Career of a Financial Consultant
Financial consulting seems to be an ordinary accounting-related career, which does not presuppose taking serious risks or having some extraordinary cases. However, the reality demonstrates that consultants and advisors became extremely valuable nowadays as they play an important part in their clients’ lives. Personal financial planning became the earnest of future success. For this reason, not only large funds management companies adhere to the help of financial consultants, but also individual businesses and even personalities apply to the help of professionals in this sphere. In order to understand the peculiarities of financial consultant career, one needs to conduct a research, evaluating all accessible evidence. The paper will focus on the day-to-day activities of the job, the prospects it offers the society, its effect on people, benefits of the career, required education and degrees, required licenses, credentials, and other aspects of the profession.
Importance of the Occupation
Financial consultant is an important job without which the present-day world cannot function in a proper way. Every more or less successful profit organization or company uses the services a financial advisor provides. Many people think that this job is not needed, it is just a waste of money, and everyone is smart enough to take care of his or her own finances. However, the practice shows that, in most cases, people do not know the correct way to invest their money or to plan the expenses to start making savings. At this point, people who really take care of their savings, income, and financial stability address a financial advisor to obtain the specialist’s advice. According to the data provided by National Careers Service, a financial consultant is a professional helping his or her clients to choose those services and products that would be the most appropriate for satisfying their current requirements and needs and ensuring their benefit for future as well. A financial consultant gives recommendations about some benefits and guarantees a person might have after the retirement, possible ways to invest money, insurance programs, mortgages, savings, and many other aspects (National Careers Service). Moreover, this specialist joins the results of asset managers’ work and the needs of ordinary people (“The Next 10 Years for Advisers” 34). Even though there is evidence that over the last few years financial consultants rather often fail in their planning and predictions (“The Next 10 Years for Advisers” 34), their work is still important. An average person without special education or experience of working in the sphere of financial consultancy is hardly aware of all details attributed to these aspects, so in order to make the right choice, one needs to consult a professional. Being provided with all information needed, the client can compare all available options and make a decision that will lead to acquiring the highest benefit. Therefore, financial consultant’s work is important in people’s lives.
Day-to-Day Activities of a Consultant
Financial consultants have many different professional responsibilities. On a daily basis, most specialists working in the sphere usually communicate a lot with their clients about their problems, questions, possibilities, current financial situation, and plans for the future (National Careers Service). In addition, a financial planner is responsible for keeping “up to date on all income tax regulations” (Leonard 183). Therefore, one of the consultant’s day-to-day activities is learning and reading the financial news in order to ensure that he or she is fully aware of all recent changes and that the clients receive accurate information. Moreover, an advisor should study different financial products (National Careers Service) as the scope of his or her responsibilities is not limited to tax consulting. Along with communication with the client and self-education, a consultant has to produce reports on his or her activity, keep detailed records of every operation and every recommendation given to the client and negotiate with the product providers (National Careers Service) because sometimes the services are not full or the articles of the possible future contract on some investment or mortgage are vague. Another activity that a financial consultant should do on a regular basis is informing the clients about the investments, changes in the interests, real estate prices in case the customer decides to invest in his or her own property, possible changes in the prices of shares, and many other aspects the client should know in order to predict the future development of the financial situation and avoid financial losses (National Careers Service). If an advisor works for a consulting company, he or she is usually required to make a certain number of sales to meet performance targets. Along with changes in the financial sphere, a planner should be aware of the updates in other spheres such as law and education. As the regulations constantly change, the professional must be able to adjust to situations in very short terms and ensure that his or her clients are prepared to the consequences of the changes on the federal level. All in all, one needs to perform many day-to-day tasks to provide clients with the best services and become successful.
Prospects the Profession Offers to the Society
As any other occupation, a financial consultant offers some prospects to the society and individuals. These prospects can be either positive or negative. With regard to the benefits that financial advisors bring to people, one may assume that positive contributions exceed the negative ones. Sheila Leonard claims that everyone, including a financial consultant, needs a financial advisor (183). Moreover, she indicates that a financial advisor/consultant/planner is the most appropriate professional to consult with as his/her specialization is miles broader than that of an investment planner or broker (Leonard 183). Thus, another prospect that people working in financial consulting offer to people is the universality of their knowledge. Unlike insurance advisors, accountants or lawyers, financial planners are not limited to one sphere (National Endowment for Financial Education). They take all aspects into account, so people may save money, addressing only one professional who embraces many issues without paying each specialist working in some particular sphere of financial management. Moreover, advisors are always aware of the recent news, so any updates will be delivered to the client. In addition to planning investments, consultants can also provide assistance in cutting expenses on education, taking care of gathering needed information to get grants or scholarships for children of their clients (Clark 50). As one can see, financial advisors provide an essential assistance to people. Their skills enable them to help the clients avoid potentially critical situations, solve financial difficulties, protect savings, obtain additional income, and ensure their economic stability.
