I’ve used a financial adviser for about four years now, ever since my wife and I decided to become self-employed as freelance writers. Financial planning and wealth management jobs are plentiful, and these professionals perform an invaluable role in helping other professionals manage their income, expenses, and investments.
There are lots of different careers in finance, each of which requires a strong background in accounting, math, economics, and related fields. Some people prefer finance jobs in large corporations, while others wish to hang out their own shingles and establish privately-run firms. Whatever the case, following are some of the most popular career options in financial planning and wealth management.
Certified Financial Planner
One thing I learned when searching for a financial adviser is that certification is important. Certification means that the adviser has completed a board-registered educational program, earned a bachelor’s degree, passed the certification exam, worked in the financial planning industry for at least three years, and passed the background check. According to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, only those who go through their program can use the Certified Financial Planner logo and designation.
A Certified Financial Planner might earn anywhere from $45,748 to $75,919, according to PayScale.com, though income can be much higher depending on whether you work for a firm or for yourself. You will be responsible for helping people reach their financial goals through investments, savings, and other methods.
It is easy to get confused when evaluating careers in finance because many of the jobs sound similar to one another. A financial analyst, for example, shares some of the same duties with financial planners, but they are actually different career choices. A financial analyst’s primary role is to research market trends and make recommendations with regard to specific investments.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, financial analysts earn a median salary of $84,780. They also earn money through performance bonuses and profit sharing models, which can significantly improve their income. It is also possible for financial analysts to further specialize (e.g. investment bankers, ratings analysts).
Portfolio management is one of the most stressful finance career options. These professionals are responsible for managing the investment pool for a particular fund, and will make decisions on behalf of each individual investor. Hedge fund managers are an example of specialized portfolio managers.
These professionals can make upwards of $140,000 per year, according to PayScale, but again, the higher income is directly correlated to the stress of the job. Portfolio managers must often manage groups of employees and are frequently in contact with their clients.
A stock broke is like a used car salesman. He’s trying to get you to trade in your old beat-up sedan for a brand-new SUV, and he’s responsible for making money for the dealership. Except, in the case of the stock broker, the commodity is stocks rather than cars. He’s responsible for knowing how and when to buy certain stocks, and convincing his clients to invest in the stocks he believes will perform.
The salary for a stock broker varies widely. While salary can range from $35,741 to $59,018 according to PayScale, commissions make up the majority of a stock broker’s income, and can be higher than $200,000 per year.
This is a finance job with which most people don’t have much experience. A private banker works only with clients who possess extremely high net worths (generally over $2 million), and may see to each client’s every financial need. This includes inheritance planning, investment advising, tax preparation, and other services.
Most private bankers work for large-scale banks and have very specific client lists. According to GlassDoor.com, private bankers can earn well over $100,000 per year, depending on where they work.
Certified Public Accountant
Many careers in financial planning and wealth management branch out into other industries, such as tax preparation. Certified public accountants (CPAs) earn between $48,183 and $70,797 on average, according to PayScale, and may be responsible for a wide range of services. Some are intimately involved in financial planning as well as tax preparation, while others stick with the latter.
There are also CPAs who conduct forensic audits or consult with businesses. It all depends on the direction in which you want to take your career. Those involved in financial planning help their customers make smart investments and find bigger deductions to help with wealth management.
Finding Careers in Finance
If you know you want to work in the financial industry, it’s important to play to your strengths. Where will you do the most good?
If you like working with people, you might be best at a career as a financial planner, stock broker, or personal banker. If you’d rather work behind the scenes, consider a career as a financial analyst. Keep in mind, however, that the more education you have, the higher your income potential.