How Can I Get a Financial Advisor License? 

Becoming a licensed financial advisor is a great gateway to a lucrative and rewarding career.

Getting a financial advisor license is also not all that difficult.

However, there are several different types of licenses and certifications that would actually qualify you to do this type of job.

Learning about the different types of licenses and designations that govern this profession is a good way to start planning out your educational pathway, if this is a career that you are interested in. 

Also, it is important to realize that there are many different terms used to refer to the same job.

A financial advisor and a financial planner, for example, are terms that are often used interchangeably.

There are also more specific terms, such as investment advisor, which might be considered the same by some.

In reality, an investment advisor would only help his clients decide how to invest their money, whereas a planner or advisor should be able to help their clients with a wider range of financial queries, such as retirement planning or estate management. 

Bare Minimum Requirements 

At the very minimum, in order to operate as a financial advisor, you will need to pass the Series 66 exam, or the Series 63 and Series 65 exams.

In many respects, this could be considered getting your financial advisor license, because in some jurisdictions you could legally work as a financial advisor after passing this test, although what products and services you could provide would be limited. 

However, there are other state regulations that may determine that you need additional licenses, qualifications or education in order to operate as a financial advisor. Always check with your local governing bodies. 

Other Government Licenses 

The government also has a number of other licenses that are part of the financial advisor license process for many advisors.

The Series 6 exam is something that might be obtained by someone first trying to break into the field, as it allows you to sell packaged products like mutual funds. 

There is also the series 7 exam. This exam is very difficult, and requires comprehensive education.

Typically, this is the license that stockbrokers obtain.

However, for many financial advisors and planners also obtain this license to give them more in depth knowledge, and to allow them to expand their business practices. 

CFP Certification 

The Certified Financial Planner certification will take you much further down the career path to being a recognized financial advisor than just passing your series 66 will.

This is a nationally recognized certification that indicates to employers and clients that you have met minimum educational requirements in order to obtain your certification. 

To obtain this financial advisor license, you must meet certain educational thresholds.

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First of all, you must have a bachelors degree.

This ensures that all advisors have acquired enough basic education to provide sound advise to their clients. 

In addition to a degree, someone who wants to obtain the CFP certification must also complete a financial plan development course.

There are many distance learning programs which allow a person to meet this requirement, allowing for flexible study options for currently working professionals. 

Finally, to obtain the CFP designation, you must actually acquire a certain amount of experience working in the field.

This is to ensure that once a person obtains the certification that a client can have confidence that they are experienced enough to provide guidance independently. 

If you're working independently for an employer, you must obtain three years of experience in the field in order to gain your certification.

However, you can shorten that period by enrolling in certain apprenticeship programs. A qualified apprenticeship will allow you to get certified in two years instead of three. 

The Big Picture 

“Financial advisor” is not actually a term that has a specific license.

However, to do the work of a financial planner or financial advisor, you will need some kind of a financial advisor license.

There are government licenses that must be obtained, first of all. There are also many different certifications that the industry is governed by. 

The CFP certification is not the only way to go if you want to be a financial advisor. There are other designations offered, such as the Chartered Financial Analyst or Chartered Investment Counselor. 

Although you may actually only need the minimum government licenses in order to provide financial advice in your jurisdiction, it is important to recognize the value of further education and certification.

In order to work for many companies, and certainly in order to attract a large client base, you will likely need to expand your credentials beyond the obtaining of the bare minimum government licenses. 

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