Finance is often referred to as a shark’s world. While this may be
true for the layman, it is the task of financial advisors to know
how to negotiate these tricky waters on behalf of their clients.
The job of the personal advisor starts with a consultation with a client, where he notes down information about the client’s finances and goals. This then allows him to draw up a comprehensive plan, where key problems are identified and options are suggested for improvement. Afterwards, the advisor usually meets with the client once or twice a year, to give an update on the financial situation, and to enquire of any action on the client’s part, like marriage or retirement, which may affect the plan. The personal advisor can also, on behalf of his client, purchase and sell financial products like mutual funds or insurance, and is often responsible for drawing up taxes and preparing a client’s will. Personal finance advisors usually work from their own homes, and rely on word-of-mouth referrals.
Financial analysts usually work for banks, insurance companies, mutual and pension funds, securities firms, and other businesses. Their job is to help those companies make sound financial and investment decisions. They are responsible for reading the company’s financial statements, and for analyzing the prices, costs, sales, expenses and tax rates of a whole industry to determine the company’s value and project its future earnings. Such analysts are also needed in merger and acquisitions departments, to prepare analyses of the costs and benefits of a proposed merger or takeover.
A bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, business administration, or statistics, is usually required for finance advisors. Knowledge of accounting procedures, corporate budgeting, and financial analysis methods are often required of financial advisors, too. A master’s degree is often desirable in that case. Personal finance advisors are strongly recommended to posses a degree in accounting, finance, economics, business mathematics, or law.