Certified Financial Planner Career Information
Financial security is something that we all desire. In the aftermath of the recession, most Americans want to ensure their finances are sustainable for the present and the future. Certified financial planners (CFPs) are high in demand because they help clients reach these goals. According to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board), a CFP is a “financial hero” and “uniquely qualified to help individuals pull all their finances together, solve financial problems, and make a plan to achieve their financial goals.”
Jacob Kuebler, a Certified Financial Planner and co-owner of Bluestem Financial Advisors, is passionate about his profession. In an interview with his alma mater (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Ace), Kuebler shared, “My job comes with a mixture of technical skills and personal interaction…Knowing my work with a client has made a difference in their life or helped them reach a goal is a great reward.”
CFP Job Description
Certified financial planners may work for a company or institution (such as savings and loans, banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies or investment firms), own a financial advising/planning company or work as a self-employed consultant. General financial planning job duties include:
• Meeting with clients to find out what their financial status and goals are and working with them to develop financial plans.
• Researching investment and other financial opportunities and discussing options with clients.
• Continuously monitoring clients’ financial plans and readjusting as necessary.
• Helping clients accommodate special circumstances, such as college tuition, growing families and retirement plans.
• Educating and advising clients on specific financial areas, such as insurance and taxes.
• Keeping up to date on market trends and financial regulations/laws.
Financial Planner Degree Requirements
Generally speaking a financial planner needs to complete a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. To become a certified financial planner, a Bachelor’s degree (or another CFP-Board approved program) is required.
If you have yet to go to college or university, and would like to pursue a career in financial planning, numerous schools offer Bachelor’s degrees with financial planning as a major or concentration.
Other Educational Programs
If you have already completed an undergraduate degree, several educational institutes offer either professional certificate programs or Masters (graduate) degrees in Financial Planning so you gain relevant skills and experience.
When searching schools, it is a good idea to find one that adequately prepares you for CFP® certification. In 2010, there were over 200,000 financial planners (personal financial advisors) working in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But not all of them would have been certified through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. Those who hold the CFP® certification are considered the “crème de la crème” in the job market.
Additionally, consider the fact that some schools offer online financial planning programs so you can pursue studies at a time and place that coincides you’re your current lifestyle.
Financial Planner Certification/Licensure
As of January 2006, 50,316 American financial planners were certified with the CFP® credential. “Recruiters and prospective employers recognize CFP® certification as the most desired designation in this growing field”, states the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., which administers the certification process. It adds, “CFP® certification can open the door to more and better opportunities.”
To gain this credential, candidates must write a two-day exam, pass a background check, pay the appropriate certification fees and abide by the Board’s code of ethics for financial planners. To be eligible to write the certification exam, you must meet the educational and experiential pre-requisites. Education requirements are either a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline, the completion of a CFP Board-approved program or holding another relevant credential (such as an attorney license, a CPA, and others) that reflects relevant education. The experiential requirement is either three years of related, full time professional experience or two years of a relevant apprenticeship. Note that internships/co-ops included as part of an educational program may count towards your experiential requirement.
According to the BLS, those financial planners who directly sell or buy financial securities (such as bonds, stocks and insurance) are required to be licensed. Depending on the size of the planner’s or the company’s financial activity, he, she or it must be licensed either through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or through their state regulator.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes financial planners as Personal Financial Advisors. According to the BLS, for this profession:
Job Outlook: 32% (“much faster than average”) growth in jobs between 2010 and 2020.
Median Salary (2010): $64,750/year