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Pursing your Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Financial Planning is a big commitment – one that will impact your personal and professional life in many ways. However, with the advancement opportunities an MBA brings, many find the necessary temporary sacrifices to be worth it. Not to mention the fact that your time as a student will give you the chance to connect with your classmates, the staff and faculty, and alumni of the graduate programs at your school.

In leadership roles in the financial planning industry, an MBA is one of the requirements for entry in many cases. With the real-world experience and advanced business coursework and curriculum you are exposed to while learning and earning your MBA, you will be well prepared to lead teams, meetings, and organizations with the skills you study in your degree program.

Salaries for today’s business leaders in financial planning vary greatly among various types of organizations and at different levels of responsibility. For those with a bachelor’s degree, they can expect a certain salary and those with an online master’s in business administration can expect to enter the business world with the ability to earn much higher income than those with just a bachelor’s.

Let’s take a look at bachelor’s versus MBA earnings for three levels of employee:


What is an MBA in Financial Planning?

This position can pay off for you if you put your effort into earning your MBA in financial planning. Once you have the degree and land the position you want, you’ll begin working for an entry-level salary - once you have put some time in or if you transfer to a location where you're more in demand, you’ll see your average salary beginning to grow.

It’s not just the salary, though. You need to consider earning potential, demand for your chosen career, job growth, competition, and where you’re the most likely to be hired - whether that's state or industry. Don’t forget about doing what you need to do to advance as a financial planning manager. You want to increase your value to your employer so you can gain a more senior position.

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What Can You Do With an MBA in Financial Planning?

Financial planning is one of the fastest-growing career fields within the United States. As of 2014, the expected growth for financial planning managers was 30%, which is much faster than average. A huge number of Baby Boomers are entering retirement and they need the assistance of a knowledgeable financial analyst or planner to explain trends and help them set up their retirement accounts, 401(k)s, investments, and Social Security so that they make the best investment decisions possible and use all the tools at their disposal.

Baby Boomers aren’t the only growing client segment for financial planning managers. Looking at Millennials, this demographic is also concerned about ensuring they have their investment portfolios set up in such a way that they will benefit before they reach retirement age.

Now that you know this, you also need to consider finding an MBA program in financial planning that is approved by the Certified Financial Planning Board of Standards, or CFP Board. By opting for an educational program that has been approved by the CFB Board, you know you’ll be taking the core and elective courses that will best meet your educational needs and career plans. Once you graduate, you’ll be ready to take the Certified Financial Planner certification exam.

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When you first start your career, expect to be on the low end of the pay scale. With your certification in hand, you should be earning about $45,000 in average annual salary. Median salary is about $66,895 and, in the 90th percentile you'd earn about $120,000.

Bonuses, profit-sharing, and commissions boost your earnings picture considerably. On average, your yearly bonuses may fall in-between $5,000 and $10,000. Profit sharing helps you bring in a little less than $5,000 and commissions, depending on how well you do, could be around $24,345!

As with other finance positions, your level of experience will greatly affect your earnings. If you have skills in insurance, this will help you earn more pay.

With job growth rising between 14 and 15% between 2016 and 2026, the BLS is predicting that the demand for professionals in this role will be higher than average. This rate of growth is about twice as high as it is for other employers and job roles.

Obviously, it’s hard to predict economic downturns and a drop-off in demand for financial planning managers. The economy continues to grow at a slow, but healthy rate, which means that people are going to continue to need financial advising for their investment portfolios.

As one of the fastest-growing career fields in the United States, demand has shifted downward only slightly from the 2014-2024 forecast period to the 2016-2026 period. In the 2014-2014 period, growth was about 30%. Millennials and Baby Boomers continue to drive demand.

  • Retirement Planner
    Salary: $108,090

    After you graduate, you'll work with individuals and families interested in planning for their financial future and retirement.

    If your client is new to this area, you’ll show them how to define financial goals, organize their finances, and clarify their cash flow and spending trends.

    You may also work for businesses needing financial planning. They also have to pay taxes, monitor their spending, and maintain their earnings.

  • Financial Planning Consultant
    Salary: $78,000 to $110,000

    In this position, you'll consult with organizations needing guidance in working out difficult business problems, helping them to act on opportunities related to financial planning.

