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Meet Tim Grizzle, a financial adviser
Certified financial planner Tim Grizzle develops and implements financial plans for individuals, businesses and organizations. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Working for a living Financial planning

This summer, our In Schools page focuses on career options available to recent graduates and features stories from professionals with unique jobs.

Financial adviser at a glance

Overview: Personal financial advisors assess the financial needs of individuals. Advisors use their knowledge of investments, tax laws and insurance to recommend financial options to individuals. They help them to identify and plan to meet short- and long-term goals. Planners help clients with retirement and estate planning, funding the college education of children and general investment choices. Many also provide tax advice or sell life insurance. Although most planners offer advice on a wide range of topics, some specialize in areas such as retirement and estate planning or risk management.
Education requirements: Employers usually do not require a specific field of study for personal financial advisors, but a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, economics, business, mathematics or law provides good preparation for the occupation. Courses in investments, taxes, estate planning and risk management are also helpful.
Outlook: Growth will be especially strong for personal financial advisors, which are projected to be among the 10 fastest growing occupations. Despite strong job growth, keen competition will continue for these well-paid jobs, especially for new entrants.
Median annual earnings: $66,120

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Grizzle's tax preparation and financial planning firm, Georgia Logic, focuses on high-end tax preparation and some financial planning; he says the two go hand-in-hand, especially when working with customers who have high incomes.

Grizzle has also written a book, "Creating Wealth in a Turbulent Economy," which analyzes the state of today's economy and how to make the most out of it.

To become a financial adviser, Grizzle said the key is a combination of schooling and on-the-job training that gets you qualified for certain certifications.

Question: What do you do in your office?

Answer: I took a little different path. I'm a CPA, and I was in the CPA business for 15, 16 years. I'm a tax professional by training, so moving into financial planning as a tax professional is a logical step. (Our office) is still a mix - it's part of my accounting practice. We do a lot of high-end tax returns along with financial planning.

Q: How do you become a financial planner?

A: The rules were different when I got mine (CPA certification). In today's environment, you need an accounting degree and then the equivalent of hours in graduate school for a five-year degree. In public accounting you need to work two years under a certified public accountant, in private accounting it's five years. For the financial part, there are several designations out there; I'm certified as a PFS, personal financial specialist.

It's tests and experience and education and continued education.

Q: Would today's students likely go to college for this profession?

A: There are graduate programs in the bigger schools for certified financial planning; Georgia State has one. The graduate work would go a long way in your education requirements. Typically, someone would work while they're going to school.

Q: Do you have any advice for students thinking about this field?

A: I think, with the volatility of today's markets, we have to teach ourselves to get away from the traditional buy-and-hold strategy and get toward a buy-and-manage or a buy-and-monitor. It's a more active investing style than historically we've probably taken. It's more of an active style.

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