Financial planning is a career that requires a lot of education and has strict qualifications. If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in the financial planning industry, it’s important to know first what financial planning and how it differs from financial advising as well as what qualifications you would need in order to become a financial planner.
What Is Financial Planning?
Financial planning is the process of designing a personalized financial plan for clients. A financial plan should help a cliend meet specific financial goals, which can include the following:
- Purchasing for a home
- Planning for retirement
- Saving for a child’s education
- Estate planning
- And more
How Is a Financial Planner Different From a Financial Advisor?
While a financial advisor and financial planner may sound similar, they may have different qualifications and educational backgrounds. They typically also have different areas of expertise. Sometimes there is overlap between the two, but a financial advisor typically manages money for clients while a financial planner creates financial plans for clients to follow in order to meet specific financial goals.
What Are the Educational Requirements for Financial Planning?
If you want to be a financial planner, then you’ll have to get the right education. A bachelor’s degree in one of the following subjects is recommended:
While one of these subjects isn’t necessarily required in order to later qualify for a designation like CFP (certified financial planner), employers will look for education in one of those subjects. If your school offers courses in risk management, investing, estate planning, and taxes, it’s a good idea to take them.
After finishing at least a bachelor’s degree in an appropriate subject, financial planners should also earn certifications from an independent financial institution such as the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.
What Is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?
Certified financial planner, or CFP, is a designation that financial planners can earn that shows that they have expertise in the following areas:
- Retirement planning
- Estate planning
A CFP certification is earned via exam and is issued by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. It’s not a one-time thing, though. Once you pass the initial exam, you have to undergo continuing education programs annual in order to maintain the certification.
What Is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)?
Chartered financial analyst, or CFA, is another designation that professionals in the financial industry can earn. CFA is the best designation to earn for investment analysis, although it covers other topics as well, including economics, money management, accounting, ethics, and security analysis. Similarly to the CFP certification, there are exams required to earn a CFA designation, which is handed out by the CFA Institute.
What Is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)?
Chartered financial consultant, or ChFC, is a third designation that financial professionals can earn, this one by the American College of Financial Services. The ChFC designation indicates that you’ve undergone the American College’s comprehensive financial education course program, which includes seven required courses, two electives, exams, and practical experience.