Some accountants begin accounting careers and then move forward to work in the financial planning industry. Working as a financial planner allows you to utilize the analytical skills you need to be a successful accountant by focusing more on offering consultation to clients rather than tabulating clients’ finances.
Often, financial planners work with individuals or families, but some work with small businesses or larger corporations. Financial planners offer all aspects of advice when it comes to managing an investment portfolio. As a financial planner, the first thing you will do with a new client is assess the client’s goals. Your client may be planning for his or her retirement or beginning to save for a child’s college education. In this case, you would talk with your clients about their time frame for saving, their current assets, and what steps they need to take to reach their goals.
Other clients may need advice on the most prudent insurance policies for their household or business. A financial planner analyzes the risks and benefits of different levels of insurance coverage and then provides data and conclusions to the clients. Many clients also seek financial planners to help them prepare their taxes and minimize the amount they owe the government. Some financial planners also specialize in estate planning.
After meeting with clients, a financial planner identifies possible strong points and pitfalls to reaching the clients’ goals. Most financial planners meet with their clients on a yearly basis. During these meetings, they discuss progress towards the clients’ goals and any life changes that could either positively or negatively affect their finances, such as a birth, new job, or marriage. A financial planner takes all of this into account and then offers the client a revised plan on how to achieve the client’s goal. Usually, these recommendations are given in an oral discussion, although financial planners can also furnish their recommendations in writing.
Sometimes, financial planners fulfill the role of investment brokers for their clients. In this role, financial planners consult their clients on which stocks or other funds to buy or sell. However, while financial planners offer advice in many areas, they often also serve as contacts to recommend other professionals to their clients. A client may need specific advice on tax law or on buying a home, in which case a financial planner would put the client in touch with a lawyer or real estate broker. Keeping a vibrant network is important to satisfying your clients and can help you draw in new clients, too.
Aside from a background in accounting, taking courses in business, finance, and economics is helpful if you plan to pursue a career as a financial planner. You will need a combination of both communication and analytical skills so that you can perform a productive financial analysis and relay the information effectively to your clients.
Many financial planners take the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam in order to earn distinction amongst their colleagues. This exam is composed of three essay tests that you take over the course of three years. You need to have completed your bachelor’s degree and have three years of work experience in order to complete the CFA. Other certifications are also available to financial planners, although neither these nor the CFA are required to work in the field; they merely are a means of illustrating your expertise.
Lots of financial planners are self-employed, although some work for financial advisory firms. The average salary for financial planners is about $70,000 per year, although there is great variation and a significant chance for growth.