The Silver State can be pure gold for anyone interested in starting a career in financial planning today. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2019, the median wage for financial advisors in the state came in at $88,600 per year. And the state Department of Training, Employment, and Rehabilitation foresees a lot more of those high-paying jobs becoming available in the next few years… by 2021, it expects the ranks of personal financial advisors in the state to increase by almost 5 percent, while the closely related roles of insurance sales agents and securities and commodities sales agents grow by 3.6 and 3.3 percent respectively.
Some of that job growth is because the Silver State is becoming more silver all the time… not in its mining operations, but rather the glittering hair of the state’s ever-growing share of senior citizens. With more than 19 percent of the population over the age of 65 according to 2019 Census numbers, Nevada is aging faster than most of the rest of the country.
With age comes retirement and concerns of financial security. Financial advisors are made to step into the role of helping individuals and families plan out their golden years, providing advice on tax implications, trust establishment, and inheritance and wealth transference issues.
Planners in Nevada also deal with the financial matters of greater concern to younger families, like educational savings and plans to pay for college. And the state is no stranger to individuals suddenly coming into big money and needing advice on how to manage, invest, and secure it… while there aren’t currently any financial advisor office on the Strip, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad business plan for landing high-rollers while they’re hot!
Getting into financial planning as a career is much less of a gamble, however, and all you have to do to make your shot at it is get the right education and training for the job.
Getting The Right Education to Become a Financial Planner in Nevada
Education as a financial advisor these days means a college education. Once upon a time, all you needed was the willingness to put in a little effort and line yourself up with the right mentors in advisory firms or investment shops, but that went out of style about the same time as those old-fashioned mechanical one-armed bandits. Today, a formal university education in economics, business, or finance is considered a minimum for entry into the financial world.
It’s also important for achieving some of the most important professional certifications in the business, the kind that assure both potential employers and paying clients that you have the reputation, skills, and knowledge to trust with their business.
Bachelor’s Degrees for Financial Planners
You’ll start off with at least a four-year bachelor’s degree. It doesn’t have to be in financial planning, however. There are many possible related fields you may specialize in, everything from economics to accounting to trust management. Or you can go even further afield, major in something like psychology or history… there are dozens of applications for a general bachelor’s degree that can give you an angle in financial planning.
That’s because all such liberal arts degrees offer important training in critical-thinking skills, communications, and social studies that will make you a better representative and better analyst of finance and economics, each of which include important psychological and social components. With the right minor or electives, you can easily find your way into the financial planning field.
That minor, or your major, should be a CFP Board-Registered program, however. The CFP Board awards the all-important Certified Financial Planner (CFP) credential… one of the key professional certifications the industry relies on. That CFP requires that you earn a bachelor’s degree, but also that you complete at least 15 credits in 9 particular subject areas along the way. A Board-Registered program will have those credits; others may not.
Master’s Degrees for Financial Planners
A bachelor’s is just the key to the front door in financial planning, though; it doesn’t get you to the top floor. For that, you’ll want to consider earning a two-year master’s degree on top of your undergrad degree.
Master’s degrees are available in all the same specialized subject areas as bachelor’s programs, but they forgo the liberal arts elements in favor of focusing exclusively on the most rigorous investigations into the core aspects of the field. You’ll be expected to dissect advanced theory and conduct original research in your area of study, and often to participate in an internship program where you will be expected to actually master those skills in the field.
CFP Board-Registered programs exist at this level also, so if you are taking your master’s as a way of switching into the financial planning field from a different career track you can still get your qualifications taken care of for the CFP.
Selecting an Accredited Degree Program
At both levels, selecting a specialty-accredited program or school is important.
Most college students don’t think a lot about accreditation, because most schools already have it—six regional accrediting agencies in the U.S. handle a rigorous, regular evaluation of every respectable university that you might consider, ensuring that they offer a solid academic program in line with the overall standards of American higher education.
But for specialized programs like those associated with business and accounting, an additional level of accreditation is important, offered by one of these three agencies:
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
They look beyond the general academic issues and drill down into specific curriculum requirements and instructor qualifications associated with business and accounting training. Through close connections with the American business community, they ensure that such programs graduate students who are fully equipped to meet the expectations of today’s employers, including those in investing and financial advising.
Enrolling in a FinTech Bootcamp for Financial Planning
A lot of new trends are in play in finance and financial advising, but maybe none is more exciting than fintech. Finance and technology are the chocolate and peanut butter of the financial advising world today, spawning hot new innovations like algorithmic trading and cryptocurrencies. You won’t find these in many textbooks just yet, because they are still constantly evolving, with new developments occurring daily in the field.
