Jobs Outlook: Financial Analysts and Personal Financial Advisors

Increased investment by businesses and individuals is expected to result in faster-than-average employment growth of financial analysts and personal financial advisors through 2012. Both occupations will benefit as baby boomers save for retirement and as a generally better educated and wealthier population requires investment advice. In addition, people are living longer and must plan to finance more years of retirement. The globalization of the securities markets will increase the need for analysts and advisors to help investors make financial choices.

Deregulation of the financial services industry is also expected to spur demand for financial analysts and personal financial advisors. Since 1999, banks, insurance companies, and brokerage firms have been allowed to broaden their financial services. Many firms are adding investment advice to their list of services and are expected to increase their hiring of personal financial advisors. Numerous banks are now entering the securities brokerage and investment banking fields and will increasingly need the skills of financial analysts in these areas.

Employment of personal financial advisors is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2012. The rapid expansion of self-directed retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans, is expected to continue. As the number and complexity of investments rises, more individuals will look to financial advisors to help manage their money. Financial advisors who have either the CFP (R) certification or ChFC designation are expected to have the best opportunities.

Employment of financial analysts is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2012. As the number of mutual funds and the amount of assets invested in the funds increase, mutual-fund companies will need increased numbers of financial analysts to recommend which financial products the funds should buy or sell.

Financial analysts also will be needed in the investment banking field, where they help companies raise money and work on corporate mergers and acquisitions. However, growth in demand for financial analysts to do company research will be constrained by the implementation of reform proposals calling for investment firms to subsidize independent research boutiques and separate research from investment banking. Firms may try to contain the costs of reform by eliminating research jobs.

Demand for financial analysts in investment banking fluctuates because investment banking is sensitive to changes in the stock market. In addition, further consolidation in the financial services industry may eliminate some financial analyst positions, dampening overall employment growth somewhat. Competition is expected to be keen for these highly lucrative positions, with many more applicants than jobs.