There are almost 91,000 Certified Financial Planners globally. Almost HALF of all CFPs are older than 50 and 25% are over 60! If you are a talented young adult with a passion for providing financial clarity, the wealth management world is ripe with opportunity for you.
I’m an open book about why I love being a financial advisor. You can read my “origins story” HERE or listen to it on this podcast. Better yet, email me and ask me about it! To summarize, people’s lives are better when their money is actually working towards accomplishing their dreams. I love that I get to be part of that.
It discourages me when I hear about the shortage of talented advisors available to help people. There are specific personality traits that make someone a good advisor, but today I want to focus on what it takes to become a CFP. You can use this to start investigating if it might be right for you!
As you can see, a bachelor’s degree is required before you can sit for the CFP exam. Your degree does NOT have to be in finance. However, if your education does not satisfy CFP requirements, you will need to complete extra coursework. Unfortunately, most college programs do NOT satisfy board requirements. Don’t fear though – I took 7 courses online after I already had my degree to satisfy the requirements. It is doable!!
Here’s where you can search for registered programs: https://www.cfp.net/get-certified/certification-process/education-requirement
If you are in Ohio, here is the list of universities with registered programs:
Bowling Green State University
John Carroll University
Mount Vernon Nazarene University – Jetter School of Professional Studies
Ohio State University
University of Akron
University of Cincinnati
Wright State University
Youngstown State University
Once your education is complete, you study for the exam WHILE you get your work experience. I studied a lot, but I enjoyed the material because it applied to real-life situations I was facing with clients. Since I worked in a financial planning office for 4 years and participated in most clients’ meetings, I had most of the work experience I needed by the time I passed my exam. 6,000 hours. However, if you work closely with a financial advisor in an apprenticeship situation, you can do it in 4,000 hours.
Overall, expect the CFP process to take you 2 – 4 years. Trust me, they’re years well spent. If you are at the right firm, you will be learning tons along the way.
Should you get a financial advisor job right away?
I didn’t. I’m glad I didn’t.
I started as a client service manager where I prepared forms, called clients to answer questions, handled transactions, and most importantly – I sat in on all client meetings to take notes and assist the advisor where needed. I soaked it up like a sponge. It was a great, low-pressure way of getting into the field.
Above, I listed some pros and cons to going the “direct” route of becoming a financial advisor vs. the “alternative” route of working in operations first, like I did.
Really, the cons of starting in a financial advisor role are that you HAVE to find the right firm; otherwise, you might be put in a position where you are selling specific products to clients for commission. It’s worth the extra time and effort to find a fiduciary firm that makes recommendations based on what’s best for the client’s investments and goals. Also, you might not be taken seriously by clients because of your youth (sorry – it happens), and you don’t know what you don’t know… Meaning, there is A LOT to know. That’s fine. None of us know it all. That’s why it’s important to learn and grow next to an experienced CFP, so you know how to find the answers.
So, as long as you can navigate those situations, I do encourage you to look for an entry-level financial advising role!
The cons to the alternative route, what I did, are that I didn’t build a financial planning network as quickly, and I really had to push myself. There was no boss pushing me to be a better financial advisor because I wasn’t one yet. I did my job as a client service associate while intentionally gathering the knowledge I needed to pursue my CFP.
This topic really deserves more conversation, and this short blog doesn’t do it justice. That said, it is a good place to start. Go to CFP.net to learn more about the industry and email me with your questions!