Career Choice: Personal Financial Advisor

Career Choice: Personal Financial Advisor
  • Opening Intro -

    If you are a business major with a talent for money management, a career as a personal financial advisor may be right for you.


Financial advisors provide guidance to their customers including for the purchase of real estate, insurance, securities and investments, with a eye for addressing a client’s particular needs. Financial advisors take into consideration each person’s tax status, cash flow and financial objectives, to provide customized solutions.


Financial advisors meet with their clients to determine individual financial needs to develop a personalized financial plan. The advisor will consider several matters including current income, tax status, risk tolerance, investment goals and long-term planning. Personal financial advisors discuss investment options, make recommendations or may refer clients to others to help them meet their financial objectives.

Advisors establish portfolios, periodically review the same and will stay in contact with clients to keep them apprised of potential changes. Personal financial advisors develop reports, provide financial documentation and project income.


A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is usually required to work as a personal financial advisor, with about one-third having at least a master’s degree. Most professionals have a finance degree or a background in accounting, tax law, business management or economics. Courses in estate planning, risk management, investment and taxation are beneficial.

Those professionals dealing in securities, stocks, insurance or offer investment advice must be licensed. Certification as a Certified Financial Planner can enhance the career aspirations of the personal financial advisor.


The average annual salary for personal financial advisors was $66,580 as of 2011 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Advisors in the 10th percentile earned $32,800 per year on average, while those in the 25th percentile made $43,200 per year. The median income was $66,600 in 2011. Those in the 75 percentile earned $111,900 per year while advisors in the 90th percentile earned at least $187,200 per year.

Top average pay for personal financial advisors of $108,100 per year was earned by New Yorkers in 2011. Those in Connecticut averaged $101,300 per year followed by Massachusetts professionals that earned $85,200 per year on average. On the bottom of the pay spectrum was West Virginia where advisors earned just $37,600 per year on average. New Mexico, Oregon and Missouri were among the other states with salary averages well below the national average.

Job Outlook

The BLS has forecast a sharp rise in employment for personal financial advisors, projecting a 32 percent increase from 2010 to 2020. As baby boomers age, the need for qualified professionals to offer advice will only increase.

Approximately one in five personal financial advisors is self-employed. Most, however, work for finance and insurance companies including brokerage companies, investment firms and banks. Each area of employment is expected to provide significant employment opportunities through 2020.


O*Net OnLine: 13-2052.00 — Personal Financial Advisors

US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Personal Financial Advisors —

See AlsoCareer Choice: Actuary


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Categories: Career Planning