“Financial planner” is a pretty broad job description, but overall these experts help individuals and groups plan for a healthy financial future. A variety of services are offered including insurance, investments, savings, and retirement. Every financial planner is also a salesperson – but not all of them necessarily sell a product or service. According to Sensible Money, more than 90% of financial planners are commission based (and perhaps also salary based) and depend on selling insurance or other services to make a living. However, all financial planners are in the business of selling advice.

Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Services (BLS) projects an excellent outlook for the future of financial planners. Total job growth is expected to be 32% by the year 2020, which is exceptionally fast when compared to the overall job growth average of 18%. The average personal financial planner makes $64,750 per year or $31.13 per hour. While this is an average, it’s important to bear in mind that like any commission-based job, earnings are technically limitless. As of 2010, there were 206,800 financial planners in the US.

Education Requirements

While the BLS lists a bachelor’s degree as a requirement that is not necessarily the case. There are many agencies hiring financial planners with no degree requirements and it’s also feasible for someone to open their own business. However, with the industry slated to explode, there is a lot of competition for jobs in this market. Having a Business degree or a Finance degree can help a financial planner secure a job and clients.

Financial Planner Personality Traits

First and foremost, a financial planner is a salesperson. These professionals have to have fantastic people skills and the ability to connect with all personality types. A warm demeanor, confidence, and the skills to build a quality relationship with (hopefully) a long-term client are critical. Of course, these experts must also have a breadth of knowledge in the financial field. This is where education comes into play. There are many things a person can learn on the job, but a certification or degree in finance is invaluable.

Types of Planners

There are three types of financial planners and all are included in Worth’s Elite List: Top Ten Types of Financial Advisors list. There is the financial planner, whose job is to facilitate a conversation about financial health and possibly sell products and services. There are also insurance agents who focus solely on selling policies. Finally, investment advisors work only with investments such as retirement accounts, IRAs, and stocks. Investment advisors should be registered with state officials or the US Securities and Exchange Commission depending upon the size of the portfolios they handle.

Pros and Cons

The field of financial planning can be very lucrative, but it can also be very unstable. A prospective planner should consider how strong his or her sales skills are before choosing an employer. Some companies are commission-based only, which can be stressful for those who prefer a steady income. However, others might flourish in such a high-stakes environment. This is an industry that stands up to the pressures of a flailing economy as people often become more conservative when the economy is shaky and more interested in saving and investing.

There are many finance-related positions and being a planner is perhaps the most people-oriented of all of them. Financial planning can be a wonderful career for someone who has been successful in sales and is looking for a more flexible schedule and environment. Individuals need to consider their strengths and decide if this field is a good fit for their skill-sets. It takes a unique combination of good business sense and an outgoing personality to ensure a fruitful career as a financial planner.