What to Know About Financial Planning Careers

(StatePoint) Considering a career in financial planning? Those in the industry point out that financial planning provides opportunities to chart one’s own path, maximize growth potential, and maintain work-life balance.

Whether you strike out on your own or work at a firm, big or small, here’s what to know about some of the most common employers of Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professionals:

• Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firms. At RIAs, financial planners generally provide investment advice to, and manage the portfolios of, clients with high net worth.

• Wirehouses. These are full-service broker dealers that typically sell investment products to clients and provide varied services, including retirement planning and tax advice.

• National and regional broker dealers. These firms offer similar services as wirehouses, but tend to be smaller. Those working there may buy and sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds or other financial products on behalf of their clients or for their own firm.

• Insurance broker dealers. Financial planning professionals at these firms, which are often owned by an insurance company, generally sell insurance products that are securities, such as variable annuities.

• Independent broker dealers. Many financial planners advise clients as independent contractors, rather than as a firm’s employee.

• Banks. Those affiliated with a specific bank will advise that institution’s customers.

• Self-employment. Roughly one in five personal financial planners opted for ultimate freedom and flexibility and were self-employed in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Firm-specific career paths also provide opportunities for CFP professionals to grow from aspiring advisors into professionals who lead client relationships and financial planning teams. While these career paths vary somewhat by firm, they tend to follow a five-step progression:

1. Analyst. The entry-level position for CFP professionals.

2. Associate Advisor. These CFP professionals draft financial plans and develop analyses to be presented by the firm’s lead professionals.

3. Service Advisor. Many firms require CFP certification for this position, which focuses on communicating with clients and responding to their needs.

4. Lead Advisor/Managing Director. Those in this role strategically manage client relationships, develop and implement a service methodology and guide clients through important financial planning decisions.

5. Principal/Partner. At this level, CFP professionals generally manage large teams of advisors and are responsible for their development; serve premier firm clients; contribute to firm growth; and have executive-level responsibilities.

Whatever option you choose, a financial planning career gives you the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people and families you serve, while building your own future. The BLS reports that financial planners earn a median pay of $89,000, and that jobs within the financial advisory industry will grow by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, meaning that financial planning presents long-term career opportunities. A detailed guide to financial advisory career paths is available at CenterforFinancialPlanning.org/CareerPaths. To learn more about how to become a CFP professional, visit cfp.net/become.

Before embarking on a financial planning career, get acquainted with the field to learn more about all the opportunities available.

Photo Credit: (c) monkeybusinessimages / iStock via Getty Images

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