People feel a major sense of accomplishment when they overcome a big financial hurdle. When they’ve eliminated piles of debt, started saving money for retirement, launched their own businesses, or made great real estate investments, they often look for ways to share the secrets of their success with other people. If you’re someone who wants to put your newfound financial savvy to good use, then one of the best things you can do is use your knowledge to help others.
Some people are so motivated by their financial accomplishments that they decide to become finance professionals. They might go to business school or earn a graduate degree in securities analysis and portfolio management if they have the drive to become a future financier. However, you don’t have to become a professional financial advisor to help others meet their financial challenges. You can take advantage of volunteer opportunities, participate in online discussions, and share your hard-won knowledge with people who would benefit from your experience.
Many community centers, particularly in urban areas, offer opportunities to volunteer. The IRS has two volunteer opportunities for people that can prepare simple tax returns: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly. You can work in non-certified roles as a greeter or screener, or you can become an IRS-certified tax preparer who helps low-to-moderate income families fill out their tax returns.
If tax preparation doesn’t interest you, you can also volunteer in your community to help people with budgeting, debt reduction, asset building, and other financial issues. The AARP Foundation Finances 50+ gives you the opportunity to teach financial literacy courses or work with seniors one-on-one. AARP operates this program in communities all over the country, so contact them to see if you can join a group in your area.
Many ready-made personal finance programs can be shared in community centers, churches, and other small groups. The National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) offers coursework toward becoming a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI). After completing the courses and passing the tests, you can use the CFEI credential in your own volunteering. You’re also accepted into the NFEC’s Personal Finance Speakers Association, which can connect you with opportunities to share what you’ve learned.
Becoming a Certified Financial Planner
For some people who’ve conquered major financial obstacles, the desire to help others face financial challenges turns into a career path. Certified financial planners (CFP) complete coursework and exams so that they can provide financial advice on a professional basis. They also have to log job experience and adhere to ethical standards.
- Education. Many community colleges offer accredited CFP courses. CFPs have to complete the curriculum, and they must also have a bachelor’s degree to be eligible to take exams.
- Exams. After completing the education requirements, students must pass the CFP Certification Exam.
- Experience. People who want to become CFPs either have to earn three years or professional experience or complete a two-year apprenticeship.
- Ethics. After completing all of the education, exam, and experience requirements, applicants for the CFP credential must submit to a detailed background check. CFP applicants also have to meet the CFP Board’s fitness standards, which exclude candidates with problems like felony convictions or a history of multiple bankruptcies.
Making a Living as a Finance Professional
For people who discover a passion for in-depth financial matters beyond just personal finance, finance-related careers can become both lucrative and personally rewarding. Some professions that can leverage financial knowledge include:
- Investment advisor. People who want to become investment advisors can apply for an entry-level job at a brokerage and take the Series 65 exam. After passing the exam and fulfilling any state requirements, they can continue working for the brokerage or open their own firms.
- Accountant. Accountants perform a wide range of jobs including tax preparation, budgeting, reporting, and auditing. Accounting clerks can start with an associate degree, and most entry-level accountant positions require a bachelor’s degree. Accountants can complete further training to become certified public accountants (CPA).
- Top-level finance careers. People willing to complete graduate training in finance can earn job titles like hedge fund manager, equity strategist, investment banker, and chief investment officer.
If you’re breaking financial bad habits and replacing them with good financial practices, congratulations! You can do even more by sharing your knowledge, whether you do it voluntarily or as a financial professional.