How to Become a Financial Planner

Make top dollar and work with clients at the most important times in their lives.

How to Become a Financial Planner

Start your financial planning career right out of college.

If you’re a people person with money management skills and an interest in finance, financial planning may be the career for you. When you learn how to become a financial planner, you’ll have a career that U.S. News has consistently ranked in their annual list of the top five best business jobs.

With some targeted coursework and insight into personal finance, you can start your financial planning career right out of college. Learn all there is to know about the day-to-day work and high-earning potential of a career as a financial planner.

What Does a Financial Planner Do?

As a financial planner, you'll give valuable help to people about how to manage money at the most critical times in their lives—when they get married, have their first child, buy a home, and retire. You'll also help them manage their current assets, give them advice about taxes, and suggest ways for them to save for special occasions like weddings.

Financial planners spend a lot of their time interacting with clients, providing support and clear communication. As a result, clients put a lot of trust in their financial planners. It's your job to give them the latest information and expert advice about financial planning, taxes, insurance, and estate planning so they can make the most of the money they earn.

Here are some of the things you'll do as a financial planner:

  • Meet with clients.
  • Describe the financial services and products you offer.
  • Discuss the risks and rewards associated with various investment opportunities.
  • Make recommendations based on your clients' particular situations.
  • Watch your clients' investments and the current market and prepare investment reports.
  • Research new investment opportunities.

For more information about the daily life of a financial planner, take a look at this typical financial planner job description on Monster.

To build your business as a financial planner, you'll also need to market yourself. This can include giving seminars and attending social and business networking events where you'll meet new people who could become clients. Much of your new business will come from client referrals—if you help one client secure their family's financial future, they'll make sure their friends, coworkers, uncles, aunts, and cousins all come to you for advice.

How to Become a Financial Advisor

Becoming a financial planner starts with a bachelor's degree. As you complete your economics, business, finance, or financial planner degree, you'll take classes to learn about:

  • insurance
  • mortgages
  • college savings
  • estate planning
  • taxes
  • retirement

Start your financial planner education by planning for your own financial future. Take a look at these scholarships for finance and financial management majors that can help to cover the costs of your education.

Once you graduate and are hired by a financial services or advising firm, you'll shadow a senior advisor for up to a year and get additional on-the-job training from your peers. In your first few months and years, you'll start by helping clients create plans for saving and money management.

As you learn more about how to become a financial planner, you may become interested in selling investment products as well. Just keep in mind that some states require you to obtain securities licenses before you can sell regulated financial products such as mutual funds, variable annuities, stocks, and bonds.

After you have a couple years of experience as a financial planner under your belt, earning your master's degree and becoming a certified financial planner will help you advance and earn a higher salary.

What Is a Certified Financial Planner?

A certified financial planner (CFP) is recognized as one of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals about money management, finance, and investing. A CFP designation enables you to offer your clients more sophisticated investment products, including stocks, bonds, annuities, and insurance.

A financial planner becomes a CFP after completing coursework and passing an exam given by the CFP Board. The CFP Board walks current financial professionals, career changers, and students through the steps of how to become a certified financial planner, explains what coursework is needed, and outlines the contents of the exam. The board will also conduct an extensive background check on you before awarding you the title of Certified Financial Planner.

To sustain and renew your CFP, you’ll need to take yearly classes and adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct. Every year, you’ll be asked to disclose any experiences you’ve had with government agencies, bankruptcies, and customer or employer complaints.

How Much Do Financial Planners Make?

According to Monster data, the median financial planner salary is $65,498 but can range from $49,418 to more than $89,000. Your income usually increases when you become a CFP and can buy and sell securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments.

If you work for a financial services firm, your pay may be a combination of a salary plus bonuses. When you work for an investment firm or are self-employed, you'll earn money by collecting a small percentage of the assets you manage for your clients, by charging an hourly fee, or through commissions on the financial products you sell.

You can look up the average salary for a financial planner in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.

How to Find Financial Planner Jobs

Now that you know how to become a financial planner, it's time to dive into the job market. The first step is to write a solid resume and cover letter that lists your experiences in the finance industry and exemplifies your top-notch communication skills.

Once you have your job-hunting materials ready, Monster is a great resource for finding financial planner jobs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) identifies the five states with the highest financial planner employment as:

The top areas are:

Secure Your Future With a Career as a Financial Planner

Now that you know how to become a financial planner, you can begin a rewarding career that allows you to be part of your clients' success. Upload your resume to Monster for free so recruiters can find you for the best financial planner jobs in your area.