    You’ll also weave together critical analysis with financial planning disciplines that help support the organization’s success.

  • Investment Advisor
    Salary: $108,090

    You can work in an investment company, providing financial planning services to individuals and families.

    If this is your choice, you’ll help them plan for their retirements, set money aside for emergencies or future plans, and protect their wealth.

    If your clients are in retirement wanting to complete estate planning for their families, this is another area of expertise to consider.

    Perhaps you’re most interested in aiding individuals or families with personal investment planning. If so, you may be able to land a position in one of the big investment firms.

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  • Insurance Agent
    Salary: $108,090

    An insurance company may be your place of employment.

    Along with selling insurance products, you may also aid with planning for college savings, investments, and estate planning. You may also be asked to design and carry out a financial plan that fits the financial needs of your clients.

  • Money Manager
    Salary: $108,090

    Working as a personal financial planner, you may base yourself in an office, but visit clients in their homes, where you’ll discuss their needs and what their finances currently look like.

    For this particular job, you should plan to take the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) exam and receive your certification. You’ll develop financial plans for clients, analyze their financial standings, evaluate their plans and needs, then help them develop the best plan for them.

  • Corporate Financial Planner
    Salary: $100,410 up to $183,270

    You'll work as a financial planner and sell financial products your clients may need. In your job, you help clients understand the different financial instruments available and choose the right ones for their situation and goals.

    You’ll also help them plan for retirement, plan their estates, establish college funds, and assist them with general investment info and analysis

Types of Financial Planning MBA Degrees

  • Master of Science in Financial Planning
    Average Salary: $104,700
    Length: 2 years

    This master’s program is offered to graduate students seeking knowledge and experience in financial planning for corporations or small non-profit entities alike, as well as those who plan to obtain the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification. Most programs comply with the standards set by the Board of Standards for the CFP, allowing the financial planner to give guidance to clients in managing their assets, debts, and income. You’ll have options of where you work, whether you want to search for employment in insurance companies, banks, benefits/pension departments of corporations, or brokerage firms. You may also decide to establish your own financial planning firm.

  • MBA with a Finance Concentration
    Average Salary: $67,520
    Length: 1 year

    Whether you plan to work for a private corporation, in government, or start your own business, this major focuses solely on the monetary considerations that financial managers confront every day. You’ll learn how to evaluate the assets of your clients, assess the risk they are taking, and advise them on increasing their investments. This MBA program also covers the general aspects of a business career. You’ll benefit from knowing how to evaluate assessments and create future success for domestic or international companies. Because the program is accelerated, you’ll complete all your course work in about half the usual time. Once you graduate, consider joining at least one financial association.

  • Master of Science in Personal Financial Planning
    Average Salary: $89,169
    Length: 2 years

    This program may be offered by a university’s business college or within a College of Human Environmental Sciences. You, along with your traditional campus or distance program classmates, will benefit if your career plans include personal financial advising, financial analysis, being a loan officer, or becoming social or community service managers. You may be required to take classes and earn credits in estate planning, housing and real estate, household economics and finance, tax planning, retirement planning, and risk management. Many of these programs are 100% online and offered by universities all over the US. Your courses may start and end on different dates, depending on the university where you gain admission.

Sample Curriculum & Courses for Financial Planning

  • Advanced Financial Topics
    This course will focus on important financial issues that face financial managers. It is composed of extensive readings, discussion, and lecture format. You will work on various projects to increase your mastery of course topics.
  • Financial Decisions
    You will apply graduate-level financial concepts through assigned case studies to solve financial problems. You will cover additional funds needed, appropriate capital structure, future growth, and cash flow issues.
  • Financial Theory and Research II
    This course focuses on the economics of families. The focus falls on human capital development and household production. You'll cover core issues such as public policy, family life cycle spending, economics of crises, and saving and borrowing. You’ll also work on new and emerging issues in economics.
  • Financial Counseling
    This class focuses on theory and research into the interactive processes between you and your clients. You’ll work on communication techniques, the counseling environment, motivation, esteem building, methods of data intake, ethics, analysis, and verification. You’ll also cover legal issues, uses of technology to identify resources compensation, current/emerging issues, and information management.
  • Decision-Making Tools for Today’s Financial Professional
    As a finance professional, you’ll rely on a set of financial management tools as you work with clients and help them evaluate the different finance planning avenues they can choose.

