Financial Advisor Training Programs and Requirements

Financial advisors assist clients in devising savings and financial investment strategies. Initial training for financial advisors generally includes completing a 4-year degree program. Read on to learn more about the training and requirements for financial advisors.

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Training Programs

Financial advisors counsel individuals seeking help with retirement, college, insurance and estate planning. Aspiring financial advisors typically need at least a bachelor's degree, preferably in an analytical or business-related field. Some firms may prefer to hire individuals with a graduate degree in finance or business.

Undergraduate Programs

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that aspiring financial advisors may major in a number of fields including finance, accounting and mathematics (www.bls.gov). Coursework may cover topics in managerial economics, finance fundamentals and financial management. Some degree programs offer students an opportunity to specialize in fields such as financial management, personal wealth management, actuarial science and investment management. Courses may also delve into technical skills like economic forecasting.

Graduate Programs

Students seeking advanced training may enroll in a Master of Business Administration or Master of Science in Finance program. These programs typically require a minimum of 30 credit hours beyond an individual's bachelor's degree studies. Through analysis of case studies, students learn concepts ranging from corporate to international finance. Required courses cover topics like financial modeling, business law, leadership and global economics.

Licensure Requirements

In order to act as a registered financial advisor, an individual must obtain licensure for the products that they sell. Candidates may also consider taking comprehensive exams, such as the Series 7 exam, which allows those that pass to sell all types of securities. Once licensed, financial advisors typically need to complete continuing education requirements to maintain their licenses.

Certification Options

After obtaining licensure, financial advisors can look to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards for voluntary certification (www.cfp.net). In order to qualify for the Certified Financial Planner credential, applicants must meet minimum experience and education requirements, abide by industry ethical standards and pass an exam.

Salary and Career Outlook

The BLS estimated that personal financial advisors will have a 27% job growth in the decade 2012-2022. Personal financial advisors earned $75,320 as a median annual wage in May 2013, according to the BLS.

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