What Does it Mean to Study Financial Planning?
Financial planning is a branch of the finance advising field that caters to individual clients rather than corporations or businesses. Financial planners collaborate with a client to present a set of strategies aimed at his or her financial future - looking at where their money is going and why. Many financial planners work with the same client for years, revising plans according to the economy, helping to reach long- and short-term goals, and providing informed advice.
A good financial planner understands investments, taxes, estate planning issues, expense control, debt reduction, and individual risk tolerance. The most successful planners are good with mathematics, computers, analysis, and problem-solving. This work can be done within a company or as a sole proprietor. Financial planners who work on their own should have strong entrepreneurial skills.
A financial planning career can be both rewarding and lucrative. Financial planners are in higher-than-average demand and will play an increasingly essential economic role as the population ages and people become more aware of the importance of qualified financial guidance.
Types of Financial Planning Degrees
A business degree in financial planning is strongly preferred for financial planners. The completion of your degree is often intended to lead directly towards the financial planner certifications; once you've graduated, you are eligible to sit for the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) Certification Examination.
Certificate Programs in Financial Planning
Financial planning certificate programs are designed to prepare you for the Certificate in Financial Planning (CFP) or Registered Financial Consultants (RFC) designations. Certification is terrific training to be a financial planner by trade. While you're not required to obtain your CFP, an increasingly sophisticated consumer market makes it advantageous to do so, in order to remain competitive. Online degrees and certificate programs in financial planning have become increasingly popular as professionals in this competitive field look to improve their resumes without losing valuable work experience. These courses are designed for students with previous business education -- in some cases an MBA (Master of Business Administration) is preferred -- or considerable experience in finance. Successful completion of the program shows you have mastered the skills and knowledge needed to advance in the financial planning field.
Financial Planning Degrees Certification and Licensure
Certification indicates to your client that you have extensive training and competency in financial planning. The criteria for the CFP are based on the four E's--experience, education, examination, and ethics--as introduced by the Certified Financial Board of Standards, Inc. You must have a bachelor's degree to attain CFP certification. The RFC, a new designation in financial planning, is awarded by the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants.
Many financial planners maintain multiple credentials, such as the RFC, CFP, ChFC, CPA, CLU, and CPCU. An example of a typical financial consulting career path is to complete the financial planning certificate to obtain your RFC designation, then to establish your own financial consulting business to meet CFP certification experience requirements, and as you build your career, go for your CFP certification.
Financial planners who will be selling stocks, bonds, mutual funds, insurance, or real estate will need to obtain professional licenses according to regional regulation.