Financial Advisor Inquiry
November 4, 2011 10:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm a 33 year old male who has been interested in being a Financial Advisor since the 7th grade. I've an undergraduate degree in Finance with a CIS option and am currently 1/2 way through my MBA. I really want to become a FA but I'm a little nervous about starting from scratch, selling to my friends and family, and walking around town knocking on doors to sell although I've been told that I am a very likeable person who would be great at this.

I'm currently talking to my professor about blending the CFA coursework and certificate into my MBA. I would like to earn my 63 and 7 licenses at my own pace then begin a career as either an assistant to a FA or as a FA with a small book of clients already established.

I've been working for an education company directly under the COO for the past seven years as an executive assistant, financial/business analyst, and project manager. When working for a small company you seem to wear a different hat daily and work in variety of positions. I'd be happy to pass on my resume to someone if that would help in "critiquing" me.

It would be ideal if I could keep my current job while exploring the FA profession and working or doing this part time on the side until I'm 100% ready to make the move although I realize this may be impossible.

Thoughts? Advice? Suggestions on what I should read or study? Best places to start looking for a job? Any firms that best fit my criteria? Thank you!
posted by Paalen to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Being a financial adviser is more about sales than having proper finance degrees like you are acquiring. Some of the best financial advisers I knew didn't even have BA degrees. You may be almost overqualified for just being a regular FA.

A key will be when you interview, ask how you are supposed to generate leads. Will you have a mentor that gives you his D list clients to work on? (that's ideal). Will you be expected to cold call? Will you be expected to sell your own personal contacts? Ask these questions explicitly. Generally, the higher caliber the firm, the more institutional support they will give you (think Merrill, Morgan Stanley etc.) compared to smaller insurance firms that will expect you to sell your own contacts.

Many people start part-time, so I can't imagine that being too much of a problem. Being a FA is all about producing business. You can work 5 hours per week if you are hitting your targets, no one cares. Also, CFA is more critical than MBA for being a FA, along with your Series 7, obviously. There are other career routes available to someone with your qualifications too. You may look into institutional sales or distribution with a major asset manager (basically selling the firm's products to FAs for use in their platforms). You can search major asset managers like Vanguard, Alliance Bernstein, T Rowe Price and see what jobs they have open for a better idea of the qualifications needed.

Good luck, it's a difficult field but there is a lot of opportunity out there if you are dedicated.
posted by the foreground at 11:41 AM on November 4, 2011

You can't earn your 63 and 7 on your own, you can study for the exam on your own, but the licensed must be housed with a brokerage or similar entity. There are many firms that employ CFAs and assistants where you could work to get started - Ameriprise, AXA Equitable, Edward Jones and many, many independent fee-only financial planners. Most financial planners don't have CFAs by the way. You can also work with any investment management company, from Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch to Schwab, etc. Many places pay a base salary while you're learning your trade and building a book of business. You can learn a lot regardless of where you go, even from brokers and even if that's not what you want to eventually do - researching and analyzing securities, conducting client presentations, managing clients, trading securities, managing stock, bond, cash and multi-currency portfolios. I wouldn't recommend too much time in operations but even that's helpful in the beginning.

The CFA gives you a great deal of credibility but IIRC, it also requires some financial services experience. People are often very willing to do informational interviews, you just have to ask and always follow up with a thank you note.

I would recommend that you find a job in financial services, even if it isn't exactly what you want. You need to be around some aspect of money management learning the ins and outs.
posted by shoesietart at 11:46 AM on November 4, 2011

CFAs are rare among financial planners... I usually see CFAs as the guys who work in mutual fund companies and the like. I don't know any financial planners who are CFAs.

You should build experience as an associate/assistant to an established advisor in a good firm. I gave some similar advice in another thread a few days ago... here, but I'm not sure how much of it applies to you.

It will be drastically different from what you've been doing.
posted by smitt at 1:00 PM on November 4, 2011

It would be ideal if I could keep my current job while exploring the FA profession and working or doing this part time on the side until I'm 100% ready to make the move although I realize this may be impossible.

Quick note in regards to this: Every FI I've worked for has expressed that I cannot have any side activities to my duties as an advisor unless expressly approved of. Every position has had me sign off on "Outside Business Activities" forms.
posted by smitt at 1:04 PM on November 4, 2011

bank bank BANK! Work as a bank FA, there's a steady supply of clients walking in the door, which gives you time to ramp up your sales skills. There's not much in prestige, but you'll be able to build a book.
posted by leotrotsky at 3:38 PM on November 4, 2011

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