How to Become a Personal Financial Advisor in Utah
Are you good at math? Do you like helping people, and do you feel you have good interpersonal skills? If you answered yes to any of these questions, pursuing a career as a personal financial advisor (PFA) in Utah may be right for you.
The job outlook for personal financial advisors is bright nationwide and it’s especially positive in Utah. The Utah Department of Workforce Services has identified personal financial advisors as a five-star profession, which means it’s a well-paying career with favorable long-term growth.
Utah is consistently ranked as a top state for business – and that applies for most industries. Utah’s Financial Services industry employs more than 84,000 people in the state, and the industry grew by more than 20% over the last five years.
Several high-profile financial firms have moved to Utah in recent years because of its friendly business environment, and Salt Lake City is now home to companies like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and several others. All these financial firms have created what economic developers call an “industry cluster,” which is a cluster of high-paying jobs.
Experts also predict a future shortage of personal financial advisors, as about 40% of advisors’ nationwide plan to retire in the next 10 years, according to some estimates. While this is a challenge for the financial services industry, it’s a huge opportunity for college students and people looking to switch to a stable and well-paying career.
We’ll break down how to become a personal financial advisor in Utah, including the best universities to study at, things to consider before pursuing the career, and the top business schools and financial advisor firms in Utah.
What Do Financial Advisors Do?
Personal financial advisors asses the financial needs of clients by helping them make decisions on things like investments (such as stocks and bonds), tax laws, and insurance. Advisors help clients meet short- and long-term financial goals, such as paying education expenses or planning for retirement.
Many advisors offer advice on a wide range of financial topics, though some in the profession specialize in a specific area (like retirement planning). Financial advisors typically spend a lot of time marketing and selling their services, and they’ll usually gain new clients by teaching finance seminars, traveling to industry conferences, and networking with other professionals.
To succeed as a financial advisor, some important skills and characteristics include:
- Analytical and math skills. Financial advisors constantly work with numbers, so good math skills are a necessity. PFAs also need keen analytical skills because they must examine a vast amount of information when making investment decisions, such as economic trends and regulatory changes.
- Interpersonal and sales skills. PFAs must enjoy working with people and have good communication skills. A big part of the job is making clients feel comfortable and establishing trust. Financial advisors must also be good at networking and selling their services because they’ll regularly be looking to expand their client base.
- Self-motivation. Financial advisors need to have a strong work ethic and frequently take the initiative and follow up with current and potential clients. The financial advisor occupation is a competitive field, so advisors must often go above and beyond to succeed. This is especially true if you’re self-employed.
Is This Career Right for You?
Before pursuing this career field, it’s important to know some of the pros and cons of the profession. As we already mentioned, the financial advisor occupation is expected to see steady growth in the future in Utah and nationwide, so that’s one advantage right off the bat.
Another advantage: It’s a high-paying profession. Financial advisors earn a median annual wage of nearly $77,426 in Utah, according to Indeed. However, financial advisors have unlimited earning potential. Financial advisor work is fee- or commission-based, or a combination of the two, which means your income every year is based on the amount of new business or recurring revenue you create. Depending on how hard you work, you can earn as much or as little as you want as a financial advisor.
Many financial advisors also find their jobs rewarding because they offer meaningful advice to clients. Many advisors offer their services to regular people looking to make informed decisions about their life’s savings. Your success as a financial advisor can mean saving a client enough money for a comfortable retirement and a long, healthy life.
There’s a flip side to this, though. When the economy takes a nosedive, many people quickly contact their financial advisors. Working as a PFA means your job is deeply intertwined with domestic and global markets, which can make the profession highly stressful, especially when you’re just starting out. Financial advisors can end up spending a good deal of time managing the emotions of upset clients during economic downturns.
Another disadvantage: Starting a career as a financial advisor means you’ll be searching for new clients on a constant basis. Until you establish an adequate client base (or “book,” as it’s known in the industry), you’ll be scouring for new prospects around the clock. That’s why financial advisors must have excellent sales, marketing, and communication skills. It’s a very competitive industry and building a client base is often cited as the most challenging part of the job.
The minimum requirement to become a financial advisor in Utah is a bachelor’s degree in a business-related major. If you’re pursuing this career, it’s wise to major in finance, economics, business, statistics, or a similar field. Certain courses will also prepare you for the career field, such as classes in marketing, taxation, accounting, and business law.
While taking college courses, try to land an internship to gain real-world experience as a financial advisor. An internship is a great training opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom and a chance to network and learn from potential mentors in the profession.
You’ll be required to obtain various financial licenses in Utah to work as an Investment Advisor Representative (IAR). Financial Planner World says you must take and pass the:
- The Series 65, Uniform Investor Law Examination, OR
- The Series 7, General Securities Representative Examination. This exam requires sponsorship from an employer and if you take the Series 7 exam, the Series 66, Uniform Combined State Law Examination must also be taken.
Potential financial advisors in Utah must also complete:
- The Form U-4 Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer, OR
- The Form U-10, Uniform Examination Request for non-FINRA Members. This application form can be used for all non-sponsored exams. It’s an application only for the exam and it doesn’t complete the registration process. You must still complete the necessary final registration using the Form U-4 form within 24 hours of completing the exam.
