Nowadays, most financial advisors have a college degree and have a good understanding of the financial markets and a good command over financial subjects in general. However, in view of the ever-growing complexity of the work, a good grasp of the economy is essential to conduct technical financial analyses. This is an integral part of the job of a financial advisor. You must also be able to build relationships and gain the trust of your clients.
A license is a must for a financial advisor career. To qualify for the license, there are some specified exams that need to be taken and passed. Once the license is obtained, the licensee becomes eligible to represent clients. The license is issued by the state, though there may be some differences in the licensing requirements of different states. Most states require applicants to be sponsored by a brokerage firm, such as American Express or Fidelity.
The licensing examination is conducted by the ‘National Association for Security Dealers’ or the NASD. The examination is referred to as the General Securities Registered Representative Examination or the Series 7 Examination. After passing this examination, the candidate is expected to work with a registered brokerage firm for at least four months, before working independently. Many states require candidates to pass a secondary examination. This is known as the Uniform Securities Agents State Law Examination. This examination is designed to test the candidate’s general knowledge in securities and stock business and knowledge and understanding of customer protection laws, procedures and liabilities. It also covers record keeping and administrative procedures.
Although in-person training classes are available, the mode of study preferred by most candidates is via the Internet or correspondence courses.
Working as a financial advisor does have its share of risks; any career where you are solely working on commission is risky indeed. The fact remains that people who choose to pursue a career in this field are possessed with a strong belief in the success rate and work independently only after they have gained in-depth knowledge of the business. Brokers new to the business can benefit by approaching clients of large firms, as well as friends and family. A great deal of the client base of a financial advisor is won through referrals.
Having a successful career as a financial advisor takes a great deal of persistence – you simply can’t take ‘no’ for an answer, particularly when you are just starting out. However, once you are well established in your career, your earnings can rise well into the six-figure range.