Can You Become a Financial Advisor with an Accounting Degree?

Financial AdvisorAs an accounting student moves through their academic studies, they can decide that they would like to pursue a career that is outside of traditional accounting and discover that they can become a financial advisor with an accounting degree. A financial advisor helps individuals and companies to manage, protect and grow their financial assets. The job requires a combination of quantitative and interpersonal skills as well as fundamental knowledge of investment principles. Here are some of the activities conducted by financial advisors, their typical academic backgrounds and the professional licenses needed to perform the job.

Functions of Financial Advisors

Many wealth management firms hire financial advisors to sell clients financial products. However, successful financial advisors are able to listen to their clients’ issues, assess their needs and help them to create effective strategies to solve their financial challenges. These challenges could mean acquiring a comfortable retirement twenty years into the future or handling additional, unexpected financial responsibilities like the birth of a special needs child. After these financial advisors have engaged their clients in the financial evaluation process, they inform their clients about the different products that are available to them. Most investment products that are offered to the public require extensive technical, financial knowledge to really understand their benefits and risks. Accounting degree holders usually have taken various finance and economics courses during their academic careers that help them to understand and communicate the value of all types of investment products.

Education and Training for Financial Advisors

Wealth management firms usually require that those performing the role of financial advisor have an undergraduate degree, but they do not typically specify the major. Preferred undergraduate majors for financial advisors have traditionally been finance, economics, accounting and business. Because of the sales aspect of the job, many firms are actively recruiting psychology majors to perform in the role as well. This variety in academic backgrounds indicates that the job requires more than just knowledge of investments, and financial services companies recognize that those technical investment skills can be acquired through professional development training that large companies usually provide.

Featured Programs

Professional Licenses for Financial Advisors

While wealth management firms may be flexible about a candidate’s academic background, they usually require that financial advisors who work directly with clients be licensed through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Since many of the financial planning strategies that are promoted by wealth management firms relate to the purchase of stocks, bonds or mutual funds, only financial advisors who are licensed through FINRA can be effective in the role. The licenses that financial advisors earn depend on the products that they plan to promote to their clients, according to the Houston Chronicle. For instance, financial advisors who only want to sell mutual funds and certain types of annuities can do so with a Series 6 license. Those who need to sell an array of investment products like stocks, bonds and mutual funds must earn their Series 7 license. The Series 65 license that is administered by the North American Securities Administrators Association can be earned by financial advisors who only give investment advice and do not buy or sell investment products. All licenses require candidates to take comprehensive finance related exams, and the classes taken by those with accounting degrees have covered many of the exam topics.

Related Resource: Become a Comptroller


University graduates with accounting degrees have many career options available to them. To become a financial advisor with an accounting degree, the person must enjoy interacting with people and sharing knowledge with them about financial matters.