, including economic trends, regulatory changes, and the client’s comfort with risky decisions.
Interpersonal skills. A major part of a personal financial advisor’s job is making clients feel comfortable. Advisors must establish trust with clients and respond well to their questions and concerns.
Math skills. Personal financial advisors should be good at mathematics because they constantly work with numbers. They determine the amount invested, how that amount has grown or decreased over time, and how a portfolio is distributed among different investments.
Sales skills. To expand their base of clients, personal financial advisors must be convincing and persistent in selling their services.
Speaking skills. Personal financial advisors interact with clients every day. They must explain complex financial concepts in understandable language.
Financial Advisor Salaries in Every State
If you are interested in finances, a career as a financial advisor can offer you an above-average salary. A financial advisor can aid individuals with financial advice to make sure they plan for their future. In this article, we'll discuss how much financial advisors make, what the highest financial advisor salaries by state are and provide a list of related jobs.
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How much do financial advisors make?
Salaries for financial advisors vary based on geographic location, qualifications and years of experience. The average annual salary for a financial advisor in the United States is $66,684 though this number can fluctuate at any time. For the most up-to-date financial advisor salaries nationally or by state, check Indeed salaries for financial advisors. In addition to an annual salary, financial advisors earn an average annual commission estimated at $30,366.
An entry-level financial planner with five years of experience can earn $66,909 per year while a financial planner with at least 20 years of experience can earn a salary of $100,716 per year.
Financial advisors get paid in three ways:
- Commissions: When a financial advisor sells an investment product to a client, the advisor earns a percentage of the value of the product. A financial advisor earns a commission for recommending a company's product. The company pays the advisor commission as a marketing expense for the company.
- Fee-only: In terms of the fee-only model, financial advisors don't sell products and cannot accept commissions. These financial advisors work as fiduciaries for their clients. They get paid an hourly rate or a fixed annual retainer or a percentage (one to two percent) of the value of the investment assets they manage on behalf of their clients. Their advice is not dependent on the products they recommend.
- Fee-based: Fee-based financial advisors combine the commission-only and fee-only models. These financial advisors can sell an investment and earn a commission on the transaction or they charge a fee based on a predetermined percentage of the value of the portfolio of assets they manage for their clients.
Highest financial advisor salaries by state
The average salary earned by financial advisors differs between states. The salary levels of financial planners are higher in cities with a higher cost of living.
The highest salaries for financial planners are in Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey. States such as the District of Columbia, Florida and North Carolina offer high salaries for financial advisors because of the large number and high concentration of financial companies in these states.
The states in the Midwest and the South offer the lowest salaries for financial planners. The lower demand for the services of financial planners and the lower cost of living result in lower salaries in these states. The list below shows the salaries for financial advisors for each state though these numbers may fluctuate.
- Alabama: $124,240
- Alaska: $99,910
- Arizona: $103,130
- Arkansas: $103,880
- California: $141,100
- Colorado: $118,470
- Connecticut: $137,120
- Delaware: $124,480
- District of Columbia: $135,770
- Florida: $126,700
- George: $115,880
- Hawaii: $84,390
- Idaho: $104,890
- Illinois: $121,750
- Indiana: $107,000
- Iowa: $91,880
- Kansas: $100,730
- Kentucky: $91,760
- Louisiana: $93,600
- Maine: $134,380
- Maryland: $105,150
- Massachusetts: $109,370
- Michigan: $114,210
- Minnesota: $109,250
- Mississippi: $100,280
- Missouri: $89,710
- Montana: $103,890
- Nebraska: $92,340
- Nevada: $116,300
- New Hampshire: $114,190
- New Jersey: $127,220
- New Mexico: $127,350
- New York: $166,100
- North Carolina: $125,240
- North Dakota: $93,890
- Ohio: $109,640
- Oklahoma: $82,750
- Oregon: $114,150
- Pennsylvania: $117,510
- Rhode Island: $132,990
- South Carolina: $94,090
- South Dakota: $83,530
- Tennessee: $97,650
- Texas: $111,640
- Utah: $95,980
- Vermont: $76,050
- Virginia: $123,730
- Washington: $106,370
- West Virginia: $88,120
- Wisconsin: $106,250
- Wyoming: $118,620
How to increase a financial advisor salary
A financial advisor can earn more by getting certifications, such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. A financial advisor can get the CFP through education, passing an examination and work experience.
