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Leveraging your skills in a tight financial services jobs market

Editor's Note: This is part 2 of a series

The one constant in financial markets is change. The same could be said for jobs within the financial markets sector. Not only are specific jobs changing in terms of what skills you need in order to perform them, but job availability is continually shifting among financial job categories. For example, there may be fewer opportunities for securities analysts now than in the past, but there is an overwhelming need for wealth managers and financial advisors.

What if I told you that the same skills needed to be a successful financial analyst also apply to being a successful financial advisor? Financial analysts assess the performance of stocks, bonds, commodities, and other types of investments, skills generally employed by financial advisors.

Over the next five years, jobs for personal financial advisors will have grown 10% more than financial analyst jobs over 2006 levels.

Traditionally, there has been very little overlap between the two professions. In fact, relatively few financial analysts become financial advisors. Generally speaking, financial advisors and financial analysts are not required to hold a double accredited program degree or diploma; thus, there has been a recent transition toward accredited business school program exams and education that leads to degree and certification eligibility.

Interestingly it is convenient that the financial advisor and financial analysis jobs would start to merge as somebody who has completed a financial analyst designation will already have learned much of the material related to private banking or wealth management.

However, graduate professional designations such as the CWM certification which is awarded from the American Academy of Financial Management Board of Standards USA require further graduate education in extra areas beyond investments, finance or planning including: economics, trusts, estates, global tax, macro forces, private banking, wealth strategy, money and banking, hedge funds, global risk management, and other.

For example, financial advisors may provide guidance to individuals making personal financial decisions. In contrast, the financial analysts role or profession began with a focus on financial bookkeeping and reporting skills, but has morphed over the recent years into a financial research job with a focus on fundamentals.

These skills are similar to those that financial advisors use when consulting with clients, but advisors and planners by default have been trained more on the issues of FINRA rules, retirement planning, tax, estates, personal finance, insurance sales, and education planning. Moreover, financial analysts now tend to focus on assessing the performance of stocks, bonds, commodities, sectors, and other types of securities in relation to portolio management. These skills also are employed by the financial advisor.

What's more, some experienced managers, generally portfolio managers, supervise a team of analysts and select the mix of products, industries, and regions for their company's investment portfolio. These managers or directors are not only responsible for the overall portfolio, but are also expected to explain investment decisions and strategies in meetings with investors.

An accredited bachelor's or graduate degree is normally required for entry level or higher financial related positions. Most employers require a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as finance, business, accounting, statistics, or economics. The business schools that are ACBSP or AACSB accredited represent the top business programs that have met the requirements of double accreditation. An understanding of statistics, economics, and business may be essential, and knowledge of accounting policies and procedures, corporate budgeting, and financial analysis methods is recommended.

Since both financial advisors and analysts require similar qualifications, those individuals who have the proper accredited education can easily transition between the two functions providing more value to clients.

All entry level persons should be prepared to study for and take relevant regulatory licensing exams such as: Insurance License, Series 6, Series 7, Series 65, 66 or other licensing exams that are offered or regulated by the SEC, Individual States, The AICPA, the respective Insurance Commissioners or FINRA.

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AUTHORGeorge Mentz Insider Comment
  • Br
    Brad
    28 July 2011

    Comparing the skills of a Financial Analyst to that of a Financial Advisor is stretching credulity. The former is a highly educated financial expert whilst the latter is a Salesman. No amount of accreditation from the likes of American Academy of Financial Management Board of Standards USA is going to change a Financial Advisor into a Financial Analyst. the roles are so different, to say otherwise is verining on the insane. What is this certification from the American Academy of Financial Management Board of Standards USA anyway - it doesnt seem to need any study or examination from what I can see. seems more like a cerification mill. Send your CV and some money and we will give you a certificate.

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