A personal financial specialist is an accountant who helps individuals plan and manage their financial resources. The specific title of personal financial specialist is designated to accountants in the United States who gain several thousand hours of experience and pass a written exam. In general, the job title can apply to a licensed professional in any country who primarily offers financial planning services. Most specialists work for accounting firms and consulting businesses, though some experienced workers are self-employed.
Financial specialists have expert knowledge of the principles of saving money, making smart investments, and planning for the future. They work with individuals and families to evaluate their current financial situations and help them determine long- and short-term goals. Specialists quantify their clients' assets and liabilities to determine their net worth, and speculate how situations may change in the future based on income changes, retirement, and investments. A specialist may work with a client for a short period of time to get his or her financial situation in order, but most professionals maintain the same client base for many years to adjust and maintain their plans as necessary.
The details and paperwork involved in setting up retirement funds, savings accounts, investment portfolios, and final wills is too much for many people to handle on their own. A personal financial specialist can handle most of these duties by determining how much money a client will need after retirement and choosing the most appropriate means of distributing his or her resources. In addition, a personal financial specialist can prepare and file a client's tax forms to ensure the best possible outcome.
An individual who wants to become a personal financial specialist usually needs to obtain at least a bachelor's degree in accounting. In the United States, a professional can earn Certified Personal Accountant (CPA) credentials by passing requisite state and national exams. A CPA must gain at least 3,000 hours of experience with personal finance matters, pursue continuing education courses, and pass an additional exam to become a personal financial specialist.
An accountant who gains several years of experience in the field generally has many opportunities for advancement. A CPA at an accounting firm who excels at his or her job may be able to become a senior consultant, working with the most esteemed clients and overseeing the work of other professionals in the company. Many personal financial specialists decide to open their own practices, where they can set their own hours and hire staff.