Becoming a financial advisor doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but it does require time and effort. If you haven’t already, consider the investment you’re making in your career and the long-term benefits and rewards of this profession. You may not only be setting yourself up for financial success, but you can do the same for your clients. If you are ready to start your journey to becoming a financial advisor, we have compiled a list of ways to reduce costs to minimize monetary obstacles.
Utilize financial aid and scholarship opportunities
Just like any other educational program, financial aid, and scholarship opportunities are available for those who want to become financial advisors. But before we get into these opportunities, what level of education is required to be a financial advisor?
First, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree typically is required to become a financial advisor, though some employers prefer a master’s degree. It is best to have a business degree with a concentration in finance, but that is not necessary. In addition to higher education, there are licenses that financial advisors need in order to practice which are obtained by passing a series of exams.
Financial aid and scholarship opportunities for higher education degrees vary by school. Research which financial aid or scholarship options you qualify for at the school you have chosen to attend. In addition, some private businesses offer scholarships for students looking to enter certain fields. For example, TD Ameritrade’s Institutional NextGen Scholarship awards $5,000 to 12 college students who are pursuing an education in financial advising.
Certification and licensing exams can cost hundreds of dollars. However, there are scholarship options for certifications just like schooling. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board) offers several scholarship options for students pursuing a certification in financial advising.
Education is notoriously expensive in the US, but with a little bit of research and time filling out applications, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Gain hands-on experience and training
You don’t have to wait until you graduate to jumpstart your financial profession. You can join extracurricular activities that will immerse you in the financial field, and look good on your resume too! If you’re a student, look for clubs on campus for future financial advisors or a closely related field. You can get involved in tax return preparation, take the enrolled agent exam, or get an internship in the banking field. By getting early experience, you will have a significant advantage when applying for jobs.
Utilize available resources and tools
Just like scholarships, there are various resources and tools available for you to become a financial professional, all while saving money in the process. Look for websites, forums, YouTube channels, or blogs (like this one!) that are focused on the financial advising field. You can easily engage with the industry from the comfort of your own home for free. You can see what is happening in the field and equip yourself with information that will help you in your future career.
Additionally, look into tools that will help your work be more efficient. This can be software, apps, or online systems made specifically for financial advisors. For example, the Vanguard Retirement Next Egg Calculator allows users to get an idea of what their long-term investments need to look like in order to meet their financial goals. Something as simple as utilizing Google alerts will help keep you on track for free.
Seeking out mentorship and guidance from experienced professionals
Networking is the best way to succeed in any profession, especially financial advising. Finding an established financial advisor who is willing to show you the ropes can be the key to your success. But how can you make that happen?
Before you find a mentor, you need to first establish your personal goals. What do you want to accomplish? If you don’t know what you need help with, a mentor won’t be able to help you. Make sure to take a business-like approach to finding a mentor. This is a professional relationship, so you should act as such.
You can start looking for a mentor within your current circle. Is there a professor or college advisor that you connect with and look up to? Is there someone you know whose job you want? Start there. If not, do some research and find out who does have the job you want. That person will be able to tell you exactly how they got to their position.
Once you have chosen someone who you believe would be a good mentor for you and your goals, approach them casually. Although this is a professional relationship, it still needs to progress over time. Set up an initial meeting time and see how it goes. It’s just like a first date; you wouldn’t propose right away, would you?
Once you have your initial meeting, set a reminder for yourself to follow up with them regularly and schedule subsequent conversations. You can use social media to stay connected with them and share light interactions like an article or a book you think they might find interesting. If you want to discuss details of your career, however, save that for face-to-face interactions. You can even send them a thank you note or holiday card to let them know you value them and your relationship. It adds a personal, old-school touch.
Becoming a financial advisor has many steps that come with many payments. However, there are ways to cut costs along the way. Look into scholarships and financial aid programs for schooling and certifications. Use your time to gain experience by joining clubs or getting internships/jobs in the financial industry. Seek out available resources and tools to support your work as an up-and-coming financial advisor. Lastly, and potentially most importantly, seek out mentorship from someone in the field who can act as a catalyst for your career. With time and effort, you can enter the financial advising field in a financially friendly way.