You can schedule an exam with one of the Pearson or Prometric Professional Testing Center locations in Utah, and you’ll have 120 days to take the exam once your registration is completed. Financial Planner World advises showing up one hour before the exam. The exam scores are released right after test completion.
Breaking into the Profession
You’ll need licensing to work as a financial advisor in Utah, and some companies will offer training to help you pass the exams when you’re starting out. Breaking into the field and becoming a financial advisor is tough, and keep in mind there are many paths you can take.
First, a word of caution. Be wary of companies (usually the ones who advertise their jobs the most) that’ll hire you with no experience for a commission-only position. Most of these companies have high turnover, according to Job Unlocker, and you may be encouraged to sell investment and insurance products to friends and family. In this type of entry-level position, you’ll be operating as more of a financial salesperson and not as a financial advisor.
Industry experts say the wiser path is to start in a non-sales role at an existing financial advisory firm. As a paraplanner or junior associate, you’ll support other established financial advisors and their clients, rather than selling and bringing in new clients. The downside is some of these positions require certification. If you don’t have a certification yet, another option is to simply take any salaried position in the financial services industry to gain experience.
Once you gain some work experience (usually three years), the next step in the career path is to obtain certification. Certification usually requires specialized training or coursework, an exam, and continuing education. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors recommends pursuing one or more of the following certifications:
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
- Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
- Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
Keep in mind that working as a financial advisor means there will always be more to learn. Finance laws and strategies are constantly changing, and many of the certifications we listed require taking continuous education courses. Obtaining a graduate degree in finance can also give you a competitive edge in the industry.
Business Schools in Utah
Given Utah’s relatively small population, there aren’t many accredited Utah universities with business schools. The National Center for Educational Statistics reports there are 15 public and non-profit Utah universities with business programs at the undergraduate and graduate level.
As we mentioned earlier, many people considering a career as a personal financial advisor will pursue a bachelor’s degree in a business-related major. The eight Utah universities that offer undergrad business studies are:
- Brigham Young University (Provo)
- Dixie State University (St. George)
- Southern Utah University (Cedar City)
- University of Utah (Salt Lake City)
- Utah State University (Logan)
- Utah Valley University (Orem)
- Weber State University (Ogden), and
- Westminster College (Salt Lake City).
The six accredited Utah universities that offer graduate degrees in business are:
- Brigham Young University
- Southern Utah University
- University of Utah
- Utah State University
- Utah Valley University, and
- Weber State University
The Best Financial Advisor Firms in Utah
Utah’s financial industry has grown rapidly in recent years, making it a top state to start a career as a personal financial advisor. Salt Lake City leads the nation with nearly 21% growth in the financial services industry since 2007, according to the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity.
Some of the best financial advisor firms in Utah include:
- The Karras Company, Inc. Founded in 1997, Karras is a fee-based firm located in Roy, Utah. The company is small and has only three financial advisors on staff, and they’re both Certified Financial Planners.
- Soltis Investment Advisors, LLC. Soltis is a large firm in St. George, Utah, that employs 14 advisors and has $1.06 billion in assets under management (AUM).
- Albion Financial Group. Albion is based in Salt Lake City and is another large firm with seven advisors on staff. The firm has more than $1 billion in AUM and doesn’t require a minimum account size. Albion typically works with non-high-net clients, including families, corporations, and businesses.
- UMA Financial Services, Inc. UMA is based in Salt Lake City and owned by the Utah Medical Association. The firm deals specifically with helping Utah physicians and their families manage their wealth. Founded in 1993, UMA Financial Services has seven advisors on staff and doesn’t have a minimum investment requirement.
- The Insight Group, Inc. Insight is another Salt Lake City-based firm that was founded in 1993 and has six advisors on staff. You need at least $1 million to open an account at Insight. Every one of the advisors at the firm has been working in the financial management field for at least 20 years.
Crafting a Resume for A Finance Job
As we mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to start your career path to becoming a personal financial advisor in Utah is to land an entry-level finance job. Whatever finance position you target, you’ll need to focus on some specific skills on your professional resume that employers look for in the finance industry.
When applying for a finance job, we advise focusing on showcasing a few important skills and qualifications in your financial resume, like:
- Interpersonal skills. The ability to form successful relationships with customers is crucial in finance jobs today. In many financial jobs, you’ll be working and communicating with clients every day.
- Analytical ability. Many finance jobs will require you to analyze mounds of information and data and draw suitable conclusions. Emphasize your analytical skills on your resume with real-world examples from previous jobs and back up the examples with hard data.
- IT software knowledge. Like most professions, jobs in finance are increasingly requiring extensive knowledge of IT software. Make sure you list your experience with common software used in finance jobs today, such as Oracle, predictive analytics, and SAP accounting software.
As you embark on your job search, reach out to Empire Resume to help you break into the financial field. More than 95% of Empire Resume’s clients get interviews after using our professional resume writing service.
Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.