Becoming a Financial Planner in Delaware

Delaware offers advantages to investors that most other states do not. The state is one of the few that offers directed trusts. These trusts separate the administrative function from the invest­ment function, allowing trust clients to appoint their own investment advisor trustee. Many wealthier individuals are drawn to Delaware because the state imposes no fidu­ciary income tax on irrevocable trusts that accumulate capital gains and/or income for future distribution to nonresident beneficiaries. Many of Delaware’s high net worth residents with estate planning needs elect to have investment advisors help them establish such trusts.

Consequently, the Delaware Department of Labor expects job growth in the financial advisory industry, projecting that personal financial advisor jobs will grow by about 2 percent by 2021. Securities, commodities and financial services sales agents should see about 3 percent job growth in the state during that time.

Delaware is known for its small geographical footprint as compared to other states, its population is growing. Information supplied by the Delaware Population Consortium shows that the population is expected to exceed one million in the coming years with projections of just over 1 million residents by 2025. The state currently ranks 24th in the country for economic outlook according to Rich States, Poor States, and enjoys a median household income of $65,627 per year.

According to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau figures, a large percentage of Delaware’s population, 19.4 percent, is over the standard retirement age of 65. As Delaware’s growth trend continues, the population of retirees and residents approaching retirement age will see proportional increases. These facts bode well for those interested in becoming financial planners committed to the responsible and prudent management of Delaware’s higher net worth retirees.

Getting The Right Education to Become a Financial Planner in Delaware

You’ll find that those retirees are pretty sharp cookies. They’re not interested in having just anyone looking after their accumulated wealth and making plans for their children’s educational financing… they want planners who have put in the time on the treadmill to learn the best practices and standards for the industry first. And that means getting a college education.

You’ll also need a degree under your belt if you want to get any of the standard certifications that are common in the industry. Both employers and clients want to see some evidence that you know what you are doing with their money, and it starts with a college degree.

Bachelor’s Degrees for Financial Planners

A bachelor’s degree is considered the ground-floor level of education in financial fields. These four-year programs include not only subject-specific courses in areas like accounting, investing, business operations, planning, and regulation, but also more general topics like history, psychology, sociology, communications, and more. It’s a classical liberal arts education that values critical thinking skills and equips you for life-long learning in any field.

Since those are some of the most important elements of a financial planning career, it gives you a wide array of degree programs that you can enroll in and still find a successful path in the field. What you will need to do, however, is make sure that either the degree itself or a suitable minor are found on the list of CFP Board-Registered programs. That’s because the most important certification in the field, the Certified Financial Planner, has very specific college credit requirements. The Board requires not only the bachelor’s degree, but study of at least 15 credits in 9 specific subjects before it will grant a CFP.

Master’s Degrees for Financial Planners

The CFP Board also registers programs at the master’s level, which gives you another option if you choose to proceed further in your education. A master’s can be found in all of the same types of fields that bachelor’s programs are offered in, but takes the two years of study and devotes them to even more in-depth and arcane topics, turning graduates into the real wizards of the profession.

This can involve everything from advanced option pricing to high-level tax accounting practices. It usually requires an internship or some type of advanced research project, either of which will make you far more familiar with the subject matter than any undergraduate course. That’s why master’s-equipped financial planners are some of the best compensated and most in-demand in the field.

Selecting an Accredited Degree Program

A degree in business or accounting is only as good as the school that grants it. That’s what accreditation is for: a third-party assessment of the quality and qualifications of colleges that assure you of their high academic quality and conformance to agreed-upon standards.

For every American college, general accreditation by one of the six regional accreditors operating in the country today is considered a bare minimum. But if you are studying in a business-related field, then a specialty accreditation from one of these three agencies is also vital:

With close relationships in the American business community, these accreditors go beyond the basics by assessing schools and programs on the basis of their suitability and alignment with modern business practice. You can be assured that you are getting an education that employers and clients alike will value and respect in the financial planning field with these accreditations.

Enrolling in a FinTech Bootcamp for Financial Planning

Many individuals entering the field of financial planning today will find that it has radically transformed itself over the next decade or so. They’ll be scrambling to keep up with the changes wrought by cryptocurrencies, algorithmic trading, and artificial intelligence-driven financial analysis.

