Wealth Management Associates


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If a career as a wealth management associate sounds interesting, take as many business, economics, accounting, and mathematics classes as possible. Because your daily work will involve frequent oral and written communication with your colleagues and clients, it’s a good idea to take English and speech classes. Sign-up for computer science, database management, and other technology-related courses because associates use customer relationship management databases, financial modeling software, and a variety of in-house and online databases to do their work. Psychology classes will help you to understand human behavior, and foreign language courses will come in handy if you work with clients who do not speak English fluently.

Postsecondary Education

Wealth management associates have bachelor’s degrees (and sometimes advanced degrees) in finance, mathematics, accounting, economics, business, entrepreneurism, financial engineering, or quantitative finance. Some may have degrees, double majors, or minors in sales or marketing. Others have law degrees. A degree from an Ivy League or other top-tier college is required if you want to work at a large investment bank or other top employer.

Other Education or Training

Most professional associations provide continuing education (CE) classes, webinars, workshops, and seminars. These are great ways to keep your skills up to date. For example, the Institute for Private Investors offers five-day wealth management programs in collaboration with The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The American Bankers Association, Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, Association for Financial Professionals, Association of International Wealth Management, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, and other organizations provide CE opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Many investment banks provide ongoing training for associates to help them learn about developments in the wealth management industry, keep their financial skills up to date, and hone their soft skills.


The Investments & Wealth Institute offers the online Essentials of Investment Consulting Certificate Program, which covers core topics in the investment consulting process such as the various types of investments and the mathematics of managing money and building portfolios. It also provides the Applied Behavioral Finance Certificate Program. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Many employers require applicants to have (or currently be pursuing) the certified financial planner (CFP) or chartered financial consultant (ChFC) credentials. To receive the CFP mark of certification, which is offered by the CFP Board, candidates must meet education and experience requirements, pass an examination, and agree to follow the CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Rules of Conduct, and Financial Planning Practice Standards. The American College of Financial Services offers the ChFC designation. To receive this credential, candidates must complete certain course work stipulated by The American College, meet experience requirements, and agree to uphold The American College’s Code of Ethics and Procedures.

Several other organizations offer certification to financial planning professionals, including:

  • Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (accredited financial counselor)
  • fi360 (accredited investment fiduciary, accredited investment fiduciary analyst, professional plan consultant)
  • Institute of Business and Finance (certified fund specialist and certified annuity specialist)
  • Investment Adviser Association (chartered investment counselor)
  • Investments & Wealth Institute (certified investment management analyst, chartered private wealth advisor).

Associates are usually required to obtain their Series 7 and Series 63 or 66 credentials from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the self-regulatory arm of the investment industry. The Series 7, or General Securities Representative certification, allows you to buy or sell, or solicit the purchase or sale, of all securities products, including corporate securities, municipal securities, municipal fund securities, options, direct participation programs, investment company products, and variable contracts. It’s the most basic form of certification for anybody involved with the markets. The majority of firms will also require a Series 63 registration, which requires knowledge of state securities laws and allows you to be a securities agent. Other firms may require the Series 66, which covers the same ground as a Series 63, but also certifies you to act as a registered investment adviser.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

To become an associate, you’ll need two to three years of experience as an analyst at a wealth management, hedge fund, private equity, or venture capital firm, or experience in sales and trading positions with a financial employer.  

According to research conducted by global wealth market research and strategy consultancy firm Scorpio Partnership, both young and older investors agree that the most important qualities for a financial advisor are integrity, professionalism, and intelligence. But one interesting difference emerges based on the age group of the investors. Investors who were under the age of 40 placed more emphasis on the importance of soft skills as compared with investors who were over age 60. “Under 40” investors rated the following soft skills as important: creativity, patience, empathy, and sociability. Advisors who provide services to younger clients should take note of these evolving skill sets, especially given the fact that Generation X investors surveyed by professional services firm EY cited “advisor relationship” as the second-most important factor (after portfolio performance) as to why they remain with a particular advisor. 

Other important traits for associates include excellent communication, persuasive, problem-solving, interpersonal, and organizational skills; a passion for the field of investing; impeccable ethics and a willingness to puts the needs of the client before those of their firm; strong attention to detail; and the ability to understand and explain sophisticated financial concepts and issues to investors. They should also be proficient in financial modeling, customer relationship management, and basic office (e.g., Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Word) software.