A financial planner is a particular kind of financial analyst, who works with individuals to maximize their earnings with wise investment decisions, proper financial planning, retirement planning, insurance, tax, estate, and business succession planning.
Currently, it is thought that financial planners will be one of the largest-growing business careers between now and 2018. Business outlook professionals are looking at the aging baby-boomer generation, which is now nearing retirement age, to generate this figure. Since most individuals require the aid of personal financial planners around retirement, it stands to reason that the need for financial planners will increase.
As the name suggests, one of the financial planner’s primary goals is to review, evaluate, and revise individuals’ financial plans. In most cases, this is an involved and complex process, because of a number of reasons. For one, most people do not realize how their financial decisions impact each other. Second, there are periods in life that involve complex financial decisions, retirement being one of these. Third, becoming financially secure is – bottom line – a complex process, and one for which it can be extremely difficult to have an optimized plan, with expectations, budgets, financial goals, and financial choices laid out to the greatest benefit of the individual.
There are a number of paths to becoming a financial planner, with a range of educational and experience levels required for certification through the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. In order to qualify for certification, individuals need either a bachelor’s degree, an MBA, or a PhD in accounting, finance, economics, or business management, as well as three years of work experience in a financial role. The other path is to work for three years in finance, then to take a noncredit certificate program. The former option is better regarded, generally speaking, but financial planners rely on much more than their type of certification to qualify the level of their professional capacity.
At the undergraduate and graduate level, typical financial planning courses and prerequisites include: Fundamentals of Personal Financial Planning, Principles of Financial Analysis, Ethics for Financial Planners, Tax Planning, Estate Planning, Managing Employee Benefits, Retirement Planning, Investment Management, Fundamentals of Risk and Insurance.