How To Become a Financial Advisor: A Complete Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many people work with financial advisors to reach their financial goals and plan for their future. Financial advisors use their knowledge of the financial industry to help their clients implement saving strategies and make smart decisions with their money. If you are passionate about accounting and business, then you may be interested in pursuing a career as a financial advisor. In this article, we explore how to become a financial advisor and answer some frequently asked questions about financial advisors.

What does a financial advisor do?

Financial advisors help clients manage their finances and meet their financial goals. They provide advice about investing, estate planning, retirement planning and saving for large expenses, such as property or higher education. Some of the most common job duties of a financial advisor include:

  • Discussing financial goals with clients: Financial advisors typically begin working with clients by learning about their financial situation and objectives, such as their savings timelines.

  • Developing financial plans: After learning about clients' goals, financial advisors help clients plan for objectives, often by recommending investments.

  • Monitoring clients' financial situations: Once they start working with a client, financial advisors track their investment portfolios to monitor performance and recommend changes when necessary.

  • Marketing services to clients: Financial advisors are often responsible for building their own client rosters, which requires attending events, teaching seminars and networking with potential clients.

  • Buying and selling financial products: Some financial advisors buy and sell stocks, bonds and other financial products on behalf of clients.

Related: What Is an Investment Banker? Definition and Career Advice

Average salary for a financial advisor

The average base salary for a financial advisor is ₹2,99,067 per year. The amount you earn as a financial advisor may vary based on your education level, work experience and skill set. Where your job is located and the cost of living in your area may also impact your salary.

How to become a financial advisor

Here are some steps you can follow to begin your career as a financial advisor:

1. Obtain a bachelor's degree

If you plan to become a financial advisor, first obtain a bachelor's degree in finance or a related field to prepare for your career. Some popular degrees for financial advisors include:

  • Accounting: Pursuing this major helps you master concepts like financial planning, auditing and cost accounting. Coursework can include classes on payroll accounting, financial statement auditing and business statistics.

  • Business: This major can prepare you for a successful career in financial administration. You can expect to take courses on business ethics, principles of finance and managerial finance.

  • Economics: Pursuing this degree allows you to learn about business administration, financial markets and economic theory. Coursework usually includes classes on macroeconomics, statistics and econometrics.

  • Finance: This degree can help you master concepts like securities, investments and financial management. You can expect to take classes on security valuation, investment portfolios and financial markets.

2. Apply for internships

Next, apply for an internship with a financial organisation to gain experience selling different financial products, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds and insurance policies. During your internship, you may work closely with senior advisors so you can learn about the company's standard operating procedures, how to develop high-performing investment portfolios and network with clients. Completing an internship can help you gain the work experience you need to become a licensed financial advisor.

3. Register with the Securities and Exchange Board of India

Before you can buy or sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds or insurance policies as a financial advisor, you must register with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). You can register as an individual, a corporate firm or a partnership firm by completing the following certifications through the National Institute of Securities Market (NISM), which is an educational institute established by SEBI:

  • NISM Series-X-A: Investment Advisor (Level 1)

  • NISM Series-X-B: Investment Advisor (Level 2)

Once you complete these certifications, you can obtain the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) credential by filling out an online application with SEBI and submitting a cover letter detailing your experience and business plan. This credential allows you to charge your clients fees in exchange for your investment advice.

4. Pursue additional certifications

There are several additional certifications you may pursue depending on what financial products you plan to sell. Here are some of the most common certifications available:

  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): This course is one of the most popular options for financial advisors and considered comparable to the five-year Masters of Business Administration in finance. Earning a CFA credential can help you improve your financial skill set, build trust with your clients and earn the respect of potential employers.

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP): The certified financial planner course focuses on asset management, tax planning, estate planning, insurance planning, and general knowledge of the financial industry. If you plan to help your clients manage their assets and maintain their wealth, consider enrolling in this programme.

  • Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA): This internationally recognised certification can equip you with advanced knowledge of the finance market. By completing a CAIA course, you can learn how to assess alternative investments, such as venture capital, hedge funds and private equity.

  • Financial Risk Manager (FRMN): If you plan to specialise in risk management, the FRMN certification may be the right choice for you. This course prepares financial advisors to offer advice to private clients and develop strategies to help them reach their financial goals while mitigating potential risks.

  • Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor (CMFC): If you plan to sell mutual funds, register to take the CMFC to become an expert in this area. This 10-week long course focuses on different types of mutual funds and packaged investment products.

  • Insurance Regulatory Department Authority of India (IRDA): If you plan to sell insurance as a financial advisor, register to take the IRDA examination for life insurance and general insurance. This course can help you learn how to protect the interest of policyholders, identify insurance fraud and offer the right insurance packages for your clients based on their needs.

Related: Understanding the CFA Exam

5. Apply for jobs

Once you have registered with SEBI and earned the certifications necessary for your desired role as a financial advisor, create a well-written resume that highlights your skills and qualifications to impress potential employers. List all the formation education you have completed along with any relevant work experience you have accumulated.

After honing your resume, use a search engine to look for financial advisor jobs that match your preferred location, qualifications and skill set. You can also reach out to any professional contacts you made during your undergraduate programme or related job roles to ask if they know of any firms that are currently hiring financial advisors. If one of your professional contacts refers you to an employer, it can set you apart from other candidates and make your application more memorable.

Related: 6 Universal Rules for Resume Writing

Skills for financial advisors

Here are some skills you can develop to become an excellent financial advisor:

  • Interpersonal skills: Having good interpersonal skills can help you build trust with your clients and establish long-term professional relationships with them. It can also help you network with people who may need your services, which can help you acquire new clients.

  • Research and critical thinking: Financial advisors are responsible for researching what the best investment opportunities are for each of their clients. Honing your critical-thinking skills can help you assess your clients' financial goals and make strategic investments to help them reach them.

  • Problem-solving: Developing your problem-solving skill set can help you adapt to unforeseen circumstances and optimise your client's investments to help them mitigate risk and recover from financial challenges. Familiarise yourself with new financial products as they emerge in the market and study different problem-solving strategies to hone this skill.

  • Business development skills: Having a background in business development can help you identify key performance objectives and track each of the financial investments you oversee. It can also help you negotiate the price of different financial products to get your clients the best deal.

  • Wealth management: A good financial advisor uses their industry knowledge to develop strategies for their clients to maintain and accumulate wealth. Familiarise yourself with a wide variety of investment opportunities and financial products so you can provide the best advice to your clients.

Related: Analytical Skills: Definition, Tips and Examples

Financial advisor FAQs

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about becoming a financial advisor:

What hours do financial advisors typically work?

Most financial advisors work 40 hours per week during standard business hours, which is usually 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some work additional hours during evenings or on weekends. They may also adapt their work schedule to meet the needs of their clients.

What is a financial advisor's work environment like?

Financial advisors typically work in offices. They use computers to research investments and buy or sell stocks and bonds. They also use phones or email to communicate with their clients. Financial advisors may meet with clients outside of the office or attend networking events to attract new clients.

Do financial advisors need a master's degree?

Financial advisors are not required to have a master's degree. However, if you earn a graduate degree, you can further refine your expertise and skills, better position yourself for a leadership role in financial management and increase your earning potential.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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