Don’t make the mistake of thinking that folks who choose to live in a state that has a motto of “Live Free or Die!” can’t take advice. New Hampshirites are independent, it’s true, but when it comes to financial advice and planning, they have the typical New England sense to listen to professionals.
You can see that in the state’s standings with respect to the reset of the country on financial matters. New Hampshire ranks 5th out of all states in terms of average retirement savings according to Personal Capital in 2020, so the state’s residents are ahead of the game in terms of preparing for their golden years. But there is a lot of money floating around the Granite State in the first place… it ranks 7th overall in the per capita ratio of millionaires to total households according to Phoenix International’s 2017 Wealth Survey.
And according to 2019 data from the U.S. Census, almost 19 percent of New Hampshirites are already over the age of 65, so those savings are becoming more and more relevant all the time. In a nation that is going gray rapidly while the massive Baby Boom generation ages out of the workforce, retirement planning is big business, and bigger in New Hampshire than many places.
The state’s Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau foresees a nearly three percent bump in the number of personal financial planning positions required in the state by 2021. While trust and estate planning, retirement savings and investing, are all hot topics that are driving those job gains, you can also find positions in other specializations of financial planning, such as educational savings.
You can make a solid, honest living in New Hampshire being that trusted financial planning authority, but only if you put in the work and get the right education to earn the trust of the locals.
Getting The Right Education to Become a Financial Planner in New Hampshire
The right education for a financial planner runs right through a university these days. In a complicated field like finance, it’s not enough to just do some reading on your own and hope that you can find a ground-level position in a planning firm that will allow you to work your way up the ladder with grit and on-the-job training.
Instead, you’ll almost immediately find yourself called on to draw on foundational aspects of finance, such as accounting, economics, and business. It’s all part of a basic college education, and it’s part of the reason why the most important professional certifications in the financial planning field today require that you have a degree, or at least some college credits.
Bachelor’s Degrees for Financial Planners
In almost every case, you’ll need to at least earn a bachelor’s degree to get even an entry-level job in financial planning. These four-year programs involve a broad range of studies, not just of the specific subjects of the major, but also in general liberal arts courses: communication, history, sociology, psychology, and other topics that help produce well-rounded graduates with solid critical-thinking skills.
The major topics of your degree might include:
- Bachelor in Financial Planning
- Bachelor in Financial Services
- Bachelor in Accounting
- Bachelor in Business
- Bachelor in Trust and Wealth Management
But you have a broad latitude to structure your degree according to your own preferences and career choices. One important think to consider, however, is whether or not it is a CFP Board-Registered program. The CFP Board is the organization that is responsible for awarding the most important of financial planning professional certifications, the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) credential. The CFP requires that you earn not only a bachelor’s degree, but also that specific coursework is studied as a part of that degree—only Board-Registered programs are guaranteed to include it.
Master’s Degrees for Financial Planners
Master’s degrees are also available that are Board-Registered, which allows you to pick up that important education even if you missed out at the bachelor’s level, or are coming in from a different field entirely as part of a career transition to financial planning.
Either way, a master’s program will boost your financial planning career like nothing else. These two-year programs offer a high-level education in the subjects they cover, advanced studies in the theoretical aspects of economics, finance, accounting, and business that underly day-to-day financial planning work. You’ll investigate those elements with highly respected professors and typically be involved in ongoing research in the field, an experience that will give you a perspective that most planners can’t draw upon. Earning a master’s is a significant commitment, but one that pays big dividends in terms of salary and promotion potential in the industry.
Selecting an Accredited Degree Program
All colleges that are worth considering in the United States hold some form of official accreditation from third-party organizations: a stamp of approval that affirms that the school has standards for administration, academics, and evaluation that meet the overall expectations for universities in the country. These accreditations are so common that most students don’t even have to think about them, but you do, at least a bit.
That’s because finance and business are a very specialized field, and one that demands a specialized accreditation from one of these three organizations:
- Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
- International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE)
- Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
They go beyond the basic elements of accreditation and look more carefully at curriculum development, resources, and instructor selection, making sure that all of the aspects of the program are in line with the expectations of the modern American business community. Accreditation can be offered at the level of the school or the degree, but you definitely want to ensure that your program has one or the other for a career in financial planning.
Enrolling in a FinTech Bootcamp for Financial Planning
Education will remain important throughout your career in financial planning. New developments in the industry don’t stop the instant you get your degree; they are happening at a faster pace now than ever, as the potent mixture of high technology and global finance comes together with new innovations weekly.