Despite all positive prospects that the profession offers the society, it also makes many negative contributions. As advisors give some recommendations to their clients and people usually follow these pieces of advice, it is possible to assume that a consultant has the power (potential) to influence the client (Davenport and Early 72). With regard to this fact, one may suppose that financial consultants should not always be trusted as they have an ability to influence people and some of their decisions can have extremely serious consequences. However, advisors can also give very useful recommendations (what, in fact, they do in the majority of cases) that might contribute to the clients’ prosperity and income growth. For this reason, it would be wrong to claim that financial consultants are not to be trusted and the prospects they offer the society are always negative. The evidence shows that the situation is quite opposite and advisor’s activity results in much more benefits than losses. Although financial consultants are reported to bring much profit to their clients and society in general, there are cases when advisors’ recommendations lead to fund losses, crisis, and worsening of the financial situation (Farrell 61). All people make mistakes, and financial consultants are not an exception. Letting their clients down, they suffer as well since their income falls and their economic situation becomes worse as well as that of people they consult. All in all, one may assume that negative aspects the society faces as a result of consultants’ activity stem from some drawbacks of the occupation. As the society has to accept the downsides that all professions possess, it learned to deal with the negative effects brought about by financial consulting.
Benefits of the Career
The career of a financial consultant might interest many people as it has many benefits. Person’s success directly depends on their preparedness to the new career because success in it depends only on the person (“The Edward Jones Financial Advisor Opportunity”). Many companies such as Edward Jones Investments, McKinsey & Company, the Boston Consulting Group, Inc., and many others offer the positions of financial advisors all over the world to people who really want to be involved in the sphere of finance management, investment, planning, and consulting. Though the occupation does not have the same benefits as, for instance, banker’s job does, it is characterized with many positive aspects. First of all, most companies ensure decent income and professional growth of their workers (“The Edward Jones Financial Advisor Opportunity”). According to the data provided by Bratcher, the average salary a financial consultant received in 2013 constituted approximately $75,000. Of course, salary might depend on income, but for financial advisors bonuses are more essential as the more clients a professional has, the higher bonuses he or she receives (Bratcher). Second, working as a financial consultant in some fund management company, one is a part of a team. Third, advisors communicate a lot, so there is a great choice for people who have a degree in business management and good communication skills. Finally, awareness of the sphere and all changes in the financial world constitute a personal benefit for people who work as financial advisors. Being fully informed about all details of the financial field, one knows what do to with his or her own money – how to save, invest, and get benefit from it. With regard to all these aspects, one may consider this occupation as a rather interesting option, which offers many benefits such as good income, professional growth, communication, team work, career satisfaction, essential knowledge, and many others.
Required Education, Licenses, and Credentials
A professional working in almost every sphere should have specialized education; therefore, financial consultants need to have some scientific degree, appropriate licenses, credentials, and recurring courses that ensure that the awareness of the subject is sustained and developed. As there are different types of financial advisors, the regulations regarding education and credentials each professional should have vary with the specialization. One common feature for all specializations is that a person cannot work as a consultant if he or she does not have special education. All guidelines for financial advisors require that a professional should be well-educated (Cull). Thus, a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) (a consultant whose major specialization refers to different investment options), for instance, should have an undergraduate degree, given by the university, accredited in financial consulting (CFA Institute 2). Apart from that, CFAs should pass 3 extremely complicated tests, each one lasting 6 hours “in sequence of at least a two-year period” (CFA Institute 2). Brokers do not have to follow such strict regulations as to receive a diploma, they have to pass the Series 7 exam (general test that checks person’s awareness of the specialization), be ready to pass the Series 63 exam, have a license of the state they work in, and regularly attend the courses they are assigned to, ensuring continuing education (CFA Institute 2). Chartered Financial Consultants (ChFC), similar to CFAs, have to meet extremely strict requirements to be allowed to work with this specialization. According to CFA Institute, ChFCs should pass eight different courses, have at least 3 years of experience, sustain continuous education, earning 30-hours credit every 2 years, and adhere to the ethical guidelines for financial consultants prepared by The American College (3). Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), in addition to having a university degree, need to pass a 10-hours exam (divided into 2 exam days and including the questions on such subjects as financial planning, investments, retirement and other types if planning (insurance or estate), and income taxation) (CFA Institute 3-4). As well as ChFCs, CFPs have to ensure continuous education. Other professionals working in the sphere of financial consulting have to adhere to similar requirements, which are unique for each specialization. Constant learning is an essential requirement for any consultant who wants to be successful. Learning is not only limited by studying the required subjects and becoming aware of the news, it also presupposes obtaining expertise in other spheres such as healthcare (Cutler 18). Knowledge of other spheres helps an advisor to guarantee the best quality of services he or she provides to the client. Having evaluated the aforementioned, one cannot doubt in the professionalism of financial advisors. Education, tests, credentials, and license requirements that consultants must meet are extremely diverse, but they ensure that people can trust their advisors.
To conclude, one can assume that the career of a financial consultant is important for the present-day society. An advisor should perform many tasks such as communicating with customers, studying financial products, documenting everything, and others to help the clients deal with their financial issues. This occupation has different benefits such as high salary, professional growth, and job satisfaction; for this reason, many people become interested in it. In order to be employed as a financial consultant, one should be able to meet some requirements: education, exams, licenses, credential, constant learning, and others. As any other profession, financial consulting offers some prospects to the society. The major part of these prospects is positive; however, one can also name a few negative ones. All in all, the career in financial consulting embraces many different aspects that one should be aware of before starting it.