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A chief financial advisor or chief financial officer is a recognized leader in a financial planning and advising organization. Financial advising and planning is where professionally trained analysts use their monetary and economic expertise to assist businesses, governments, and individuals in working toward their financial goals. They assess all facets of the client's finances and prepare both long-term and short-term plans. Chief financial advisors ideally strive to find a balanced investment income, usually through relatively safe options, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
Corporations and governments often incorporate a chief financial advisor or chief financial officer to their executive staff. His or her primary duties often include the planning and managing of the organization's financial objectives within the confines of its budget and ensuring the accuracy of fiscal reports to stockholders, in the case of publicly traded companies, and to the general public. Mergers and acquisitions, investments and managing the inherent risks involved, and supervising the implementation of money-raising strategies can all fall under a chief financial advisor's purview.
The method of payment and the amount of fees charged differs from one financial advisor to another. Fee-based financial advisors receive a stipend or commission on investment products they sell in addition to the fee charged for their planning services. Some advisors are only paid via commission. Others receive payment solely from their clients via a pre-arranged or negotiated percentage of the assets they manage for them.
Most jurisdictions require financial advisors to attain licensure prior to working in that location. These requirements differ by area, based on the types of financial products sold by the advisor. In order to become a financial advisor or chief financial advisor, a person will need to research the registration and certification requirements for financial advisors in the location in which he or she wants to work. In the US, registration is managed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or state regulators. The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards is the primary organization in charge of certifying financial advisors.
The requirements a chief financial advisor, financial planner, or personal financial advisor must meet to gain professional certification are three-fold. Candidates must hold at least a bachelor's degree. A minimum of three years of financial advising experience is also mandated in many cases. Once these two eligibility requirements are met, applicants are qualified to take the certification exam. Successful completion of this exam, along with fulfilling the education and experience requirements, bestows upon the financial advisor the title of Certified Financial Planner (CFP).