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What does a financial advisor do?

At a glance

  • Responsibilities of a financial advisor include providing financial advice, helping clients develop financial goals, creating an investment portfolio and creating a long-term financial plan.
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the salary range for this position was $46,700 to $239,200 in May 2022. 
  • Employment for this role is projected to grow by 13% between 2022-2032.
  • A University of Phoenix Bachelor of Science in Business degree with a Financial Planning Certificate can help you educationally prepare for a career as a financial advisor.

A financial advisor uses knowledge of investments, risk management and financial markets to help clients make short- and long-term wealth management decisions. They can work with individuals or businesses. In addition to helping develop a financial plan and providing financial advice, some financial advisors help manage a client’s investment portfolio.

This career can be rewarding for those interested in finance who want to work directly with people to set financial goals and see the impact of their financial decisions firsthand. That said, there are several important considerations to address before you embark on this career path. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about becoming a financial advisor. 

Interested in accounting? A degree from University of Phoenix is a great place to start!

What does a financial advisor do?   

Financial advisors provide personalized services based on their clients’ needs. Their duties vary day to day depending on their current customers’ financial situation and goals. Here are the services advisors usually provide. 

  • Investment advice: Advisors offer advice and manage portfolios based on clients’ financial goals, risk tolerance and interests. Though advisors offer advice, purchasing and selling decisions usually lie with the clients unless they specifically request management services. 
  • Tax planning: Advisors help minimize tax liabilities and optimize returns based on current assets and income. 
  • Estate planning: Inheritance planning helps clients pass wealth on to beneficiaries through a will, trusts and other investments. 
  • Retirement planning: They offer guidance to help clients develop a financial plan to save for retirement. 
  • Risk management: Advisors help clients manage investment risks, diversify portfolios and navigate complex challenges, like bear markets and inflation. 

Though these professionals focus on the needs of their clients, some of their daily tasks are the same regardless of the nuances of their job. 

  • Advisors consult with clients to understand their financial goals, histories and obstacles. They use this information to create customized plans. 
  • Advisors need to stay on top of financial markets. They conduct financial analysis and track market trends with a focus on how the economic climate will affect their clients’ holdings. 
  • Advisors have to continue learning about new regulations, tax laws and changes in major industries. All these factors directly affect their clients. 
  • Advisors need to communicate with clients and provide education on financial matters. This aspect of the job is challenging because it often requires making complex concepts simple for non-experts. 
  • Client relationships are essential to this field
  • Communicating with clients and building trust are essential for success in this field. 

These duties require a diverse range of technical and soft skills that advisors develop through education and experience. 

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What can you do with
a finance degree?

What type of education do financial advisors need?  

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) information on how to become a financial advisor, a bachelor’s degree is necessary. The agency also states that a master’s degree and professional certification could increase chances of advancement. 

Advisors often start with an undergraduate degree in business or finance. A mathematics or accounting degree can also provide a knowledge base for those interested in finance careers. 

In addition to providing the knowledge base necessary for a financial advisor career, a bachelor’s is necessary for some credentials, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification. 

What skills do financial advisors need?  

Financial advisors need analytical abilities and interpersonal skills. These requirements necessitate a diverse skill set. Here are some key traits of this profession:

  • Analytical skills: Advisors must examine market trends, investment performance and risk profiles to create strategies to present to clients.
  • Problem-solving: The financial world is unpredictable. On top of that, advisors often need to work with clients in challenging financial situations. They need to find ways to fix issues and put their clients on the correct track. 
  • Communication: The ability to explain concepts and financial plans is essential because it builds client trust and helps them understand financial decisions. 
  • Time management: Most advisors handle multiple clients, and they have to examine financial data and stay current on market movements while providing responsive service to customers. The job often involves prioritizing and multitasking. 
  • Ethics: These professionals need to work in the best interest of their clients and should always be transparent about decisions and advice.
  • Empathy: Understanding clients’ emotions is crucial for this job. Advisors need to understand clients’ situations and offer support in difficult financial situations. 

Some of these skills come directly from work experience. In fact, some industry certifications place as much importance on experience as academic credentials. 

What level of experience do financial advisors need? 

In the resource about becoming a financial advisor cited above, BLS notes that most professionals in the field gain experience by taking an entry-level position in a firm. In this job, they work alongside a seasoned advisor. They may learn the ropes and then deal with clients directly with oversight from the senior advisor. 

CFP certification, one of the most common credentials, requires at least three years (or 6,000 hours) of professional experience before sitting for the exam. University of Phoenix does not educationally prepare for this certification exam.

Some financial advisory firms offer apprenticeships that typically last for two years or 4,000 hours. These jobs qualify employees for CFP certification if they also pass the exam. 

What certifications do financial advisors need? 

BLS says CFP certification enhances reputation and could bring new clients. However, financial advisors are not required to earn this certification. BLS says this position requires a license if advisors sell certain products directly to clients.

Students in finance or accounting programs can earn financial advisor certificates from their school to start getting specialized knowledge during their studies. Some programs combine business degrees with financial planning certificates

Some specialized certifications advisors might obtain are:  

  • Financial Risk Manager (FRM)
  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
  • Certified Estate Planner (CEP)

These certifications are for advisors who want to specialize or highlight skills in a specific area. 

How much do financial advisors make?  

As of May 2022, it was reported that personal advisors earned between $46,700 and $239,200 annually, according to BLS. Pay depends on experience, academic credentials, certification and skills. Geographic location also played a part in salary expectations. 

Financial advisors get paid in two ways. They earn a salary, and some get a commission if they sell investment products to clients. Commission-earning sales require registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Advisors selling insurance products may need to register with their state. 

What is the career outlook for financial advisors? 

BLS projects 13% job growth for financial advisors from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations. This statistic highlights the growth potential of the finance sector

The growth potential, unique skills, entry-level salary and other factors make financial advisor careers attractive to those with an interest in finance. Though this career requires academic qualifications and extensive on-the-job experience, it is potentially rewarding, with advisors having a direct impact on the finances of their clients.

Education programs in finance at University of Phoenix

If a career as a financial manager interests you, a Bachelor of Science in Business with a Financial Planning Certificate at University of Phoenix can help you learn how to analyze financial information to address business needs. However, if you’re interested in one of the different types of financial managers, such as being a treasurer or cash manager, you will have to look up the specific education and requirements for those roles as the necessary focus areas may not be taught in the UOPX degree program.

In the business and financial planning program, you’ll learn top skills such as management, operations, financial planning and financial analysis. More specifically, you’ll learn how to examine areas of financial planning that can be used to improve decision-making and analyze financial information to improve operational performance.

Perhaps you’d prefer to pursue a career in accounting. If so, you may want to consider the University’s Bachelor of Science in Accounting. In this program, you’ll learn to develop specialized skills in managerial accounting, estate taxation, advanced topics in accounting research and more. If you’re interested in business in general, or other sector of business, explore more about the business degrees offered at University of Phoenix!

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Michael Feder is a Content Marketing Specialist at University of Phoenix, where he researches and writes on a variety of topics, ranging from healthcare to IT and everything in between. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars program, and a New Jersey native!


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