Financial Advisor Degrees: Courses, Requirements & Types

Oct 20, 2021

Financial advisors offer clients advice on taxes, estate planning, risk management, and more.

Financial Advisor Job Description and Overview

Financial advisors counsel private individuals as well as businesses on their income and spending, helping them to plan for the future and minimize unnecessary expenditure wherever possible. They may also offer clients advice on taxation, investments, and the housing market. A financial advisor typically needs in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of the economy and the stock market, as well as excellent attention-to-detail and strong interpersonal skills. IT skills are a must, as financial advisors are often required to use state-of-the-art technology to calculate risks and ROI rates, stay on top of changes in the stock market, and videoconference with clients.

If this sounds like the job for you, you may be wondering, 'What degree do you need to be a financial advisor?' Read on to find out.

Degree For Financial Advisor Overview

Financial advisors need to be knowledgeable in estate planning, taxes, risk management, and various types of investments. What degree does a financial advisor need? The minimum degree for a financial advisor is usually a bachelor's degree. While there are degree programs in financial planning available, students may also pursue a degree in another business field, including accounting, finance, or economics. Common financial advising courses include tax planning, investment, risk management, estate planning, and retirement planning.

After earning a degree, aspiring financial advisors need to pursue licensure if they plan to sell or buy types of investments and insurance. They can also pursue the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) credential after they gain three years of work experience in the field. Degree programs in financial planning generally prepare students for this certification exam. Graduates of bachelor's programs may also pursue a master's degree in business administration, financial planning, or finance for career advancement opportunities.

Common Concepts in Financial Advisor Degree Courses

  • Economic strategies
  • Relationships with clients
  • Regulations
  • Accounting principles
  • Calculations
  • Speculation
  • Government's role in economics

Financial Advisor Degree - List of Courses

Financial Planning

This course provides an overview of the many financial vehicles and strategies available to people planning for their future, such as taxation, retirement, and estate planning. Students examine how to collect and analyze data from their clients and then how to set goals and construct financial plans for said client. The course then goes on to instruct students in implementing the plan and reviewing it at regular intervals to see how it is performing. Common topics covered include regulatory environment, money tools, and communication skills.

Tax Planning

In this course, students discuss taxation laws, tax planning strategies, and tax computations. Students learn the basics for accounting, recovery, exclusions, and exemptions. This course prepares students to minimize a client's taxes through charitable donations, deductions, stock options, and other methods.


Students examine the various investments available to clients, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, government securities, and real estate. Students learn to calculate the risk tolerance of their clients, their income needs, and the desired return on investment. Students look at possible problems when investing and learn to handle such situations with clients.

Estate Planning

This course centers around wills, powers of attorney, probate procedures, and estate planning. The course looks at weighing tax vs. non-tax aspects of estate planning. Students discuss generation-skipping transfer taxes, gifting, and marital contributions. Forms, procedures, and trusts are a point of focus for future financial planners to use with clients.

Risk Management

Students learn how to assess risk factors and properly advise clients of the insurances they should be seeking. Liability, life, and property insurance are the most common insurances that may be taken out after assessing risk values. Students gain an overview of insurance policies and learn how to read insurance proposals and claims. Students pay special attention to annuities, death benefits, and the legal aspects of insurance.

Retirement Planning

Students learn about IRAs (individual retirement accounts), pensions, and government benefits in this course. A client's portfolio for retirement planning should be considered. Tax laws for retirement may be looked at. Topics may include cash compensation, health coverage, and fringe benefits. This course provides an overview of social security benefits and tax-exempt retirement packages.

Financial Advisor Degree Levels

As previously stated, a minimum of a bachelor's degree is usually required in order to become a financial advisor, and all of the above-mentioned courses are offered by various universities at the undergraduate level, meaning it is possible to specialize in the exact field of your choice even before you've earned your degree. It is also possible to obtain a financial advisor degree at the master's level. For example, Liberty University offers a postgraduate degree in financial planning, while The University of Alabama has a master's in consumer sciences with a concentration on family financial planning and counseling.

Level of study Typical courses
Certificate Professional conduct, basic principles of financial planning, investment planning, tax planning, retirement planning, estate planning, risk management
Bachelor's degree Mathematics, business law, managerial accounting, marketing, financial plan development, federal taxation
Master's degree Insurance planning, psychology of money, counseling skills, family and consumer law, IT skills

Financial Advisor Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), personal financial advisors had a median annual salary of $87,850 in May 2019. Employability for financial advisors is predicted to grow by 4%, or about as fast as average, between 2019 and 2029.

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