Training Programs to Become a Financial Advisor
by Michael Marz
Financial advisors typically help people with their investments, retirements and tax planning, as well as selling financial products, such as life insurance and annuities. But since one measure of your success is the number of clients you have, your biggest asset as a financial advisor is going to be your people skills. Financial advising skills are highly in demand as the industry is experiencing substantial growth due to the increasing number of people approaching retirement age early in the 21st century. As a result, you have many training options to choose from.
If you want to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree while also getting training to be a financial advisor, enrolling at a traditional college or university can satisfy both needs. At the undergraduate level, this can be done by selecting a business or finance major and taking as many financial planning related courses as you can. But if you already completed a bachelor’s degree, you may want to consider a focused graduate degree, such as a master’s program in financial planning.
Banks and investment firms, such as Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Bank of American and Wells Fargo, for example, offer extensive in-house financial
advisor training programs. You will have to apply, but after being accepted and completing the training, you’ll be able to open your own financial advising office that’s affiliated with and supported by the bank that trained you. At Wells Fargo Advisors, for example, your training program will last 30 weeks. During this time, Wells Fargo will teach you the content that’s tested on the Series 7 and 66 exams, which you’ll need to pass in order to become a registered representative of Wells Fargo. You will learn about the investment products you’ll be selling, how to use the software you’ll eventually rely on and how to be an effective salesperson.
Consider getting the Certified Financial Planner, or CFP, designation, since it’s highly regarded in the field. In order to sit for the CFP, however, you’ll need to have earned a bachelor’s degree. The degree can be in any academic area, but you must also complete courses that cover topics such as income tax planning, interpersonal communication and professional conduct. If you lack the required coursework, you can always take the classes at a school that offers a CFP Board-Registered Program. They include universities and colleges and test-preparation schools such as Kaplan, for example.