How to Become a Financial Coach

Gina Deveney
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A financial coach, also called a financial adviser or planner, is a professional who meets with clients and helps them manage their retirement plans, budgets, investments and other money matters. If you are looking for an exciting career that lets you use your life experience to help individuals and families, becoming a financial coach is a great professional choice.

Due to the high level of expertise needed to earn and maintain clients' trust, you should attain a minimum of a bachelor's degree in financial planning, financial services or a related field to become a financial coach. However, a higher-level degree can increase your chances of landing a job, according to U.S. News & World Report. Although certification is not required for employment, you may choose to become a Certified Financial Planner through the CFP Board. For this certification, you must meet initial education requirements, pass a rigorous exam and attain three years of full-time experience as a financial coach. You may also want to become a member of an industry group such as the Financial Planning Association for additional credibility. If you pursue a job that involves selling insurance, stocks, bonds or other products, you may also need to complete specific licensing requirements.

For a career as a financial coach, general life experience involving financial planning may work in your favor, leading to its popularity as an alternate career choice. According to a 2009 Financial Planning Association poll, approximately 88 percent of respondents worked in another field before moving to financial planning. Interpersonal skills, empathy, problem-solving skills and math skills are all essential for a financial coach. Many financial planning positions involve selling financial products, so sales skills are also helpful.

Fortunately, employment opportunities in this field are fairly plentiful and cover a wide range of jobs. You may work as an independent financial coach for small businesses, work with credit intermediation, sell insurance or become a commodity broker. You may also become an adviser for a big financial firm such as Wells Fargo or Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, neither of which requires you to become a Certified Financial Planner. Although you should not be picky about your first job as it offers a valuable learning experience, you may eventually decide to start your own private advising firm. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20 percent of financial coaches were self-employed as of 2012. Whatever position you choose, you will likely work in an office setting communicating directly with clients.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median salary of a personal financial coach is more than $67,000, and the career outlook is excellent with a growth of 27 percent, much faster than average. Financial coaches normally work full-time, and they enjoy flexible work hours and plenty of upward mobility. With generally low educational requirements, this is a great career option for budding business professionals.

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