4 ways to keep your financial career one step ahead

In the 1970s, financial planners basically had two career options: they could become stockbrokers or insurance agents. Their path has been determined and their expectations are simple. A lot has changed since then. There are more options to choose from, but this also means that in a competitive environment, students should know more and do more than ever. Preparing for a career in financial planning requires more training in fields that traditionally belong to other occupations, such as accounting and psychology.

In this article, we will explore what fresh graduates and graduating graduates can do to determine where they want their financial planning career to go, and then take the lead in the competition.

Key points

  • A career in financial planning requires skills in traditional fields such as mathematics and accounting, but it also requires less traditional fields such as psychology.
  • In addition to majoring in finance, students can also take an internship or work part-time in a bank or accounting firm to help prepare tax returns.
  • Joining a trade group like the Financial Planning Association is a great way to network and find a job.
  • After graduation, the factors to consider should include what kind of company you want to work for, whether you want to work for a large company or a small company, and what kind of customers you want to reach.

Preparation before graduation

Perhaps the first and most obvious course of action is to simply choose a suitable major. These include business, economics, finance or accounting. More and more universities offer personal financial planning courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels. These programs can be particularly useful because they also often touch on many topics that other programs fail to cover. These topics include consumer rights, financial dynamics within the family, and retirement psychology.

Traditional financial planning courses only cover materials directly related to the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) Commission Exam, such as investment, insurance, and taxation. Therefore, choosing financial planning as a major will provide students with a broader knowledge base to start their careers. When dealing with customers, understanding the psychology of finance and investment will be an invaluable help. In fact, it is a skill that all financial planners must master.

Extracurricular activities
Of course, choosing the right major is only one step in further professional development that students can take before graduation. There are many other options for students, and they look good on the resumes of future employers. Here are some examples:

  • Prepare income tax returns. This is a good practical skill that can greatly benefit students in many ways. In addition to providing solid practical experience for customers in the financial industry, it will also teach students basic tax information, which will be tested in the CFP® Board exam.
  • Work in a bank. Student planners often find that working in a bank can provide a variety of career benefits. This is a job that is easy to adapt to the academic schedule. The salary is better than many other extracurricular jobs. It looks good on your resume, provides actual work experience, and shows that you are a responsible person.
  • Take the registered agent exam. The exam is administered by the IRS. This test covers almost all tax materials in the CFP® Board exam. Passing this test and earning this title will be an impressive proof to show to potential employers in any financial practice field. You will also get a huge advantage compared to CFP® applicants who have not received tax training before.
  • practice. An internship at a financial planning company will bring obvious benefits to any student. However, although any internship is beneficial, working in a smaller company may provide more practical experience in the client and financial planning process than in a large company. In large companies, interns are usually downgraded to administrative levels. Support or marketing role.

89,330 USD

According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average salary of financial planners in 2020.

looking for a job

Graduates can use many tools that can greatly increase their exposure in the financial world. Obviously, graduates who have completed internships in local companies have a great advantage over unknown competitors in the job selection process.

For those who do not have this luxury, the Internet can become an indispensable resource. Sites such as brokerhunter.com continuously list all available posts from many companies. Those who like to take a face-to-face approach and build a network on their own (and even those who don’t) are best to join a local chapter of a financial planning organization, such as the Financial Planning Association or the National Insurance Association and financial advisors. These groups provide many resources for novices and experienced planners, and are well worth becoming members. Their website usually also contains recruitment information.

According to the latest survey results of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial planning is expected to grow by 4% between 2019 and 2029, which is consistent with the average growth rate of all occupations.

after graduation

Knowing what job is best for you can be a challenge. Here are more things to consider when choosing a career path:

  • Many different business models are used in the financial planning industry today. Stockbrokers and insurance agents usually charge commissions, while registered investment advisers tend to charge hourly fees or a certain percentage of managed assets as compensation.
  • The size of the company is important. Large companies will provide convenient facilities such as office space, business cards and letterhead. However, larger companies may also have strict production quotas, lower commission expenses and a highly regulated environment.
  • In turn, small financial companies provide a more relaxed atmosphere and more comprehensive products and services. Working in a smaller company can also provide new representatives with a wider range of experience, who are free to implement comprehensive financial plans for their clients. The plan may include content such as mortgage plans and income tax preparations. In a large company, it is questionable whether you will bear this kind of responsibility.
  • Training and support vary from company to company. Financial companies such as Northwestern Mutual will provide employees with all the necessary education and training needed to pass the necessary exams, as well as comprehensive sales and product training. Many new consultants will benefit from training programs provided by large companies. Even if you eventually lose out in the competition from a large company, you will still have marketable skills that appeal to small companies that cannot provide the kind of training and licenses you receive.
  • Finally, the regulations of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority require brokers/dealers or other member companies to sponsor so that you can take any securities licensing exams.

Bottom line

College students can do many things before graduation to improve their market competitiveness. Once you enter the real world, remember that the initial key to successful financial planning business is persistence. Some graduates will immediately find their place in the field, while others may need to try several different working environments to find the one that suits them best.


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