At a time when more and more people are coming into wealth, there is a desire to learn how to manage that wealth properly. For many, the best way to learn is through an education from an accredited institution. While going back to school can seem overwhelming in itself, even after graduating, there isn’t always clarity around what comes next.
While the jump from individual investor to financial advisor can easily make anyone feel daunted, it’s important to remember that knowledge is truly power. After having the proper education, there are multiple ways to get the training you need to succeed in your new career path.
Do Financial Advisors Need a Degree?
Financial advisors are not required to have a university degree. However, there are many who do. There are even financial advisors who only go to the high school level. However, it is becoming increasingly common for employers in this field to require degrees, but it isn’t necessarily required by law that they do so.
Regardless of if your employer requires you to have a degree or not, getting one can be a huge advantage and open doors that may not have been available otherwise. If you’re looking to get into the financial planning industry, a degree is imperative. [You can add more here about how having a degree makes it easier to find a job, gives you access to certain opportunities, etc.]
Advisors must pass FINRA-administered examinations to work as financial advisors. FINRA, or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is a government agency that was set up to protect investor interest and promote market integrity.
For financial advisors who work independently, there may be additional courses and training they will need before they can start their own business. There are also courses that one can take to improve their skills and remain up-to-date on the changes in the industry.
It is more common for financial advisors who work for a larger company to be required to have certain exams passed before they start their jobs. These exams will vary depending on whether or not they are insurance or securities brokers, as well as the level of their roles.
Take One Step at a Time
Even though you do not need a degree to become a financial advisor, it is advisable to educate yourself on the subject from individuals who have already been through the many steps it takes to complete your education and become a financial advisor.
A good first step from moving from investor to financial advisor is seeking out an educational institution that offers continuing education in order to keep up-to-date with market changes and laws in a way that fits with your schedule and needs.
There are institutions readily available to investors who want to develop their skills, but be careful in choosing your path. Remember that ease of use via online classes is not always the best choice when you consider the flexibility that working or retired individuals require.
After thoroughly researching institutions and taking time to think about how you prefer to learn, it’s time to take the next step.
Invest in Your Own Education
Regardless of whether or not you decide to go back to school and get a degree, education is still extremely valuable for those who want to take the path from investor to financial advisor.
There are many resources available online and through books that can help you learn more about financial planning and how it works within your own personal budget. The more knowledge you have, the better you will be able to serve as a financial advisor in the future.
As John Dewey said, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”
Get an Understanding of the SEC and FINRA as it Applies to Advisors
One of the biggest obstacles that financial advisors have to face are regulations imposed both by their employers and by law. When you are an investor, these regulations aren’t something you have to think about often. However, when you become a financial advisor, it’s important for your work ethic to mesh with regulation so that clients are protected.
The SEC, or the Securities Exchange Commission, is a government regulatory agency that was established to protect investors against fraud and other securities-related abuses.
FINRA, or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is an organization created by the United States government responsible for protecting investors interests as well as promoting fair and ethical business practices within brokerage houses.
Learn about both of these regulatory agencies so that you are aware of the guidelines you will need to follow as a financial advisor. Ignorance is not an excuse, and failure to learn about these agencies can result in extreme measures, such a subpoena served by the SEC.
Go After What You Want to Do In Life
As Henry David Thoreau said, “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is what are we busy about?”
If you want to make the leap from investor to financial advisor who serves people by helping them manage their money and plan for retirement or other goals in life, then it’s worth putting in the time and effort to make it happen.
To put it simply, stop thinking of working as an investor or a financial advisor as what you do for a living, but rather something that drives your passion. You will never feel fulfilled by your job if you don’t put the work into doing what fulfills you.
As I’m sure you know, becoming a financial advisor is not something that happens overnight. It takes years of work and dedication to your client base to develop the skills necessary to do what you love.
Start by learning more about yourself and why investing and planning for retirement is an activity that stimulates you. Perhaps it’s because you want others to have the same opportunities you’ve had, or maybe you want to help others prepare for children and other family members.
In any case, your personal drive is what will push you forward when it comes time to take the leap from investor to financial advisor.