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Curtin University of Technology
Curtin Insight

Helping people deal with their money

By Dr. Abey P. Philip

A financial consultant helps people and organisations decide how to invest their money.  

A person who is interested in becoming a financial consultant can get started by working for mortgage lenders, tax companies or banks. This will allow them to gain valuable experience in handling loans and provide other financial services. In addition, they will have a better understanding of the various finance-related issues that they will deal with once they start their career as a financial consultant.

Financial consultants solicit business from clients and are essentially paid to tell someone or some organisation how to handle their money in the most efficient and profitable way. Sometimes referred to as a securities or investment analyst, the financial analyst is concerned with providing a comprehensive understanding of the financial status of a given investment opportunity. A qualified financial consultant can find employment in a number of different settings.

What will I do?
Financial consultants should have a talent for doing research. Since one of the key roles of a financial analyst is to gather data that influences the decision to invest in a particular venture, the competent analyst must be aware of the apparent sources of pertinent financial data. Along with the common sources, the analyst will also have some creative ideas of unorthodox routes of investigation that may be necessary to locate relevant information.

Is it for me?
Financial consultants should have a degree in business, accounting statistics, insurance, business management or finance. They should also possess honesty and integrity. Those are the most important characteristics of a financial consultant.

In addition, financial consultants should be pro-active and be able to read the customer’s mind and offer products according to the customer’s needs.

Specialisation
Financial analysis is a field with an increasing emphasis on global markets and a range of investment structures, and vast career opportunities exist. As the number of mutual funds and the amount of assets invested in the funds increase, mutual fund companies will need increased numbers of financial consultants to recommend which financial products the funds should buy or sell. Financial consultants will also be needed in the investment-banking field, where they help companies raise money and work on corporate mergers and requisitions.

Who will employ me?
The financial consultant is responsible for creating and maintaining relationships with prospective clients with the aim to ultimately generate revenue and new business sales income for the company. Hence, banks and mutual fund companies need financial consultants to recommend which stocks and bonds they should buy or sell. Among the choices for work that are open are investment firms, mutual funds and pension funds, and insurance companies.

Career progression
The best way to forge a career path is to have clearly defined goals, a time-line to reach them and an understanding of what you need to do to get there; make sure your management knows what your goals are as well so that they can help your reach them. There are other opportunities such as in investment advice, taxation planning, income management, risk assessment and long-term planning.

Dr. Abey P. Philip heads the Economics and Finance Department of Curtin Sarawak’s School of Business. He joined the School as a lecturer in Economics in 2009. Prior to that, he was an assistant professor at SCMS-Cochin in India. Dr. Philip's primary research interest is in the areas of managerial economics and agricultural economics. His other research interests include relationship business, research methodologies, basic and applied econometrics, and stock markets. He can be contacted at abeypp@curtin.edu.my.