The Big Four are the largest international accountancy and professional services firms, providing the highest-caliber auditing, taxation, management advice, business and financial accounting services to big and giant corporations internationally. Many personal financial advisors are licensed to directly buy and sell financial products, such as stocks, bonds, annuities, and insurance. Depending on the agreement they have with their clients, personal financial advisors may have the client’s permission to make decisions about buying and selling stocks and bonds. Private bankers or wealth managers are personal financial advisors who work for people who have a lot of money to invest. Private bankers manage a collection of investments, called a portfolio, for these clients by using the resources of the bank, including teams of financial analysts , accountants , and other professionals.
Most personal financial advisors work full time, and about 3 out of 10 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2012. Personal financial advisors must establish trust with clients and respond to their questions and concerns. Although employers usually do not require a specific field of study for personal financial advisors, a degree in finance, economics, accounting, business, mathematics, or law is good preparation for this occupation. Certifications can enhance a personal financial advisor’s reputation and can help bring in new clients.
The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards offers the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification. The exam covers the financial planning process, insurance and risk management, employee benefits planning, taxes and retirement planning, investment and real estate planning, debt management, planning liability, emergency fund reserves, and statistical modeling.
A master’s degree in an area such as finance or business administration can improve a personal financial advisor’s chances of moving into a management position and attracting new clients. In determining an investment portfolio for a client, personal financial advisors must be able to take into account a range of information, including economic trends, regulatory changes, and the client’s comfort with risky decisions. Personal financial advisors should be good at mathematics because they constantly work with numbers. To expand their base of clients, personal financial advisors must be convincing and persistent in selling their services.
Personal financial advisors who work for financial services firms are often paid a salary plus bonuses. Advisors who work for financial investment firms or planning firms, or who are self-employed, typically earn their money by charging a percentage of the clients’ assets that they manage. In addition to their fees, advisors generally get commissions for financial products that they sell. Employment of personal financial advisors is projected to grow 27 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. As large numbers of baby boomers approach retirement, they will seek planning advice from personal financial advisors.