If you are considering a career in the financial advisory industry, you are definitely interested in where financial advisors work.
And so in today’s article, we’ll talk about:
And so much more.
Without wasting time, let’s get started by answering: where do Financial Advisors Work?
Responsibilities of a Financial Advisor
Financial advisors’ primary role is to guide clients on how to manage their finances.
Apart from this general role, financial advising takes different forms, since financial advisors cut across various sectors.
They include bankers, investment managers, wealth managers, stockbrokers, insurance agents, tax planners, and estate planners.
Hence, the advice a client gets depends on their needs and financial goals.
So, what are the specific services you get from an advisor?
- Financial advisors educate their clients. Their aim is to help clients make informed choices on the financial and investment products they buy.
- Advisors meet new clients, analyze their financial situation, and recommend investment strategies or products that address their specific situations.
- Financial planners help clients develop a personalized financial plan to help them reach both short-term and long-term financial goals.
- They help clients better manage their finances through budgeting and savings.
- Investment advisors trade on behalf of their clients in the market.
- Advisors check in with their clients regularly to find out their progress.
- Advisors working for brokerage firms sell their products and services to individuals and companies.
- They constantly research for opportunities that will improve their clients’ portfolios.
Seems like a handful? Most definitely.
But that’s not all.
Since advisors work with clients with different financial needs, they constantly monitor the financial market to stay abreast of any changes.
They are faced with several choices at all times. One mishap can lead to huge losses to the client or the company.
Thus, advisors are always processing data and making the best possible financial decisions to help their clients maximize returns.
And on top of that, they travel and organize seminars and luncheons to market their services and sign up new clients.
A Snapshot of Financial Advisors Education, License and Certification
Here is something we can both agree on, financial advising is a competitive career.
To respond to the question: where do Financial Advisors work, we must first have a clue what their background is like.
More than having a passion for helping others, one must have the knowledge and competency to offer professional advice on finances.
For that reason, let me walk you through the education requirements to become a financial advisor.
Advisors generally have a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, mathematics, economics, statistics, and business administration.
Stick with me here because this is just the starting point.
A bachelor’s degree is recommended but now required.
That’s to say you’ll be better placed to start your personal finance career with a degree, since many employers list it as a requirement in their job descriptions.
But more than a bachelor’s degree, you absolutely need to pass Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) exams to jumpstart your career.
Depending on the financial services you want to offer, you can take:
Series 7 exam
This is a general license that most personal financial advisors acquire at the start of their careers.
With the license, an advisor can sell a wide range of personal securities.
This includes stocks, bonds, variable annuities, and mutual funds. However, an advisor can’t sell life insurance or real estate.
Advisors with a series 7 license are often referred to as stockbrokers. FINRA lists them as registered representatives.
Series 6 Exam
With this license, an advisor can sell package investment products, but they can’t sell bonds and stocks.
Series 65 Exam
This license is ideal for advisors who offer financial planning services.
An advisor with a series 65 license is not to sell or offer advice on securities.
Series 65 license is a requirement to become an investment advisor representative (IAR).
IAR charges a fee for offering investment advice.
Additionally, an IAR is held to fiduciary standards, meaning the financial advisory services offered must be in the client’s best interest.
Series 66 Exams
Passing series 7 exams is a prerequisite to taking the series 66 exams.
This license is ideal for advisors who want to become IAR.
There’s one exception, though, advisors with series 65 licenses are exempt from this exam.
Getting a license from FINRA is a must for financial advisors.
The puzzle you’ll need to solve is which of these licenses suits your career path.
As an advisor advances in career and acquires more experience, they can choose to specialize.
An advisor can do this through certification.
The most common certification is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP).
These financial advisors help clients reach their financial goals by developing a comprehensive financial plan that addresses their specific situations.
Apart from CFP, there are chartered financial analysts, personal finance analysts, chartered public accountants, among others.
Each of the certifications has different requirements.
Hence, an advisor must prepare in advance in terms of fees and time to take the certification courses.
Beyond the certifications, some advisors pursue a master’s degree in business and finance-related courses to further their careers.
Personal Financial Advisor Job Training
Many financial advisory companies offer on-the-job training for new employees.
