For those who enjoy assisting people with money management issues, a career as a financial advisor might be an attractive option. However, future financial advisors may need some fiscal help of their own as they figure out how to pay for the education that is needed to pursue this occupation.
In an attempt to foster a new generation of financial advisors, private businesses and associations in the finance industry have developed scholarships and grant programs. There are several ways for future financial advisors to find funding for training and professional development.
Education Needed to Become a Financial Advisor
One of the most obvious paths to becoming a financial advisor is to earn a degree in business with an emphasis in finance. College and universities offer degrees in finance from the associate level to doctorate level. However, you don't have to have a degree in finance to become a financial advisor. According to a 2009 poll by The Financial Planning Association, 88% of financial planners and advisors started out with a different day job.
To get an entry-level position, you'll need at least an associate's degree, but a bachelor's degree is preferred by most employers. There are also a number of certifications and licenses that financial advisors need to obtain. Depending on the area of financial advising that you want to go into, the exams for these credentials can cost hundreds of dollars.
Scholarships from Private Businesses
Graduates in finance and related fields are in high demand, which is why corporations and endowments have funds set aside for undergraduate and graduate students who are pursing degrees in these areas. The TD Ameritrade Institutional NextGen Scholarship is one example. Each year, the company awards $5,000 scholarships to 10 students. The recipients must be current freshman, sophomores or juniors who are pursing a bachelor's degree in financial planning at an accredited four-year college or university. The students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0.
Some of the top academic programs for financial advisors offer both a solid curriculum and a wealth of scholarship money. For instance, The College for Financial Planning offers scholarships based on merit to graduate-level students who are new to financial planning and those who already have experience in the field.
The Robert J. Glovsky Scholarship Fund provides money for graduate-level students who are enrolled in the financial planning program at Boston University's Metropolitan College Center for Professional Education. The $2,000 merit-based awards are given out annually. Texas Tech University and Virginia Tech University also offer several scholarships for financial planning majors.
Organization/Association Scholarships and Grants
Networking and continuing education are two common reasons for professionals to join organizations that are made up of people in their field. Another benefit is to become eligible for scholarships that are only available to members. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors offers a Certificate in Financial Planning (CFP) Scholarship that reimburses the recipients for the full fee of taking the CFP exam after they pass. The group also awards scholarships to attend their two annual conferences. The scholarships cover all costs including registration fee, travel and hotel.
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and their partner organizations offer scholarships every year for undergraduate and graduate accounting students. Finance majors who want to use their degrees for a career in local or state government can get financial assistance from the Government Finance Officer Association (GFOA). The GFOA awards $10,000 and $5,000 scholarships to full-time undergraduate and graduate students annually.
The Bottom Line
Financial advisors are in demand, and the industry's businesses and associations are willing to pay to help recruit new people to this profession. Aspiring advisors should take advantage of all of the free money that is available on their path to building a successful career.