Financial Planning Careers Are Open for Business

Thanks in part to the Great Wealth Transfer, jobs in financial planning are expected to grow in the next decade.

A financial planner smiles as she looks out the window of her office.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In preparation for the post-college scramble for jobs, students often migrate toward familiar professions. But many students searching for a career in a prominent field pivot to something else before they graduate. How many students walk onto campus as pre-med majors only to switch to another discipline after one semester of organic chemistry?

Today’s students seek a balance that combines financial success with a fulfilling lifestyle and the chance to make a positive impact. Recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics reveals that business disciplines award more undergraduate degrees than any other field, with some of the most lucrative opportunities for new graduates.

However, many of these jobs lack the desirable work-life balance, schedule flexibility, sense of personal impact and other perks found in financial planning careers. Jobs in financial planning are anticipated to grow more than 10% in the next decade, making it an attractive field for those seeking a well-rounded and prosperous professional life.

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The growing need for financial advice

The current macroeconomic environment and evolving demographic trends are key factors contributing to growth in the profession. Rising interest rates and a volatile stock market continue to create investor unease, and the Great Wealth Transfer means $84 trillion of generational wealth will reallocate by 2045 — giving many people a reason to hire a financial adviser for the first time.

At the same time, nearly 4 in 10 advisers are expected to retire within the next 10 years, according to Cerulli Associates, leaving wealth management firms with more clients and a smaller pool of advisers to serve them.

Financial planning employers recognize these conflicting trends and are taking action. According to data from CFP Board Center for Financial Planning, total job postings increased 65% in the first half of 2023, including a 203% increase for roles requiring one to four years of experience. What’s more, internship listings have increased 55% year over year.

This uptick in demand is well documented. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment of personal financial advisers to grow 13% by 2031, which is much faster than average across all occupations. But today’s young professionals want more than growth opportunities and a steady income. They want a sense of professional purpose as well.

A career with purpose

The need for additional financial planning professionals aligns with many students’ desire to pursue a purpose-driven career. Nationally, according to a survey from Gallup and Bates College, nearly all four-year college graduates (95%) consider a sense of purpose at least moderately important in their work.

Many young people say they want a career that helps people. Enter financial planning, often known as a “helping profession.” Financial planners, such as CFP® professionals, work closely with clients to understand their goals and develop a financial plan that meets their needs. Through pro bono work, planners also make a meaningful difference in the lives of those facing barriers to reliable financial guidance.

The path to becoming a CFP® professional

Aspiring financial planners can pursue different paths in college. Young professionals in wealth management, financial consulting, operations or business administration often transition seamlessly into financial planning roles. CFP Board Registered Programs train college students who aspire to become CFP® professionals, who enjoy benefits like remote work, flexible schedules and a median salary of more than $95,000, which grows substantially with experience.

CFP Board Center for Financial Planning provides scholarships for students entering the financial planning field, with a focus on building a talent pipeline that reflects the diversity of the U.S. As of December 2023, the Center for Financial Planning has awarded 317 scholarships to women, 45% of whom are currently enrolled in education programs and working toward CFP® certification. Additionally, of the 317 female recipients, 50 have become CFP® professionals.

With nearly 40% of financial advisers expected to leave the workforce in the next decade — and the Great Wealth Transfer increasing the need for competent and ethical financial advice —demand for financial planners is soaring. Pursuing a career in financial planning offers recent graduates a purpose-driven, fulfilling option and a lucrative and flexible professional path.

Interested in learning more? Prospective financial planners can consult the CFP Board Career Center to explore internships and careers in financial planning.

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This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Kevin R. Keller, CAE
Chief Executive Officer, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board)

Kevin R. Keller, CAE, is CEO of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. CFP Board sets standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CFP® certification – one of the most respected certifications in financial services and one of the few accredited financial services designations. He leads CFP Board to benefit the public by granting CFP® certification and upholding it as the standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning.