Are you considering a rewarding career in finance and looking to explore how to become a wealth manager? This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential steps to get started, including:
- Selecting various certifications to enhance your expertise;
- Understanding the day-to-day scope of work as a wealth manager; and
- Gaining insights into the average salaries in the field
Whether you’re just beginning your finance career or want to specialize further, this article covers everything you need to get started.
Becoming a Wealth Manager
To become a wealth manager, you’ll usually need an education in finance or economics and/or relevant work experience for hands-on skills in financial planning and client management.
You also can choose to obtain professional certifications in order to enhance your expertise in specific areas (e.g., investment strategies, retirement planning) or to pursue a specific career speciality.
Below, we’ve outlined various certification options to guide you on your path to becoming a wealth manager. Each option suits different experience levels and interests.
Career Entry Designations
For entry-level financial advisors and wealth managers.
1. Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional (FPQP)
The FPQP certification offers an introduction to financial planning, including client communications, ethical considerations, and basic planning techniques.
This designation is ideal for entry-level paraplanners or administrative staff in financial planning offices because it enables them to understand essential responsibilities and build a career foundation.
For more information, check out our FPQP Designation article.
2. Wealth Management Specialist
Focusing on diverse financial products and risk management techniques, the Wealth Management Specialist (WMS) certification suits beginners who want to become investment or wealth management professionals.
The WMS designation covers the fundamentals of financial markets, investment strategies, and client relationship-building.
Interested in learning more? Read our Wealth Management Specialist article.
Early Career Designations
For professionals seeking to grow and specialize in specific areas of wealth management.
1. Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS)
The AAMS designation targets professionals interested in deepening their understanding of asset management and investment strategies.
The course covers a variety of topics, such as:
- Asset allocation
- Risk reduction
- Investment principles
Becoming an AAMS could be a great idea, depending on your career aspirations, if you’re an entry-level financial or asset and wealth management advisor.
For more information, we recommend checking out our AAMS Certification overview.
2. Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor (ADPA)
Tailored for financial advisors who specialize in family and domestic partnership financial planning, the ADPA certification delves into estate planning, taxation, and legal considerations. If you aim to provide financial guidance to domestic partners, this certification will go a long way in providing the expertise you’ll need to serve your clients.
See our ADPA Designation article for more information.
3. Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC)
The CRPC certification focuses on retirement planning, offering detailed insights into the following topics:
- Income strategies
- Estate planning
- Retirement benefits
If you’re interested in providing comprehensive guidance to individuals and/or organizations regarding their retirement goals as a wealth manager, getting a CRPC designation may be the right choice for you.
Need more information? Check out our CRPC Designation article.
4. Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist (CRPS)
Designed for financial professionals dealing with corporate retirement plans, the CRPS certification offers in-depth knowledge of plan design, compliance, implementation, and administration.
If you want to specialize in organizational retirement planning and you’re an entry-level financial advisor, we recommend you look into becoming a CRPS.
For more information, see our CRPS Designation article.
Mid Career Designations
For established professionals seeking to enhance their expertise in specific areas.
1. Accredited Behavioral Finance Professional (ABFP)
Focusing on behavioral finance, the ABFP certification teaches established professionals how to understand and leverage client behavior in relation to financial planning.
If you’re looking to enhance your client relationships and create personalized strategies, this course’s psychological insights and practical tools could prove beneficial.
See our ABFP Designation article for more information.
2. Accredited Portfolio Management Advisor (APMA)
The APMA designation supports professionals managing diverse portfolios.
It covers a range of portfolio management-related topics, such as:
- Investment policies
- Risk management
- Asset allocation
- Performance measurement
If you’re currently in a mid-tier career position and interested in learning how to handle investment portfolios, the APMA certification likely can help you deepen your analytical abilities.
Check out our APMA Designation overview for more information.
3. Accredited Wealth Management Advisor (AWMA)
The AWMA certification covers advanced concepts in:
- Wealth planning
- Portfolio management
- Social Security and Medicare planning
- Investment principles
- Tax and retirement planning
If you’re currently aiming to expand your knowledge in these areas in order to offer comprehensive financial strategies to your clients, the AWMA designation may be the right choice for you.
For more information, we recommend checking out our AWMA Designation article.
4. Chartered SRI Counselor (CSRIC)
Focusing on Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), the CSRIC certification is tailored for those interested in ethical investment strategies.
If environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors are central to your current practice — or you expect them to be in the future — this designation can equip you with the necessary tools you’ll need in order to distinguish yourself as a specialist in the field of sustainable finance.
See our CSRIC Designation article for more information.
5. Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA)
The CAIA designation focuses on alternative investments, such as hedge funds and private equity.
If you’re currently operating as a financial advisor and looking to specialize in this niche, becoming a CAIA can allow you to obtain the necessary knowledge, research and risk management techniques, and ethical considerations you’ll need to succeed.
For more information, see our CAIA Certification article.
6. Financial Risk Manager (FRM)
The FRM certification targets professionals handling financial risk.
Covering risk control, market risk, credit risk, and liquidity risk, it can be an ideal designation for you if you’re a risk analyst, investment manager, or auditor in the financial field and currently looking to specialize in this area.
Check out our in-depth FRM Certification overview for more information.
Advanced Career Designations
For experienced professionals seeking to advance to senior roles or specialized areas.
1. Masters in Personal Financial Planning
This master’s program provides a comprehensive understanding of financial advising and planning, including advanced investment strategies, tax planning, and wealth preservation.
You may want to consider this course if you’re an experienced professional seeking senior roles within the financial sector or interested in working in academia (e.g., as a researcher and/or in a teaching position).
For more information, you can have a look at our Masters in Financial Planning overview.
2. Masters in Financial Analysis
Designed for professionals seeking high-level analytical roles, this master’s program covers complex financial data analysis techniques like:
- Quantitative methods
- Financial modeling
- Investment analysis
If you’ve already accumulated experience within the financial services sector and want to specialize in analyzing financial data, interpreting market trends, and advising wealth management firms on investment strategies, pursuing a master’s in financial analysis can prove beneficial.
See our Masters in Financial Analysis article for additional information.
Wealth Manager Salary
The salary of a wealth manager in the United States can vary significantly based on several factors, including their location, expertise, years of experience, and certifications.
The average wealth manager salary as of July 25, 2023, stands at $82,024 with a typical range falling between $67,668 and $100,638. It’s important to recognize that these figures are only averages, and individual earnings can vary widely.
Location often plays a crucial role with wealth managers in major financial centers typically earning more. Similarly, expertise and experience can substantially influence their earning potential. Those with specialized certifications and many years in the profession likely will command higher salaries.
These aspects, combined with other individual circumstances and market conditions, contribute to the wide range of salary expectations in the private wealth management field. Thus, aspiring wealth managers should consider their own unique career paths, qualifications, and goals when evaluating their potential earnings in this profession.
For more in-depth information, we recommend having a look at our state-specific Wealth Manager Salary overview.
What Does a Wealth Manager Do
A wealth manager plays a multifaceted role in guiding clients to achieve their long-term financial goals. Unlike a general financial advisor, who may focus more broadly on financial planning, a wealth manager offers a more specialized service tailored to the unique needs of affluent clients.
Their day-to-day responsibilities include comprehensive financial planning, investment management, tax planning, estate planning, and more.
A wealth manager’s ultimate goal is to preserve and grow their clients’ wealth through a customized strategy that aligns with individual financial objectives and risk tolerance. It’s a role that requires in-depth knowledge of the finance sector, strategic thinking, and a focus on building lasting client relationships.
Note: For more information, see our What is Wealth Management article.
How to Become a Wealth Manager FAQ
How do people become wealth managers?
They obtain a strong educational foundation in finance or economics, gain relevant work experience, and often pursue specialized certifications. See our How to Become a Wealth Manager article for more information. Alternatively, you can contact financial services industry associations like the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).
How do I become a wealth manager without a degree?
Becoming a wealth manager without a degree is challenging, but not impossible. This is because gaining hands-on experience, developing strong networking skills, and obtaining relevant certifications can compensate for the lack of a formal degree. See our How to Become a Financial Advisor article for a more in-depth overview.
Do wealth managers make money?
Yes, wealth managers earn a good income by offering financial planning, investment, and asset management services. The average salary in the United States at the moment is $82,024, but this can vary widely based on factors like experience, location, and certifications. For more information, see our Wealth Manager Salary article.
Do wealth managers need a CFA designation?
While a chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation isn’t a mandatory requirement to become a wealth manager, it can prove highly beneficial. This is because having a CFA designation — similarly to having a certified financial planner (CFP) designation from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards — can demonstrate a strong understanding of investment management principles.