Financial Consultant Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a financial consultant? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a financial consultant is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Financial Consultant Career

Financial consultants help people make sound investments in order to overcome financial obstacles and meet goals, such as planning for retirement. Check out the pros and cons of becoming a financial consultant and see if it's right for you.

Pros of Becoming a Financial Consultant
High earning potential relative to education requirements (average salary of approximately $108,090)*
Variety of specialization options (risk management, retirement)*
Advancement options with education and work experience (financial management, self-employment)*
Much faster-than-average employment growth (a 27% increase is projected between 2012 and 2022)*

Cons of Becoming a Financial Consultant
May work long hours (30% of these professionals work over 40 hours a week)*
Must constantly research and adapt to the latest financial trends*
Bachelor's degree is usually the minimum education requirement*
There may be stress involved with helping people to make risky or difficult financial decisions*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Financial consultants give financial advice to people and help with decisions involving insurance, investments and taxes. They inform clients about investment options, recommend specific investments and discuss possible financial risks. They may help their clients plan for specific financial circumstances, including retirement or education expenses, or help their clients make financial adjustments to accommodate life changes, such as marriage and children. Financial consultants monitor their clients' investments and meet with their clients in order to update them about the status of their investments and to inform them about new opportunities. These professionals usually work in offices and travel to attend conferences or teach finance classes in order to attract new clients. While about one-quarter of financial consultants are self-employed, most work in the finance or insurance industry.

Job Growth and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage for financial consultants was around $108,090 in 2014, which averaged to about $51.97 per hour. Employment of financial consultants was expected to grow 27% between 2012 and 2022, which was much faster than average among all occupations. The growth in this field was attributed to the aging population; more individuals are planning for retirement.

Education and Training Requirements

Financial consultants typically must hold a bachelor's degree in accounting, economics, finance, law, business or mathematics. Financial consultants who directly sell or buy insurance policies, stocks, bonds, or specific investment advice must have a combination of licenses for the types of products they sell. For example, those who sell insurance must have a license issued by the state board. In general, financial consultants should have the following skills and talents:

  • The ability to give sound financial advice
  • Knowledge of the latest financial trends and developments
  • An aptitude for communicating with clients
  • A sound background in finance, business and mathematics
  • The ability to attract clients
  • The ability to manage and interpret a large range of information

Job Postings from Real Employers

Many employers are hiring financial consultants with relevant educational backgrounds and work experience. Employers emphasized that candidates must be able to attract new clients and sell financial products. In addition to meeting with clients, financial consultants are usually expected to be able to write detailed reports, react to various economic trends and to exhibit strong interpersonal skills. In order to get a better sense of the kinds of jobs available to financial consultants, see the following examples of job postings that were open during April 2012:

  • A credit union in California was seeking a licensed financial consultant. Candidates were required to have at least three years of experience in the securities industry and sales experience in mutual funds, insurance products and annuities. Candidates were also expected to have a comprehensive knowledge of financial markets. Job duties included seeking potential clients, processing new account applications, presenting financial information in seminars and selling the services offered at the credit union.
  • A financial services provider in Florida was hiring a financial services consultant. Candidates were required to have 1-3 years of business experience. Applicants must have health insurance in Florida, good credit and a driver's license. This employer preferred candidates with an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree. Job duties included meeting with clients, selling products and maintaining a client base.
  • A financial organization in Texas was hiring a financial consultant. Candidates were required to have at least two years of experience in selling financial products, the ability to attract new clients and a passion for helping people. Job duties included offering guidance, specialized financial analysis and financial product portfolios to clients.

How to Stand Out in the Field

While earning a bachelor's degree, you can benefit by taking courses in taxes, risk management, investments and estate planning. If you're planning on pursuing a master's degree, you could benefit from a business administration or finance program. With a graduate degree, you can improve your chances of advancing to management positions and attracting new clients.

Get Certified

By earning certification, you can enhance your employment options and attract new clients. The Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation is offered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. To earn this certification, you must have at least three years of relevant work experience, a bachelor's degree, pass an examination and agree to adhere to a special code of ethics. The certification examination covers financial planning processes, risk management, taxes, retirement planning, employee benefits planning, investment planning, debt management, real estate planning, emergency fund reserves, statistical modeling and planning liability.

Alternative Career Paths

Insurance Sales Agent

If you enjoy working with clients and giving them advice that can influence their financial situations, but you're more interested in the insurance industry, then you may wish to consider becoming an insurance sales agent. Insurance sales agents work for insurance companies and sell one or more varieties of insurance, including life, health and property insurance. By explaining different insurance policies, they help clients choose the plans suited to their needs. They expand their customer base by calling potential clients and interviewing clients to suggest changes or additions to their customers' existing insurance policies.

While a high school diploma is typically the minimum educational requirement for working in this field, many insurance sales agents have bachelor's degrees. Insurance sales agents must be licensed in every state where they work, and they also have the opportunity to earn voluntary certifications to enhance their credentials. The BLS reported that the mean annual wage for insurance agents in May 2011 was around $63,000. Employment was expected to grow by 22% between 2010 and 2020, which was faster than the average among all occupations.

Financial Manager

If you want to specialize in giving financial advice to organizations, as opposed to individuals, then you may enjoy a career as a financial manager. Financial managers are responsible for the financial stability of an organization. They direct investments, make financial reports and develop strategies to meet long-term financial goals. They must analyze market trends in order to identify opportunities for expansion and try to find ways of reducing costs.

Financial managers almost always hold at least a bachelor's degree, and many employers prefer to hire individuals who hold master's degrees in fields such as finance, economics or business administration. In addition, financial managers usually need at least five years of experience in a related financial field. Between 2010 and 2020, employment was projected to grow by 9%, which was slower than the average of all occupations. You typically have high earning potential as a financial manager; the BLS reported that these professionals earned an average income of about $120,000 in 2011.

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