The new economy means it’s normal to have several different jobs throughout our careers, which can mean several different retirement accounts. By far the most recognized, by consumers, is the Certified Financial Planner certification. The CPA/PFS (Personal Financial Specialist) designation is widely respected – and many Certified Public Accountants become financial advisors (especially later in their careers) and gain this designation. In some models a comprehensive financial plan is prepared in a fiduciary (advisor-based) engagement, and then the relationship changes and the customer is sold financial products. Some firms literally suggest to new employees that they work 70- to 80-hour workweeks.
Most investment advisory firms will sponsor their new employees for this exam, which takes about 3-5 weeks of hard studying followed by a 3-hour exam at a testing center. While fee-only” financial advisors typically only possess the latter (Series 65) licensure, many financial advisors who work in hybrid sales/advice environments possess all three licenses. And many programs offer exposure and training to various software programs commonly utilized in financial planning firms.
First, realize that there are now well over 100 undergraduate financial planning programs in the United States that have been certified by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. But – before you rush in to the financial planning field – I suggest that you take some personality tests. And, nationwide, many, many jobs are available for qualified applicants, and their is employer competition for the top talent coming out of undergraduate financial planning programs.
For most of the graduates in the top half of my graduating classes (G.P.A. of 3.0 or better, usually, although other personal attributes are important), jobs are available in what I call true financial planning” firms. In other words, these students will usually land a position in which they do much more comprehensive financial planning (or the support for same), rather than selling investments or insurance products.
And, as experienced financial planners will tell you – it takes that long (with lots of exposure to a lot of different financial planning issues and clients) to become a truly excellent and experienced financial planner. Some top graduates, and most students who graduate in the lower half of each class (as ranked by GPA), will migrate to sales-type jobs.