The training is geared to help advisors gain hands-on experience in the first months of their careers.
An entry-level financial advisor works under a supervisor who guides them on the daily duties of an advisor.
They learn about the company’s financial products, investment management strategies, and financial planning process, just to mention a few.
Advisors also learn to prospect and build a client base.
By the end of their on-job training, an advisor would have learned the specific duties required of them.
They’ll have also improved their customer service skills, worked on their communications skills, and most definitely built strong interpersonal skills.
Financial Advisor Work Environment
Financial advisors work in an office set-up on a full-time basis.
Specifically, they work Monday to Friday and sometimes over the weekend or holidays.
A typical day of an advisor involves them sitting at their computer researching the financial market, checking statistics, reviewing their clients’ financial plans, scheduling meetings with new prospects, or typing reports.
Since their work relies on their client base to a huge extent, advisors usually spend their evenings, weekends, and holidays networking.
They’ll be attending conferences and seminars.
Experienced advisors sometimes attend seminars to conduct financial training.
Other times, advisors visit clients in their homes and offices when they are out of the office.
Where Do Financial Advisors Work?
When it comes to employers, most advisors work in financial institutions, such as banks, credit unions, brokerage companies, and insurance companies.
You’ll also find advisors working with corporates and government agencies.
Some advisors are self-employed, working in their own registered investment advisor’s firm.
In the recent past, another sector has cropped up in the financial advice sector, freelance financial advisors who can work from anywhere in the world.
Though the job description is the same as those working in offices, these advisors have the laxity to work flexible hours right from their home office.
Personal Financial Advisors Working Remotely
Remote work is not such a new phenomenon in the financial advisory industry.
In the past, advisors could work from home, but they had to report to the office a few times a week to deliver reports and progress.
But with the advent of technology, the remote work sector is fully fledged.
There are several opportunities in the finance industry that an advisor could explore to work remotely.
- Independent financial planner
- Virtual financial advisor
- Consultant financial advisors
- Financial writers
Despite these opportunities being online, advisors are required to have a license to sell financial products or offer financial advice.
Beyond that, a computer and a stable internet connection are a must-have.
So, how do remote financial advisors work?
Let’s focus on the four freelance opportunities.
Independent Financial Planner
Certified financial planners who take this route have years of experience in the industry.
Instead of opening a practice in town, they have set up a designated office area in their homes where they meet clients.
Ideally, an advisor working with clients from their homes must consider their home’s location. Clients will expect a safe neighborhood that’s accessible.
Other things like parking space are equally important.
Working from home advisors save on commuting costs.
They substantially cut down overhead costs.
Virtual Financial Advisor
Some companies employ financial advisors to work remotely full-time or part-time.
Depending on the company’s policy, advisors working remotely can solely work with clients virtually without ever meeting them.
In other scenarios, they are required to have an introductory one-on-one meeting with the clients and, from there, work with the client through calls, emails, or video calls.
Online-based financial advisory platforms, also known as Robo advisors, have systems where clients enter detailed information about their financial accounts.
An advisor from the other end reviews this information and gives the client personalized investment advice.
The more transparent and detailed the information a client provides, the easier it’s for a virtual advisor to analyze and give accurate financial advice that aligns with the client’s needs.
Working for online-based financial advisory companies is ideal for advisors who took some time off their careers to care for young children.
It’s also an excellent option for someone who doesn’t mind working at night as some of the companies give their clients 24 hours access to advisors.
Additionally, an advisor is assured of a regular stream of clients, though they can also market themselves.
Financial consultants that choose this path can expect to be paid a salary.
They can also be paid depending on the number of clients they’ve worked with.
Consultant Financial Advisors
Small and large firms usually contract financial consultants with specialized services like risk management, tax planning, or auditing.
Since their work is computer-based, financial analysts, certified public accountants, risk management specialists, and tax researchers can work from anywhere.
Their compensation plan is a flat rate or hourly fees, depending on the service they offer.
The most underrated remote work in the financial industry is financial writing.
The demand for financial literacy has gone up, with many people looking for ways to budget, save and invest their money.