Frequently asked questions about a career as a financial advisor
Given that many industries can stand to benefit from financial advice and the skill set required will thus vary, there are many possible directions for this career path. The following set of questions will provide some clarity:
Which industries employ financial advisors?
Many financial advisors work in commodities, securities and other financial investment activities. Financial advisors work in the credit mediation or insurance fields. Some financial advisors are self-employed.
What skills does a financial advisor need?
Skills that a financial advisor should have include:
- Analytical skills: Financial advisors need to find the best investment options for their clients. They should analyze information, investment trends and the client's tolerance for risk. Financial advisors should analyze adjustments to clients' investment portfolios based on changes in circumstances.
- Interpersonal skills: Good interpersonal skills can help a financial advisor to develop a rapport with their clients to help them make financial decisions.
- Communication skills: Financial advisors must communicate well enough to get information from their clients since this will inform the investment options available to the client. Financial advisors need to adapt their communication styles in response to their clients' needs.
- Mathematical skills: Financial advisors work with numbers daily. They need to calculate investment amounts, changes to investments and predict future investment trends.
- Sales: Financial advisors need to be skilled as sellers since their income depends on attracting and keeping clients. They must be confident and persistent when engaging with potential clients.
What certifications must a financial advisor have?
A financial advisor with a bachelor's degree and a few years' on-the-job training, can complete different certifications. The choice of certification depends on the position and the duties of the position. Certifications for financial advisors include:
- Series six and seven licenses from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority: Completing the series six license allows a financial advisor to sell insurance premiums, mutual funds and annuities. The series seven license allows financial advisors to sell bonds and stocks. Each of these licenses requires passing an exam and regular renewal of the certification.
- Series 65 and Series 66 licenses from the North American Securities Administration Association: Most states need financial advisors to complete the Series 65 license. The Series 66 license allows a financial advisor to become an investment advisor. Both licenses require the financial advisor to pass an exam. The licenses need to be renewed regularly.
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP) offered by the Certified Financial Board of Standards, Inc. The CFP certification ensures that a financial advisor develops an extensive knowledge of different subjects, such as taxes, financial planning, retirement planning and estate planning. It can be completed after a financial advisor with a bachelor's degree has gained several years of work experience and passed a background check to ensure the advisor can meet the standards of conduct. The CFP certification requires continuing education for renewal.
Related:What Is On-the-job Training
People are living longer than before, resulting in longer retirement periods. Retirement funding needs to last longer than in the past. A financial advisor can provide retiring individuals with the best advice to ensure that the retirement funds last as long as possible.
Technological developments have complemented the developments in the financial advisor career field instead of reducing the job outlook for financial advisors.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of financial advisors will increase by 15% in the period up to 2026. This growth rate is above the average growth rate of other career fields. There will be an estimated 312,300 financial advisors in 2026.
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Average Financial Advisor Salary
Avg. Base Salary (USD)
The average salary for a Financial Advisor is $60,350
What is the Pay by Experience Level for Financial Advisors?
An entry-level Financial Advisor with less than 1 year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $49,713 based on 386 salaries. An early career Financial Advisor with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of $55,631 based on 1,287 salaries. A …Read more
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Job Satisfaction for Financial Advisor
Based on 461 responses, the job of Financial Advisor has received a job satisfaction rating of 3.95 out of 5. On average, Financial Advisors are highly satisfied with their job.
Prefer to self-define
This data is based on 1,410 survey responses. Learn more about the gender pay gap.
Common Health Benefits
How much does a Financial Advisor make in the United States?
Advisor salary finacial
Average Salary of a Financial Advisor
What Is a Financial Advisor?
A financial advisor is a professional who is engaged in the business of informing and educating clients about wealth, investment and other sorts of money matters—and sometimes managing these financial affairs as well. It's an umbrella term that includes stockbrokers, financial planners, investment advisors, tax preparers, bankers, insurance agents, and estate planners.
According to the salary information website PayScale, in Jan. 2021 the average salary for a financial advisor in the United States is $59,708, with most salaries ranging from $38,000 to $109,000. In addition to salaries, financial advisors also receive compensation in the form of bonuses, profit sharing, and commissions.