You can get ahead of that curve today, however, by extending your financial education with a fintech bootcamp. These fast-paced, project-driven, cohort-based programs can give you a cutting-edge education in subjects such as:

  • Python programming and advanced Excel analysis
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • Financial programming libraries
  • Blockchain currencies and applications like Ethereum
  • Smart contracts like Solidity

The courses are taught by instructors who have come straight from the industry and understand the most modern innovations coming out of the merger of finance and technology. You practice on live financial datasets, exploring problems that are current in the industry and similar to what you will find on the job. The study is intensive, but the knowledge gained is immense.

Bootcamps used to be located on-site and run full-time, taking a few weeks or a few months to complete. Now, however, you can find college-backed programs that are offered part-time on evenings and weekends and take about six months to complete, including:

The advantages that come with these bootcamps are the additional academic expertise on tap and the immense resources that come with a fully-funded college department standing behind them. That means experienced and advanced career services, available to help you brush up your resume or practice interviewing, or even to arrange dedicated demo days to show off your portfolio to potential employers. It’s a fast track to a high-tech future in financial planning.

Adding a Professional Certification to Boost Your Qualifications as a Financial Planner

Regardless of your actual skills and expertise, you’ll find that a lot of clients and employers want to see professional certifications hanging on your wall. These offer a blend of educational and experiential requirements that deliver some assurance that you have both knowledge and operational competence in your areas of expertise:

  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) – Requires 27 semester credit hours in specified courses, although not a completed degree, plus 3 years experience
  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC) Not required; however, must hold a CFA, plus 5 years experience
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Hold 4 years combined professional and/or university experience
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Hold a bachelor’s degree, plus 3 years experience
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) Have 75 hours personal financial planning education; also, hold a CPA, which requires a degree, plus 2 years experience

The CFP requires not just a bachelor’s, but also 15 credits worth of specific coursework in certain areas. If your degree at any level did not include those requirements, there are CFP Board-registered certificate programs that exist specifically to make up that deficiency to allow you to qualify for the CFP regardless.

How to Obtain an Investment Adviser Representative License in Delaware

The Delaware Securities Division licenses all investment adviser representatives (IARs) and investment adviser (IA) firms that work with state residents. All IAs and their representatives register through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA’s) IARD (Investment Advisor Registration Depository) system. Examinations that must be passed before licensure is granted include the North American Securities Administrators Association’s (NASAA’s) Series 65 (Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination), or the FINRA Series 7 (General Securities Representative Examination) in combination with the Series 66 (Uniform Combined State Law Examination).

Under the Delaware Securities Act, those who hold one of the following professional designations are exempt from taking these exams:

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
  • Charted Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)

Some of the well-known Investment adviser firms with offices in Delaware include Mallard Advisors and Diamond State Financial Group, both with offices in Newark; and Charles Schwab, Ameriprise Financial, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and BlackRock Advisors, LLC, all with offices in Wilmington. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management has offices located in both Lewes and Wilmington.

How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in Delaware

Broker-dealer agents, otherwise known as stockbrokers, are also registered with the Delaware Securities Division, as well as with FINRA through their Central Registration Depository (CRD). To become licensed, registered agents must take either the Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law Examination) or Series 66 (Uniform Combined State Law Examination) along with the Series 7 (General Securities Representative Examination).

Continuing education must be taken by all securities representatives registered with the state. Under the rules of NASAA and FINRA, all registered securities representatives must take a web-based Regulatory Element course after two years in practice and every three years thereafter. The Firm Element, provided by the broker-dealer firms themselves, offers training to registered agents to keep them abreast of industry and internal business developments that have the potential to affect sales strategies and protocols, as well as the financial products the firm may offer.

How to Obtain a License to Sell Life Insurance and Fixed Annuities in Delaware

Delaware’s Department of Insurance licenses life insurance producers who may provide financial planning services through the sale of fixed annuities. No pre-licensing education is required in Delaware, but the Delaware life insurance producer examination, facilitated through third-party exam provider Pearson VUE, must be passed. Licensed life insurance producers in Delaware must take 24 hours of continuing education every 24 months, three hours of which must be specific to ethics training.

Selling variable annuities in Delaware as an insurance producer requires both life insurance producer licensure as well as a securities license issued after passing the Series 6 (Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Limited Representative Examination). Continuing education requirements of both licenses must be upheld in order to maintain licensure.