That’s why enrolling in a fintech bootcamp could make a lot of sense for you right now. These programs are short-term, lasting only weeks or months, and high-intensity: fast-paced classes that you go through with your cohort, working on set projects each week that are designed to give you a very practical mastery of skills like:
- Advanced Excel analysis
- Machine learning in financial analysis
- Python programming with financial libraries
- Blockchain and cryptocurrencies
- Smart contract use and development
You typically work with real-world data and the projects reflect job demands that you are likely to face after graduation. You learn from instructors who are drawn directly from that world, who know exactly what companies are looking for and can teach you the skills you need to succeed.
Bootcamps are offered by both private entities and by major universities, including:
- Columbia Engineering FinTech Boot Camp
- Penn LPS FinTech Boot Camp
- The FinTech Boot Camp at UNC Charlotte
Programs can be found that are offered online, as those are, or in traditional on-site formats. You’ll also have choices between full and part-time study depending on the program.
Almost all bootcamps also come with some form of career services included in your training. That ranges from basic resume polishing assistance, all the way up through full-blown career days and portfolio-building exercises. Either way, it’s a good method to get ready for advancing your career to higher levels, or just getting in on the ground floor at a hot firm.
Adding a Professional Certification to Boost Your Qualifications as a Financial Planner
Something you’ll need to consider after picking up a little experience in the field is acquiring one or more professional certifications to go along with your degree.
Those certification usually include not just college credits, but also experience on the job and passage of a knowledge-based test to ensure you are well-qualified in the field. Some common certifications 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
All of them are strongly considered by potential employers and by potential clients. The CFP, one of the most prestigious, requires not just a bachelor’s degree, but also specifically coursework; if you failed to take a Board-Registered program as an undergrad or grad student, you can still pick up the required credits through a Board-Registered certificate program at any point.
How to Obtain an Investment Adviser License in New Hampshire
Investment adviser (IA) firm and representative (IAR) licensure is handled through the New Hampshire Department of Securities. Federally registered IA agents work for IA firms that are registered and regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) because they manage client assets in excess of $100 million, whereas state registered IA agents work for IA firms that are not eligible for registration with the SEC because they manage assets that total less than $100 million. Both types of IA agents must meet the same examination requirements, which include passing one of the following exam scenarios:
- Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination (Series 65) examination)
- General Securities Representative Examination (Series 7) and the Uniform Combined State Law Examination (Series 66)
All agent filings are managed through the FINRA Central Registration Depository (CRD) system.
Investment advisors who are sole proprietors must be licensed with the state as investment advisers, but do not need separate agent licensure for themselves. They must, however, pass the same examinations as investment adviser agents.
Even if it’s your eventual ambition to set up your own shop, it’s quite likely that you will first be employed at one of the many major regional or national investment advising firms or banks that have branches in New Hampshire, such as Charles Schwab or Edward Jones.
How to Obtain a Stockbroker License in New Hampshire
Broker-dealer agents are also regulated by the state’s Department of Securities. These agents are licensed to operate in the state by the Department of Securities and operate under the rules of their firm’s self regulatory organization (SRO), such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc (FINRA). To become licensed in New Hampshire, securities sales agents must pass either the Uniform Securities Agent State Law Exam (Series 63) or the Uniform Combined State Law Exam (Series 66).
FINRA requires all broker-dealer agents to adhere to continuing education standards. This includes taking a Regulatory Element course after two years in the position, and then every three years from then on. Firms must also provide continuing education refereed to as the FIRM Element, which are intended to that keep agents updated on the industry’s regulatory changes as they influence general sales protocols and those specific to particular investment vehicles.
How to Obtain a License to Sell Life Insurance and Fixed Annuities in New Hampshire
The New Hampshire Insurance Department regulates life insurance producers who have the ability to sell fixed or variable annuities. In order to sell fixed annuities, applicants must pass the state producer life Insurance exam administered by Prometric after the completion of New Hampshire-approved pre-licensing courses.
Continuing education requirements of 24 hours every two years must be fulfilled to maintain a life insurance producer license under New Hampshire’s Bureau of Insurance regulations.
New Hampshire life insurance producers who plan to sell variable annuities must also seek securities licensure. This involves passing the Series 6 Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Limited Representative Exam or the Series 7 General Securities Representative Exam. Variable contracts agents are subject to both FINRA’s continuing education requirements as well as those required by the New Hampshire Insurance Department.