A financial planning degree is the most internationally recognizable qualification in the field. In order to attain an accredited degree, a candidate must complete a formal program of studies at an institute of higher education. Holders of bachelor's degrees in related business disciplines such as finance, economics and accounting may also find work as financial planners. Many institutions at both undergraduate and postgraduate degree levels offer financial planning degree programs.
Although exact admissions requirements depend on the institution, a good undergraduate financial planning degree program will normally expect candidates to hold high secondary school grades in English and math. Students need to have completed a bachelor's program in a cognate discipline in order to gain entry to a master's in financial planning degree program and, in turn, the master's degree can form a basis for further studies at the doctoral level. Very few financial planners pursue a doctoral financial planning degree unless they plan to teach the subject or are interested in contributing research to the field.
Financial planning refers to a type of financial consultancy tailored to the needs of individual clients as opposed to companies or other organizations. Financial planners work closely with their clients to decide upon strategies for managing and generating wealth. They frequently forge long-term relationships and revise their plans to suit changes in the economy or in their clients' own financial circumstances and goals.
The career success of a financial planner depends on what company he or she works for and, when working independently, on the clients the financial planner can attract. The best companies and clients are often more interested in the financial planner's experience and record of accomplishment than in their levels of studies. Most financial planners hold only a bachelor's degree, opting to invest their time after this first degree in building their portfolios and accumulating experience.
The duration of a financial planning degree varies according to the level. A bachelor's degree generally takes between three to five years to complete; a master's degree, between one and three; and a PhD, between three and five. It is also common for professionals to seek certification and to join professional associations. One of the most widely known credentials in financial planning globally is the U.S.-based Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification. In order to gain this certification, candidates must possess an appropriate bachelor's degree, three years of professional experience and pass the CFP certification exam and background check.