One place you can get up to speed on them is in a fintech bootcamp. A couple of these are made available to Nevada residents in a part-time, online format from major colleges:
But you can also find full-time and traditional in-person bootcamps in the field. All of them will train you in similar topics:
- Advanced Excel analysis
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence analytical techniques
- Python programming
- The use of financial coding libraries
- Ethereum and other blockchain systems
That training is about as intensive as the name suggests. You won’t spend a lot of time with your nose buried in a book that has not yet been written; you learn by doing, engaging in a series of projects with the other members of your cohort, working on realistic goals and typically using real-world financial data to do it. Your instructors will have come fresh from that world, and have invaluable insights into how progress is being made out in the field every day.
Most bootcamps not only stuff you full of cutting-edge knowledge, but also include career services teams to help you advance your position before they shove you out the door. That can include resume-polishing assistance, portfolio-building work, or even lining up interviews with prospective employers. Whether you are boosting your career at your current position or searching for something new, devoting a few weeks or months to a fintech bootcamp can be a valuable investment.
Adding a Professional Certification to Boost Your Qualifications as a Financial Planner
Whatever training you may have gone through first, you will find after a couple of years in the field, potential clients and prospective employers will all be looking for something else: a professional certification in the field.
Such certifications can include:
- 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
Each of them serves to validate your expertise through a combination of examinations, to test your knowledge, education, and actual experience on the job. Such independent verification of your skills is a core part of the industry, and so you’ll definitely need to meet those requirements before you advance very far.
The CFP, with its unique requirement that you achieve certain specific courses in addition to a general bachelor’s degree, can also be earned through combining a non-Board-Registered degree with a special Board-Registered post-baccalaureate certificate program. That’s a great option if you are just switching career tracks after getting a degree in another field entirely.
How to Obtain an Investment Adviser Representative License in Nevada
Anyone planning to become an investment adviser representative (IARs) in Nevada or to establish an independent investment adviser (IA) firm must register with the Nevada Secretary of State’s Securities Department. Registration with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission is required for IAs that will manage more the $100 million in client assets. Both state and federally registered IAs use the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA’s) IARD (Investment Advisor Registration Depository) system.
Firm proprietors and representatives must pass the North American Securities Administrators Association’s (NASAA’s) Series 65 examination, or both the Series 7 examination and the Series 66 Examination. Exemptions are granted to candidates who hold one of the following professional certifications and/or designations:
- Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) granted by the American College
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP) granted by the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards
- Personal Financial Consultant (PFS) granted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
- Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC) granted by the Investment Counsel Association of America
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) granted by the Association for Investment Management and Research
Many investment advisory firms have offices across the state of Nevada, if not exactly on the Las Vegas Strip. Maybe yours could be the first! But before then, you’ll have to put in some time at a major retail advisor firm like Charles Schwab or Edward Jones, or perhaps land a gig at a local boutique firm or regional firm like Redrock Wealth Management.
How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in Nevada
Sales representatives of broker-dealer firms in Nevada – often called stockbrokers by the investing public – are required to be licensed by the Nevada Secretary of State’s Securities Department as well as registered with the FINRA Central Registration Depository (CRD). In order to become licensed in Nevada, prospective sales representatives must present proof of passing the NASAA Series 63 or Series 66 examination, along with FINRA’s Series 7 exam.
Maintaining a securities license requires meeting continuing education (CE) mandates set forth by NASAA and FINRA. After two years of licensure, sales reps must take a computer-based refresher course known as the Regulatory Element of CE. Once every three years after that, this course must be taken again as it is continually updated to reflect the evolving regulatory environment of the securities industry. Broker-dealer firms must provide the Firm Element of CE. This training is intended to offer employees periodic updates on sales practices and investment products in accordance with changing state and federal regulation.
How to Obtain a License to Sell Life Insurance and Fixed Annuities in Nevada
The Nevada Division of Insurance licenses life insurance producers in the state, some of whom may sell fixed annuities so as to offer financial planning services. Pre-licensing education is required and must be obtained from a Division-approved provider. Pearson VUE administers Nevada’s state insurance examinations at centers in Las Vegas and Reno. Exemptions for pre-licensing education and/or examinations may be granted to applicants previously licensed in another state if applying for the Nevada license within 90 days of cancelling the previous license.
All Nevada insurance producers must fulfill continuing education mandates. Exemptions to this rule may be granted if one has been continuously licensed as a Nevada life insurance producer for 20 years or more, or if one holds any of the following professional certifications/designations:
- Certified employee benefit specialist (CEBS)
- Certified financial planner (CFP)
- Certified insurance counselor (CIC)
- Chartered financial consultant (ChFC)
- Chartered life underwriter (CLU)
- Fellow, life management institute (FLMI)
- Life underwriter training council fellow (LUTCF)
If a Nevada life insurance producer wishes to sell variable annuities, registration with FINRA and the Nevada Secretary of State, Securities Division is required. This involves passing the Series 6 or 7 Exam, as well as the Series 63 exam. Continuing education requirements of both FINRA and the Nevada Division of Insurance apply to variable annuities/variable life insurance agents.