The average annual bonus received by a financial advisor ranges from $2,000 to $31,000. The average annual profit-sharing compensation ranges from $995 to $18,000. The average annual commission compensation ranges from $4,000 to $182,000. The average total pay for financial advisors ranges from $39,000 to $139,000.
Salaries for financial advisors also vary with experience. On average, a late-career financial advisor earns 32% above average, an experienced financial advisor earns 38% above average, a mid-career financial advisor earns 15% above average and an entry-level financial advisor earns 18% below average.
Financial advisors with investment management skills earn 6% above average. Those with investment planning skills earn 3% above average, and advisors with portfolio management skills earn 2% above average. Those who know financial modeling earn 4% above average.
Some financial advisors also receive compensation in the form of health benefits. Fully 75% of financial advisors receive medical benefits, while 60% receive dental benefits, and 52% receive vision benefits, with only 24% receiving no health benefits.
A great financial adviser has specialist knowledge of investments, savings and money management but also possesses great people skills
Financial advisers provide clients with specialist advice on how to manage their money. The role involves researching the marketplace and recommending the most appropriate products and services available, ensuring that clients are aware of products that best meet their needs, and then securing a sale.
Advisers may specialise in particular products, depending on their clients, such as selling employee pension schemes to companies or offering mortgage, pension or investment advice to private clients. Others are generalists, offering advice to clients in all of these areas, as well as saving plans and insurance.
In order to give financial advice, advisers must have professional qualifications and follow strict financial industry rules.
Financial advisers are also known as financial planners or wealth managers.
There are two types of financial adviser and advice - independent and restricted.
Independent advisers, also called independent financial advisers (IFAs), research and consider all retail investment products or providers available to meet the client's needs. They must provide clients with unbiased and unrestricted advice.
Restricted advisers only offer limited advice, focusing on a particular range of products or on products from one, or a limited number, of providers.
All advisers must inform their clients, before providing advice, whether they provide independent or restricted advice.
Your tasks will vary depending on your role but will typically involve:
- contacting clients and setting up meetings, either within an office environment or in clients' homes or business premises
- conducting in-depth reviews of clients' financial circumstances, current provision and future aims
- analysing information and preparing plans best suited to individual clients' requirements
- completing risk analyses
- researching the marketplace and providing clients with information on new and existing products and services
- designing financial strategies
- assisting clients to make informed decisions
- researching information from various sources, including providers of financial products
- reviewing and responding to clients changing needs and financial circumstances
- promoting and selling financial products to meet given or negotiated sales targets
- negotiating with product suppliers for the best possible rates
- liaising with head office and financial services providers
- communicating with other professionals, such as estate agents, solicitors and valuers
- keeping up to date with financial products and legislation
- producing financial reports
- contacting clients with news of new financial products or changes to legislation that may affect their savings and investments
- meeting the regulatory aspects of the role, e.g. requirements for disclosure, costs of the services provided and also the advised products.
- Salaries at trainee adviser level range from £22,000 to £30,000.
- Qualified financial advisers can earn between £30,000 and £45,000.
- Senior financial advisers working with an average-wealth client base can earn in the region of £60,000.
- Wealth managers or private client advisers who are based in the wealth division of major retail and private banks can earn more than £100,000.
Financial advisers may also earn bonuses and commission and have additional benefits on top of their salary.
Salaries vary considerably depending on your employer and location, as well as on your level of qualifications and experience.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Some jobs, for example a tied adviser in a high street bank, offer regular office hours. However, flexibility is required if working for a banking contact centre or as an independent financial adviser (IFA), as clients may require evening and weekend meetings.
What to expect
- Working can be office based although IFAs may work from home or meet clients in their own homes.
- Self-employment is common.
- There are openings for tied, multi-tied and independent advisers throughout the UK. However, private banking positions tend to be based in the City of London and other key financial areas such as Belfast, Edinburgh and Manchester.
- Travel within a working day is common for IFAs, but overnight stays away from home are unusual.
- Due to the regulatory nature of financial advice, overseas work is uncommon and most jobs are UK-based, serving UK customers. However, there are some opportunities for experienced advisers to work abroad for offshore financial advisory groups and international banks.
Although this area of work is open to graduates and diplomates of any discipline, the following subjects may improve your chances:
- business management
- finance or financial studies.
