Note: The author is one of several expert panelists who participated in an Aug. 16 MOAA webinar available to all transitioning servicemembers, veterans, and military spouses interested in pursuing or advancing a career in the financial services industry. Register here for a recording of the event.
The financial industry is filled with fantastic career opportunities. There are many factors to consider when planning your career – your specialization, education, designations, and income, to name a few. That doesn't include some of the industry's unique challenges veterans and military spouses face.
Whether you're interested in financial planning, counseling, or portfolio management, understanding the industry is crucial for long-term success. Here are some financial industry career basics that may help your career thrive.
Roles and Specializations
The financial industry encompasses various roles and specializations. Understanding the whole playing field can help you determine the position or role you want to play.
For example, a financial planner acts as a comprehensive adviser, assessing a client's financial situation and designing strategies to achieve their objectives. They consider budgeting, retirement planning, insurance needs, and tax management.
On the other hand, a portfolio manager is responsible for managing client's investment portfolios, making asset allocation decisions, and conducting market analysis to optimize returns while mitigating risks. In comparison, a financial counselor focuses on providing guidance and support to deal with challenges helping others develop healthy financial habits and decision-making skills. Identifying your interests and skills is essential to choose a role that aligns with your strengths.
Designations and Qualifications
It's crucial to align your designations and skill set to the role you want. For example, if you're interested in retirement planning, is a Wealth Management Certified Professional® (WMCP®) required, or if you'll be working in financial planning, is Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) preferred?
Also, do you have the skills to perform in your desired role? Strong analytical and quantitative skills can be helpful for financial analysis, risk assessment, and decision-making. At the same time, effective communication skills are vital for building trusted relationships with financial counseling clients.
Since 1927, The American College of Financial Services has helped more than 200,000 financial services professionals accelerate their career through a professional certification or advanced degree. The college offers real-time, practical knowledge, and a proven approach to education in financial planning, retirement coaching, insurance, philanthropic giving, and more.
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Networking and Professional Relationships
Networking is invaluable in the financial industry. Attending industry events, joining professional organizations, and participating in online communities can connect you with industry experts and mentors who can guide and support you as you navigate your career path. Signing up for The American College Center for Military and Veterans Affairs Center SITREP is a great way to get support and stay connected with the community.
Continuing Education and Professional Certifications
Continued learning is essential in the ever-evolving financial industry. It’s important to stay up-to-date with industry trends, regulations, and emerging technologies. To stay competitive, consider pursuing advanced degrees like a master’s, or specialized certifications such as Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP). These credentials demonstrate expertise and dedication to the field, opening doors to advanced career opportunities.
Military Life Adaptability
Maintaining employment long enough to build a client base is a significant challenge for military spouses, servicemembers, and veterans. Adaptability is key to building a career around military life. This can include things like entrepreneurship, condensed work hours, and remote-based employment.
In conclusion, a career in the financial industry offers diverse opportunities for individuals passionate about finances. You can build a successful career in the financial industry by understanding the various roles, acquiring the necessary skills and qualifications, and staying updated with industry trends.