Ask Money

A financial planning career

Chris Farrell Apr 15, 2011

Question: I just received my BA in liberal arts last year, but only now do I know what I want to do with it. After realizing how much of a personal finance geek I am, I think financial advisor would be the perfect career for me. I’m good at math, and have no debt. But how does one go about this path? Do I get another undergraduate degree? Do I get a Masters in Accounting? How do I get hired? Kelsey, Hampton, VA

Answer: I wouldn’t get any additional education at the moment. What I would do is talk to as many financial planners in your area as your coffee budget will allow.

For example, go to the website of the Financial Planning Association and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors to find certified financial planners in your area. The CFP credential demonstrates that the advisor is prepared to deal with all aspects of financial and life planning. Many of these planners work in independent financial planning outfits. They tend to work with the well-heeled.

I would also seek out the manager of the local Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Ameriprise, and similar brokerage and money management operation. Talk to the manager about their training programs and career paths. What is their background. What is there advice for you?

I’d also seek out a job during these conversations The finance business is up and odds are you’ll get a job offer out of one or more of the informational meetings. A job would give you an inside view into kind of personal finance career you’ll want to pursue.

Does anyone have additional ideas from their experience? Thanks.

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