Career Guide: What Can I Do With An Accounting Degree?

Personal Financial Planner

Job Description:

Personal financial planners advise individuals or families on their short-term and long-term financial goals and provide help with investments, estate planning, taxes, and insurance decisions. They recommend investments based on a the financial needs of a client. Many financial planners or advisors are licensed to buy and sell financial products, including stocks, bonds, annuities, and insurance, and may do so, with permission, on behalf of their clients. Financial planners who work for especially wealthy individuals with a lot of money to invest are known as private bankers or wealth managers.

For entry-level work, financial planners need at least a bachelor's degree, ideally in a related field such as finance, economics, accounting, business, or mathematics. A master's or professional certification can help with career opportunities and advancement. Financial planners will need to be licensed in order to buy and sell stocks, bonds, or insurance policies. Licenses to sell insurance are issued by state boards.
Median Salary:
Financial planners with financial investment or planning firms or who are self-employed may earn part of their salary by charging a percentage on the assets they manage or from commissions for the financial products they sell. Bonuses are typically paid out to financial planners employed by a firm. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2012, the states with the highest level of employment of personal financial planners were New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Illinois. The top paying states included Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts.
Job Outlook:

Projected to grow 32% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS.

Personal financial planners are expected to experience faster-than-average job growth over the next seven years. The needs of an aging population are the primary source of this projected rise in employment. As more and more citizens enter retirement age, corporations and the government are also decreasing state pensions and personal benefits, driving the need for experts in personal financial planning to explain options and assist the elderly in managing their finances. More than a quarter of personal financial advisors work in 'other financial investment activities', which includes the many self-employed professionals in this field, according to the BLS. While many are attracted to the possibility of high income and minimal formal education requirements in this occupation, candidates with advanced professional skills and a large private client base may have an advantage over the competition.

Continuing Education:

Many professional development options are out there, specifically for personal financial planners. Once they have obtained their standard CPA certification, many professionals in this field opt for additional specific certification, and are required to maintain these credentials with regular continuing education. The American Institute of CPAs offers an abundance of resources to complete continuing education for the personal financial planning (PFP) and personal financial specialist (PFS) credentials. These professional development programs are tailored to this discipline of accounting, including course work in estates, retirements, investments, insurance, and taxes. While continuing education is mandatory to maintain certification and state licensure, students involved in training programs that build lucrative skills sets may also allow them to take advantage of enhanced career opportunities.