Helping people manage and invest their money is the job of financial advisers. While those in the financial services industry may have high-level degrees and certifications, without sales skills, all the education and training are nothing more than wall decorations.
A Sales Career in Financial Services
When it comes to investments, retirements, and children's education, people want to work with a professional adviser and not a sales person who may be compensated for selling specific investments, mutual funds or stocks. When an investment goes south, it is much easier for an adviser to calm the nerves of an investor than for a sales professional to accomplish the same task.
Whatever the titles may be, every successful financial adviser understands that they have both a responsibility to understand market trends and how to effectively "sell" services and investment vehicles to customers. Those in the financial field who don't accept that they are sales professionals, usually end up in analyst roles or in a different career field.
In order to sell financial securities, financial advisers must be licensed. The most commonly held certifications are the Series 6,7 and 63. These certifications allow an adviser to sell mutual funds, annuities, bonds, retirement vehicles and individual stocks. Many advisers also hold insurance certifications, such as life, accident, and health.
As challenging as the series 6,7 and 63 exams may be, they are usually considered entry-level certifications in the financial services industry. For those committed to long-term success as a financial planner or adviser, continued learning and certifications are practically mandatory.
Many financial advisers earn their CFA and the CFP certifications. CFA stands for Certified Financial Analyst and CFP stands for Certified Financial Planner. Both are highly regarded certifications and aren't usually earned until several years into a financial services career.
Beyond these certifications, some in the industry study and earn the ChFC, or Chartered Financial Consultant. According to financial services expert Donna Rodgers:
A Chartered Financial Consultant must have at least 3 years of work experience in the financial services industry. The ChFC® prepares professionals to manage the needs of individuals, families and small business. According to American College, ChFCs earn 51 percent more than their peers.
The income bump alone may inspire many to earn this certification and the added benefit of increased respect from peers and customers.
The Challenges and The Rewards
Practically every Main Street in America has at least 1 financial services office, filled with either a single adviser or a team of advisers, actively seeking new customers and to retain their existing clients. Most every bank offers financial services as do most insurance agencies. Add to this list the availability of financial services offered by Internet-based companies and you will soon understand that the financial services industry is very competitive.
The other main challenge is governmental compliance mandates and regulations that each and every financial planner must adhere to. Violate a law and your licenses are suspended or revoked.
For those that can overcome the competition, are devoted to earning the required and optional certifications, and who conduct all their business with integrity, the rewards are incredible. Top financial planners can earn several hundred thousands of dollars per year, as well as incentives, vacations, and a slew of awards.
The career is certainly one of the hardest to be successful in, which is the reason most quit after only a few years. The true rewards are given to those who remain in the career for 2 or more years and are willing to work long hours and face lean months until they begin reaping the benefits.