Entry without a degree is possible and employers often regard personal qualities as just as important as academic qualifications.
Relevant experience in a customer service, sales or financial services setting is also viewed positively. New entrants often start in a bank and study part time, learning alongside experienced advisers.
It's possible to enter the financial advice sector as a paraplanner, providing research and administrative support to a financial adviser.
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not needed.
Some retail banks offer graduate training schemes, whereas private banks often recruit graduates directly into the business.
It's possible to move into financial advice from other areas of the banking and insurance sector.
You'll need to show evidence of the following:
- excellent communication, interpersonal and listening skills
- the capability to explain complex information simply and clearly
- the ability to network and establish relationships with clients
- research and analytical skills
- negotiation and influencing skills as well as determination and tenacity
- the ability to work in a team
- time management skills
- customer service skills
- self-motivation and organisation
- a good level of numeracy and IT skills
- a target-driven mindset
- a flexible approach to work
- decision-making skills
- discretion and an understanding of the need for client confidentiality
- an ethical and professional approach to work.
A full driving licence is useful, particularly for independent financial advisers (IFAs) who may have to travel to visit clients in their own homes.
Evidence of commercial awareness acquired through part-time or vacation work or a longer work placement is useful. Experience in sales, advisory or customer service work is also valuable. Talk to a financial adviser for a greater insight into this area of work.
Financial advisers usually work for:
- banks and building societies
- financial planning firms
- independent financial advice companies
- insurance companies
- investment firms.
Others are employed by estate agencies, specialist pension consultancies, law firms and by a number of retailers who have developed financial services as a part of their business. Some work as self-employed advisers.
Independent financial advisers (IFAs) may work for an organisation or may be self-employed, providing advice on products across the market.
Look for job vacancies at:
You can also check the local and national press, and recruitment agencies commonly handle vacancies.
In order to become a qualified financial adviser you must take specific professional qualifications. Giving investment financial advice is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Employers often provide internal training and support to employees in gaining the minimum Level 4 qualifications needed to deliver financial advice. These include:
Financial advisers who want to provide advice on mortgages or equity, stocks and shares, or long-term care protection will need to take additional examinations.
For more information on the appropriate qualifications, see the FCA.
All financial advisers working in retail investment must have a Statement of Professional Standing (SPS), which confirms that they have successfully completed a Level 4 qualification approved by the FCA. They must also complete an annual programme of continuing professional development (CPD) of 35 hours and adhere to the FCA code of practice.
Many trainee advisers begin as tied advisers, gaining basic training in a range of financial products. Employers usually provide this in-house through a combination of formal tuition and on-the-job training. Trainees will gradually begin to work with clients under supervision and, gaining experience and qualifications, will acquire their own book of clients.
In the early stages you'll usually shadow an experienced financial adviser, doing some of the research and administration connected with their work and then you will gradually begin to deal directly with clients yourself, under supervision. As you become more experienced, you will acquire your own list of clients.
Most employers provide training and pay for examinations, but trainees are usually expected to study outside working hours and many courses offer distance learning opportunities. After you are qualified, regular supervision ensures that you maintain levels of competence and compliance with regulations.
The qualifications that you take may depend on the requirements of the organisation you work for and their specialist area.
After a period as a successful financial adviser, you could choose to:
- work on behalf of clients with larger sums to invest
- specialise in one type of financial advice, such as pensions and retirement, planning or savings investments plans - you might become the acknowledged expert in your office and colleagues would refer to you when they needed specialist advice for a client
- move upwards within your company and become responsible for the work of several other advisers, for the recruitment and training of new staff or for marketing and promoting the company - this might involve developing links with accountants, estate agents and solicitors in order to encourage them to refer clients to you.
Some advisers move into compliance work, which involves ensuring that all advisers follow company rules and regulations issued by regulatory bodies.
There may also be opportunities to become a director or partner in your firm.
Self-employment is another option. It's quite common for financial sales consultants with successful employment experience to launch their own businesses as independent financial advisers (IFAs).
You should continue to develop your skills and knowledge throughout your career. Studying for more advanced or specialised professional qualifications can enhance your career development opportunities. Qualifications include:
It's also possible to study full or part time for an MBA.
Find out how Chloe become a financial adviser on a graduate scheme at BBC Bitesize.
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