Financial Advisor Classes and Courses Overview
A financial advisor helps clients choose investments, plan for their retirement and select insurance. Courses in financial advising are normally taken through a full undergraduate or graduate program.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, a bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement to become a personal financial advisor. Most financial advisor classes lead to a bachelor's degree in financial planning, accounting, economics or finance, although master's programs that focus on financial planning exist and may help with career advancement. There are also some short certificate programs that are designed to prepare employed financial advisors for certification. Career options for graduates of a financial advising or planning program include investment advisor, financial advisor, financial planner, stock broker or accountant.
Programs preparing students for a career as a financial advisor usually cover the areas of retirement and employee benefit planning, accounting, risk management, financial advising, investment planning and estate planning. Students learn to help clients manage their assets, make decisions regarding savings and investments and select insurance. They study the basics of accounting to gain an understanding of financial analysis. Students also learn about retirement plans and their related tax issues, employee stock options and group health insurance.
Certification and licensure options for financial advisors exist. Those buying or selling financial products or insurance have to get licensed. Although it is not required, financial advisors may pursue certification as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). Prerequisites for earning this credential include possessing work experience paired with a bachelor's degree.
Overview of Financial Advisor Courses
Descriptions of sample financial advisor courses are shown below.
Introductory Financial Advising
In an introductory financial advising course, students learn about the duties of a financial advisor, which include helping clients make saving and investment decisions, as well as valuation and asset management. Course topics include trading, pricing of securities in financial markets, sources of capital and risk management. Some courses may include insurance basics. Students use these skills to help individuals and businesses plan their financial strategies.
Accounting is an important class for prospective financial advisors because it teaches students to record business transactions, understand accounting cycles and evaluate inventory, payroll, shareholder equity and liabilities. Accounting courses provide a foundation in financial statement analysis, cost behavior and profit analysis. This course provides students with accounting basics but does not prepare them for careers as accountants.
Financial advisors use risk management principles in order to give sound financial advice to clients. Risk management courses generally cover disability, life and medical insurance and introduce students to the importance of risk management in the global financial market. Topics like investment risk, market risk and probability theory are examined. Students learn how to read insurance policies and advise clients on insurance issues.
Students learn basic investment concepts, types of investment vehicles, investment risks and returns, bond and stock valuation and asset allocation. Other special topics of instruction include efficient market theory, portfolio management, investment taxation, securities market, security analysis and growth stocks.
Retirement and Employee Benefit Planning
Students learn about social security plans and other types of retirement plans. Additional subjects of instruction include qualified and nonqualified retirement plans, IRAs, disability insurance, employee benefit plans, stock options and group life insurance. Students may need to complete accounting or math prerequisites before enrolling in this course.
Estate planning issues, methods of property transfers, estate planning documents, gift taxations and gifting strategies are covered in this class. Students learn about liquidity needs, estate tax calculations, valuation, powers of appointment and marital deductions. Coursework may include analysis of case studies.
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