Personal financial advisors held about 330,300 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of personal financial advisors were as follows:
|Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities||59%|
|Credit intermediation and related activities||15|
|Insurance carriers and related activities||3|
|Management of companies and enterprises||1|
Personal financial advisors typically work in offices. Some also travel to attend conferences, teach finance seminars in the evening, and attend networking events to bring in more clients.
Most personal financial advisors work full time and some work more than 40 hours per week. They also may go to meetings on evenings and weekends to meet with prospective or existing clients.
Personal financial advisors typically need a bachelor’s degree to enter the occupation. A master’s degree and certification may improve chances for advancement.
Personal financial advisors typically need a bachelor’s degree, although employers usually do not require a specific course of study. However, common fields of degree include business, social science, or mathematics. Courses in investments, taxes, estate planning, and risk management may be helpful.
After they are hired, personal financial advisors typically need on-the-job training to attain competency. During this time, new advisors work under the supervision of senior advisors and learn how to build a client network, develop investment portfolios, and perform other duties. This training usually lasts for more than a year.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Personal financial advisors who directly buy or sell stocks, bonds, or insurance policies, or who provide specific investment advice, may need a combination of licenses that varies with the products they sell. In addition to being required to have those licenses, advisors in small firms that manage clients’ investments must be registered with state regulators, and those in large firms must be registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Personal financial advisors who choose to sell insurance need licenses issued by state boards. Information on state licensing board requirements for registered investment advisors is available from the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA).
Certifications may enhance a personal financial advisor’s reputation and help bring in new clients. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards offers the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. For this certification, advisors must have a bachelor’s degree, complete coursework on financial planning through a CFP Board Registered Program, have relevant work experience, pass an exam, and agree to adhere to a code of ethics.
A master’s degree in a field such as finance or business administration may improve a personal financial advisor’s chances of becoming a financial manager and of attracting new clients.
Personal financial advisors typically have an interest in the Helping, Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.
If you are not sure whether you have a Helping or Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a personal financial advisor, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Personal financial advisors should also possess the following specific qualities:
Analytical skills. In determining an investment portfolio for a client, personal financial advisors must be able to take into account a range of information, including economic trends, regulatory changes, and the client’s comfort with risky decisions.
Interpersonal skills. A major part of a personal financial advisor’s job is making clients feel comfortable. Advisors must establish trust with clients and respond well to their questions and concerns.
Math skills. Personal financial advisors should be good at mathematics because they constantly work with numbers. They determine the amount invested, how that amount has grown or decreased over time, and how a portfolio is distributed among different investments.
Sales skills. To expand their base of clients, personal financial advisors must be convincing and persistent in selling their services.
Speaking skills. Personal financial advisors interact with clients every day. They must explain complex financial concepts in understandable language.
The median annual wage for personal financial advisors was $94,170 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $47,570, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.
In May 2021, the median annual wages for personal financial advisors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities||$99,970|
|Management of companies and enterprises||79,780|
|Credit intermediation and related activities||76,620|
|Insurance carriers and related activities||69,410|
Personal financial advisors who work for financial services firms are often paid a salary plus bonuses. Commissions, incentive pay, and production bonuses are included in the wage data here; nonproduction bonuses are not included.
Advisors who work for financial investment firms or financial planning firms or who are self-employed earn money for their services in one of two ways. They either charge a flat fee or earn commissions for the financial products that they sell.
Most personal financial advisors work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. They also may go to meetings on evenings and weekends to meet with existing clients or to try to bring in new ones.
Employment of personal financial advisors is projected to grow 15 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.
About 30,500 openings for personal financial advisors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
The primary driver of employment growth will be the aging population. As large numbers of baby boomers continue to retire, they are likely to seek planning advice from personal financial advisors. Also, longer lifespans will lead to longer retirement periods, further increasing demand for financial planning services.
In addition, the replacement of traditional pension plans with individual retirement accounts is expected to continue. Many people used to receive defined pension payments in retirement, but most companies no longer offer these plans. Therefore, individuals must save and invest for their own retirement, increasing the demand for personal financial advisors.
The availability of “robo-advisors,” computer programs that provide automated investment advice based on user inputs, may partially temper demand for personal financial advisors. However, the impact of this technology should be limited as consumers continue turning to human advisors for more complex and specialized investment advice over the projections decade.
For more information about personal financial advisors, visit
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
North American Securities Administrators Association
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards
Global Academy of Finance and Management