Financial Planning DegreePeople have always relied upon effective financial planners, but more people are increasingly concerned with how their money is invested because of concerns about the solvency of Social Security, drops in the stock market, and rising levels of corporate fraud. Likewise, many baby boomers are preparing to retire. As a result, demand for qualified financial planners is on the rise.
Those interested in working as financial planners can learn the skills necessary to work in this field by completing a financial planning certification or degree program. Students enrolled financial planning programs will learn the basics of investing, statistics, finance, and accounting. Online programs are now very appealing to many since they can be completed anywhere, at any time. Since more banks and insurance companies are providing financial services, more job opportunities are available for Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). Additionally, since more people are investing in 401(K) funds, demand for CFPs will be strong through the near future.
How to Choose a Financial Planning CollegeStudents looking a to complete a degree or certification program in financial planning should consider several factors when selecting a school. First, they need to determine which area of financial planning they want to be involved in (e.g., taxation, portfolio management, estate planning, employee benefits, insurance etc.) Special consideration should be given to colleges and universities that are highly ranked or specialize in a student's area of interest.
Students should also consider whether or not a school offers internship opportunities with a financial planning firm. A good internship can make a world of difference when it comes time to secure employment following graduation. If internship opportunities are not available, a school should at least be willing to provide a letter of recommendation for those students who excel in their financial planning program.
Another consideration is the level of hands-on training a school provides. Many colleges and universities with good financial planning programs offer students the opportunity to manage real portfolios.
Bachelor's Degree in Financial PlanningThe most common degree individuals earn in preparation for a career in financial planning is a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Finance. This four-year degree program is designed to help students develop quantitative, analytical and conceptual skills that are important to the financial planning process. Not only will this degree prepare students for a career in financial planning, it will also provide them the option of pursuing careers in corporate finance, investments and banking, among others. Many Bachelor of Science in Finance degree programs offer financial planning and investment concentrations for students who plan on pursuing a career as a financial planner.
A bachelor's degree in finance offers core coursework which will cover the basic principles of finance. Additional courses, and elective courses, often cover more in-depth financial planning topics including portofolio management, risk analysis and investments. Common courses found in many finance bachelor's degree programs include:
- Principles of finance
- Fundamentals of investments
- Financial management
- Financial markets
- Risk management
- Corporate finance and valuation
- Financial statement analysis
- Managerial accounting
- Retirement planning
MBA in Financial PlanningAnother option for financial planners, which is growing in popularity, is the MBA in Financial Planning. To a much larger degree than a Bachelor of Science in Finance, the MBA in Financial Planning incorporates ethics, experience, analysis and research in its curriculum. Completing this degree will prepare students for professional certification as a personal financial planner. Many students completing an MBA in Financial Planning will eventually focus on wealth management for individuals of high net worth.
Coursework in this type of an MBA degree program is often multidisciplinary (and very rigorous). Major-specific courses usually cover topics including:
- Financial planning principles
- Estate planning
- Econonics of management
- Tax management
- Laws and ethics of financial planning
- Portfolio management
- Organizational behavior
Financial Planning Degrees and Programs
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