Hello there, welcome to another informative article about a financial planner career.

By the end of this article, you’ll know everything you need to have a successful career in financial planning.

This guide also outlines the qualifications and how to get started as a financial planner, including the work environment and schedules.

Overall, we’ll cover the following in detail:

The qualifications of a financial planner
Financial planner work environment
Financial planner work schedule
Levels of financial planner experience and what to expect

Let’s get started!

The Qualifications of a Financial Planner

To become a financial planner, you must meet specific education requirements.

In addition, being proficient in specific knowledge areas and skill sets is an added advantage.

Let’s take a deep dive into the qualifications needed for a successful career in financial planning.


Though the field of study doesn’t matter, many financial planners have a bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance, mathematics, and accounting-related courses.

Aspiring financial planners usually go for an internship in their final year of bachelor’s degree studies to gain real-world experience in the field.

Smiling female college student

At the entry-level, financial planners receive on-the-job training under the supervision of a senior financial planner.

As they get their feet wet in their career, they go for professional licenses since most financial planning jobs require applicants to have one.

FINRA has a wide range of licenses that financial professionals can choose from depending on the financial services they want to offer.

Additionally, some job opportunities require financial planners to have professional certification.

Many financial planners opt for certified financial planner (CFP) certification, which the CFP Board offers.

Other standard certifications in the industry include chartered financial analyst (CFA), chartered financial consultant (ChFA), and certified public accountant (CPA).

Financial professionals in leadership positions mostly have a master’s degree in business administration, finance, or accounting.

Knowledge Areas, Skills, and Abilities

Personal financial advisors must be proficient in financial analysis, industry software, and administrative management.

They must show their competency when calculating clients’ financial standing, financial projections, and investment returns.

Financial planners use software to conduct financial analysis, client database management, portfolio management, etc.

So, knowledge of using the most common industry software is crucial.

Also, administrative management skill is a must as personal financial planners should allocate the office resources appropriately and demonstrate leadership skills in their daily duties.

Financial planners can better offer their financial services when it comes to skills and abilities if they are equipped with top-notch communication and interpersonal skills.

Other essential skills to have include organizational skills, analytical skills, and administrative skills.

What Do Financial Planners Do?

Certified financial planners help clients achieve their financial goals.

Their roles revolve around the following:

Client Communication

Client communication is at the core of what financial planners do.

Personal financial advisors must communicate effectively from the prospecting stage to converting a prospect into a new client to maintain the relationship.

Financial planners must break down financial terminologies at the prospecting stage and explain their financial services and other financial documents in simple terms.

Once a prospect is on board, financial planners must deliberate with the client on their financial situation and help them meet their short-term and long-term financial goals.

Later, whether they offer estate planning or retirement planning services, the financial planner reports to the client the progress of their investments.

In cases of a market crash, financial planners calm their clients by making them understand the crash’s impact, how it will influence their investments, and ultimately, financial goals.

Effectively communicating with clients is pivotal for a financial planner to grow a client base and career.

Client Interview

client interview

Financial professionals interview clients to understand their financial situations, risk appetite better, and financial goals to develop a comprehensive financial plan that matches their needs.

Apart from asking the client questions at the interview stage, the financial planner must also answer tough questions.

Apart from interviewing the client, financial planners also meet with the client’s advisors, accountants, investment bankers, attorneys, and trust officers to overview the client’s past and current investment and assets.

This ensures that the planner’s financial plan is in sync with the client’s investments and overarching financial goals.

Active listening and observational skills are instrumental for financial planners to get the most out of client interviews.

Financial Assessment

Financial planners use various strategies to assess their clients’ financial health to understand clients’ financial situation.

They may go through bank statements, loan agreements, assets, and credit cards.

Often, financial planners give their clients a questionnaire that will help them develop a comprehensive client profile.

The questionnaire may include current income, insurance policies, risk tolerance, investments, expenses, tax returns, and financial objectives.

Examining clients’ financial health helps advisors customize financial advice and develop a comprehensive financial plan that genuinely addresses the client’s needs.


Getting new clients is an integral part of a financial planner’s career.

Because of this, networking takes up a significant part of personal financial planner responsibilities.

They may plan a seminar to educate the public on investment management, mutual funds, retirement planning, or simply budgeting.

Hosting such events allows planners not only to educate but also to advertise their services.

They also attend association meetings, community groups, and local events to meet new people and hopefully find potential clients.

Networking can also take the form of blogging or social media marketing, where planners share insightful tips on financial planning and management online.

Investment Research

While there is much software that planners can leverage to have instant access to the financial market trends and forecasts, they must have the expertise to interpret this data and decipher it for clients.

Financial planners must also have the skills to crack the financial market themselves and identify investment opportunities and trends they can leverage to help clients gain a maximum return from their investments.

Personal financial advisors review their clients’ financial reports.

They also analyze the performance of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds to provide clients with an overview of their current performance and projection of future performance.

An overarching benefit of this research is it allows financial planners to develop a solid investment portfolio.

Portfolio Management

human hand stacking golden coins on black background with hexagonal golden shapes

Some financial planners manage several investments for different clients in diverse sectors.

