Financial advisers, also known as financial planners, advise individuals, couples and organizations on financial matters, such as spending income, saving for retirement and making sound investments. Although most financial advisers practice as generalists, others specialize in investments, savings or insurance. Individuals looking to become financial advisers must have the relevant professional qualifications and be able to follow industry regulations. Top employers include investment firms, consultancies, insurance carriers and brokerage firms.
Doing the Job
- To study a client’s financial information, evaluate his financial goals and create a good investment portfolio, a financial adviser needs strong analytical skills. Math skills are also essential, because an effective adviser must convert currencies, determine percentages and derive financial ratios. Financial advisers also need strong speaking and active listening skills to interact and share information with clients effectively.
- Personal financial advisers help clients make sound financial decisions by providing all the relevant information. For example, when a client wants to buy education insurance for her children, the financial adviser analyzes the client’s financial position to ensure she can afford the policy, and researches the insurance market to identify the best providers and advises accordingly. These financial advisers also help clients improve credit ratings and secure bank loans.
- After helping clients implement financial plans, such as investing in securities, investment financial advisers often keep in touch with them to discuss the progress of the investment. When a client wants to change his investment options, the adviser furnishes him with new information on potential investment options. These financial advisers also liaise with financial services providers to ensure the interests of their clients are being met.
- Financial advisers must update their knowledge on industry regulations. For example, investment advisers who manage $110 million or more in client assets keep tabs on the US Securities and Exchange Commission to monitor changes in relevant regulations. Other financial advisers or planners usually are regulated by state agencies, such as boards of accountancy.
- To become a financial adviser, you must earn at least a bachelor’s degree in economics, finance, mathematics or business. You also need to obtain a license or registration with a state regulator. Investment financial advisers running large firms must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. To improve your ability to attract more clients, pursue a master’s degree in business administration or earn the certified financial planner certification from the Certified Planner Board of Standards.
- In 2013, the mean annual wage for personal financial advisers was $99,920, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the same period financial advisers offering investment services was $117,460, while those working as resident advisers in companies made $92,700. Between 2012 and 2022, the bureau also estimates a job growth of 27 percent for personal financial advisers, greater than the estimated 11 percent average for all jobs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), in 2006 the banking industry employed more than 1.8 million. Out of these job, 7 out of 10 were in commercial banks. The banking industry has a wide range of jobs and positions available. Tellers still make up a vast majority of the employees, but other bank positions take up a large sector in the job industry in general.
Careers in finance span a large number of positions, in commercial banking, financial planning, private equity and more. As you prepare for your job interviews, practice possible questions and answers to help you compose yourself. You'll formulate the best answers before your finance job interview so you can get the career you want.
- “Tell me about yourself.” This is often one of the first questions a hiring manager will ask during an interview. Although it may seem personal, a potential employer doesn't want to hear your life story. Instead, tell him about yourself as it relates to a career in finance. Briefly list your college education and the positions you've held recently.
- “How has your education prepared you for this career?” Employers want to know that you are proficient in the various math principles involved in financial careers. List the classes that you took that can help you with the job position. Spend time discussing the subjects that you excelled in over all others. If you had a 4.0 grade point average in advanced accounting, mention this to the hiring manager.
- “Why have you chosen a career in finance?” Avoid answering this question with a personal anecdote. Show your enthusiasm for the career with your answer. Even if you got into finance because your parents made you, it's best to leave this out. Example: “My love for numbers and organization led me to an education in investment banking. I've wanted this as my career ever since.”
- “What are your strengths?” Limit your answer to one or two examples for this classic interview question. Explain your strengths in finance, such as attention to detail or multitasking. Tell a brief story of how you used it in previous finance positions. Don't list more than two strengths as this may be perceived as over-confidence by the hiring manager.
- “What are your weaknesses?” Never say that you have no weaknesses in answer to this question. Instead, tell the hiring manager of one weakness. Pick a weakness that could be acceptable to a potential employer. Also list how you're working to improve that weakness. Example: “I sometimes find it hard to concentrate toward the end of a long day working on client financial accounts. I've since started going for a five-minute walk outside during my lunchtime and that helps to keep me focused.”
- “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” Although you may want to retire or work for a different company in 10 years, leave this out of your answer. You should also avoid saying that you want the interviewer's career. Instead, mention how you still want a career in finance. Example: “I'd like to hold a high position in corporate finance in 10 years, using my skills with math and corporate accounts.”