Financial professionals with experience in the finance industry can particularly do well here.
Since they already have the knowledge, they only need little research to produce quality articles.
Financial writing is a high-demand skill that many financial companies are constantly looking for.
The best part?
An advisor is in charge of their schedule and can write from anywhere.
Top Companies That Employ Financial Advisors
Glassdoor gives a comprehensive list of top companies that employ advisors across the country. They include.
- Northwestern Mutual
- Equitable Advisors
- Morgan Stanley
- New York life
- Merill Lynch
- Edward Jones
- Waddell & Reed
- Wells Fargo
These companies either focus on investment banking, asset management, or brokerage services and insurance.
With years of experience, thousands of employees, and offices all across the country, they offer a tremendous learning opportunity for advisors getting their feet wet in the financial advisory industry.
They are equally a good fit for experienced advisors.
How Do Financial Advisors Get Clients?
The work of an advisor revolves around working with individuals and companies.
Since one’s client base is the key to growing a career and even earning more, prospecting for clients is the most important work of a financial advisor.
Therefore, to meet their long-term goals, advisors implement several strategies to find and maintain clients.
Current Client List
It’s common knowledge in the business world that it’s cheaper to maintain clients than to gain new ones.
Therefore, it goes without saying that when an advisor meets a client’s financial needs; they are more likely to stay with the client long term.
In fact, these clients could refer their friends, family, and even colleagues.
Beyond maintaining current clients and getting referrals, advisors can learn about the clients they enjoy working with through their existing clients.
Things like values and personality clearly come out when talking to clients.
Advisors can pick the client profile they enjoy working with the most and target their marketing to this specific group.
They can tailor their marketing to particular demography to get better results when prospecting for clients.
Collaboration with Colleagues
Instead of working alone, financial advisors work in teams.
They build strategic alliances with financial professionals that specialize in a different area from their own.
A wealth manager, for example, can partner with a certified public accountant to get high net worth referrals.
In the same breath, an insurance agent can partner with a financial planner.
These partnerships usually take time to build.
More often than not, a financial advisor will start with a big list of potential financial professionals they hope to collaborate with, only to end up with three to four individuals willing to form an alliance.
However, once collaboration is established, a financial advisor stands to earn higher returns.
Important to note is that the number of partners doesn’t matter.
It’s the quality of the partnerships that do.
Ultimately, the outcome of these alliances boils down to how an advisor nurtures them.
Furthermore, the alliance should benefit all the parties involved.
The best way to connect with people is to be part of something.
And that’s why community projects are almost always good for financial advisors to be involved with the community.
These platforms also provide a great opportunity for advisors to market themselves and their financial services.
However, before getting to the marketing part, it’s common courtesy to build a genuine connection with others.
When handled well, community projects like volunteering or championing for particular causes can be a consistent source of new clients.
The friends advisors make from these events can become clients themselves or refer their friends.
Beyond getting clients, getting involved in community initiatives is an avenue to meet advisors in other niches and build those collaborations we discussed earlier.
Success calls for celebration, hence appreciation events.
When a financial advisor has worked with several people to build their retirement plans, help others invest in real estate, or basically straighten their personal finances, it’s prudent they appreciate these clients for choosing their services.
I mean, there are a lot of options out there!
The appreciation events bring together a pool of clients, more so the existing ones.
They are also platforms where advisors can invite people they hope to be part of their clientele.
Without even trying, the advisor will have shown their prospect how they relate with clients.
More importantly, the prospects can experience firsthand the outcomes of the financial decisions the advisor has made on behalf of their clients.
Suppose the existing clients’ investment portfolios have grown seven-fold.
The results will definitely speak for themselves.
LinkedIn is a great platform when it comes to finding the right clients.
Unlike the old-age cold pitching, the platform enables an advisor to assess the prospect’s background information before pitching.
Financial advisors often strive to find common ground, which is a good conversation starter, before reaching out to a prospect.
LinkedIn lead building process through direct messages requires patience even when an advisor has established common ground.
But when done right, it’s a sure source of high-profile clients.
Apart from reaching out to individuals, advisors can create a network by joining and actively participating in groups.