Financial planners are tasked with evaluating and selecting the right combination of high-risk and low-risk investments to meet clients’ long-term financial goals.

 However, financial planners must be strategic about buying or selling clients’ assets as portfolio managers.

Financial Planner Work Environment

Financial planners work in a variety of work settings.

The environment financial planners work in is primarily determined by where and who they work for.

Self-employed Financial Planners

In self-employment, financial planners operate their advisory firms.

A self-employed financial planner must be more aggressive in marketing, advertising, and prospecting.

They may choose to specialize in a specific niche, say estate planning or retirement planning.

They may also choose to work with a specific group.

According to the BLS, about 24% of financial planners are self-employed.


In banks, financial planners promote the bank’s products and help clients settle for products that meet their financial needs.

Financial planners that work with banks tries to offer their customers lower rates and investment opportunities to entice them.

Insurance companies

Financial planners working for insurance companies sell insurance products such as life insurance, education insurance plans, and personal accident cover, among others.

They assist individuals in making informed choices when signing up for a policy.

Brokerage firms

The securities and commodities industry employs the highest number of financial planners.

BLS projects that 51% of financial planners work in this sector.

Financial planners guide clients on investment products and securities in brokerage firms and sell them.

Credit intermediation

Financial planners work with clients to develop a feasible plan for paying debts in this sector.

They may also help clients negotiate with the creditors on the payment terms.

Apart from these five sectors, financial planners also work in real estate, small independent firms, and financial investment firms.

Some financial planners work as lecturers, researchers, or professors in the academic field once they advance in education.

Financial Planners Work Schedule

Financial planners’ work schedule differs depending on one’s type of practice, time spent prospecting, and workload.

Thus, some financial planners work part-time, while others work 40 hours or more weekly.

The extended working hours can be linked to overtime work where financial planners may need to travel to meet clients or adapt their schedules to meet clients’ schedules.

Two businessmen having a handshake

This may include at-home meetings, phone consultancy, or evening and weekend meetings.

Financial planners spend even more hours working to meet continuing education requirements for a license or certification, research, or analyze financial reports.

Financial planners’ schedule is flexible, but it’s also very tight.

Financial Planner Experience Levels

Like any other profession, a financial planner career progresses through different levels as they acquire experience in the field.

Here is an overview of what to expect at entry-level and after five or ten years of experience.


At the entry-level, financial planners’ careers often start with low pay, long working hours, and high pressure to deliver.

At this stage, many financial planners work with mutual funds companies, securities and commodities firms, banks, and investment firms.

Their job involves networking to attract clients, meeting with other financial planners, and analyzing clients’ financial documents.

The on-the-job training is intense, and financial planners often find themselves working in the evenings and even on weekends.

Five Years Experience

With five years of experience, financial planners must have established a strong pipeline of prospects and high-value clients.

They now work unsupervised and are more established in the business.

Additionally, the income at this level is considerably higher compared to the entry-level.

The commission has equally increased, which adds up to the impressive salary.

Some financial planners choose to open their advisory firms with a strong book of business.

Ten Years Experience

This is where financial planners are at the prime of their career.

They have established long-term relationships with clients.

Since most of their existing clients are thoroughly impressed with their work, they often get new clients through referrals.

Financial planners with ten years of experience have an impressive track record and, of course, a six-figure salary.

They may have climbed the career ladder and moved into managerial positions at this point.

But financial planning industry is broad and inter-twined, let’s take a look at other paths financial planners can take along their career journey.

Other Career Paths in Financial Planning Industry

Whether they have the CFP designation or not, financial planners may often go by the job title, personal financial planner, client service advisor, associate advisor, or wealth management advisor.

Besides these typical financial planner titles, there are a few other career paths in financial planning.

We have financial advisors, financial analysts, financial consultants, and wealth managers to give a sneak peek.

Financial Advisors

Financial advisors can be stockbrokers, bankers, insurance agents, estate planners, or money managers.

They offer financial advice, help clients make decisions about investment, trade on behalf of the client, and sell financial products.

Later in their careers, they may specialize in investment management, tax planning, insurance, or estate planning.

Financial Analysts

These financial professionals use data to recommend the best investment strategies.

They use various techniques to analyze the financial market, economic trends, and a client’s financial situation.

They then create a data-driven financial model to help clients invest better.

Financial Consultants

Consultants focus on accountability.

They help individuals and businesses design strategies and action plans.

They are a type of financial advisor who help conduct audit on clients’ current financial situation and profer a strategic plan that will help them achieve their financial goals.

Wealth Managers

Wealth managers work with high-net-worth individuals.

They tend to be more hands-on and offer more specialized services depending on their needs.

They offer philanthropic planning, tax services, estate planning, retirement planning, legal planning, investment management, or personal financial management.


Financial planning is a demanding career that requires a commitment to succeed.

Putting in the hours is the only sure way to make it.

If you stay the course, you can be sure to enjoy a fulfilling career that meets your financial needs and allows you to help others manage a sensitive part of their lives, finances.

According to Payscale.com, the financial planner career is highly fulfilling.

Based on a survey of 104 respondents, a financial planning career garnered 4.25 stars out of the possible 5 stars.



CFP Board


The Balance Careers

The Princeton Review


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