    You’ll use several tools including cost-volume-profit analysis for model pricing and cost sensitivity, breakeven, forecasting and cost prediction, relevant cost analysis, variance cost analysis, and others. Using these tools, you’ll work on case studies to learn how to meet business needs and align them with face-based solutions.

  • Insurance Planning for Families
    In this course, you’ll learn about everything insurance-related including property, casualty, life, liability, disability, accident, long-term care, and health insurance. Because this area of financial planning has been changing so fast, you’ll discuss current and emerging issues as well. Ethical questions related to risk management will also be a part of your coursework. To learn all of this material, you’ll work on case studies so you know which insurance products you should select and show to families and individuals.

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Who Should Consider Getting This Degree

You want a career in financial planning
Those who wish to start a financial planning career are well-suited to begin an MBA program in financial planning. Others who are good candidates for this program include college graduates (undergraduates), those who are looking for a career change or to change positions inside the financial planning field. Professionals already in the banking, investment, accounting or legal fields are especially well-suited to this work. Those who are thinking about a career in personal financial planning should also enroll.

Your goal is to help clients with their financial goals
If you have a goal of becoming an investment adviser, financial planner or a money manager to help clients manage their financial goals, you are well-suited for this program.

You want to work with people rather than companies
Should you prefer working with people rather than with companies, you are well-suited to this educational program. Learn as much as you can about investments, taxes and insurance.

You have an affinity for numbers
Do you have an affinity for numbers? If your answer is “yes,” this field is for you. You’ll spend your days thinking about all the monetary considerations that your clients are thinking about. If you want to gauge investment correctly and create future growth for your clients, find the right finance MBA program for your goals.

You already have a finance education background
If you have already completed an undergraduate degree as a financial services major, you’re already well-prepared to enter this type of program. Look especially at the electives offered in the program you select—they should align with your goals.

How to Choose the Right Program

  • Find the program that allows you to develop personal and professional connections. In this field, it’s just as much “who” you know as “what” you know.
  • If you are looking for CFP certification, then find an MBA/Financial Planning program that allows you to work toward this goal. Once you graduate, sit your exam and obtain your license, you’ll be able to get started.
  • This field isn’t easy to get into. This is why you need academics that offer individualized attention and industry experience.
  • Look for an MBA-Financial Planner program that has a high rate of successful graduate placements. The high quality of the education should make you attractive to firms that are hiring or the school might offer plenty of meet and greet events that will allow you to network.
  • The right financial planning graduate program enables you to take advantage of prior educational experiences. You’ll learn accounting, financial planning, insurance, investments, banking, budgeting, estate, retirement, and insurance planning.
  • A good program offers career benefits to you. You need a grounding in estate planning, investments, tax law, and college funding when you graduate.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that personal financial planners will be in demand well past 2020. You want to be on the top of the heap so you snag the right job.

Potential Scholarships to Consider

An MBA isn’t cheap. The program you select should have both need-based and merit-based scholarships. Some students are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships upon enrollment. Early submission of applications is strongly encouraged so students have a better opportunity to receive a scholarship. If you are looking into a college with particularly high tuition, make sure to request info on their available financial aid.

  • The Institute of Management Accountants Memorial Education Fund Scholarships
    Graduate students majoring in finance or accounting are eligible to apply. Awards range from $1,000 to $2,500.

  • Government Finance Officers Association Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship
    Graduate students are eligible to apply for this scholarship. It is intended for undergraduate or graduate students majoring in one of several areas related to finance, including business administration. Students winning an award should belong to a minority group.

  • National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) Scholarship
    Awarded to undergraduate and graduate students with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 grade scale. Eligible students must be exceptional in their academic performance; they must be of Hispanic heritage or have a demonstrated commitment to the Hispanic community. Eligible students should be US citizens or legal permanent residents. Students are not required to apply for this scholarship. Instead, the admissions committee decides who will represent the university as a NSHMNA scholar.

  • Robert Toigo Foundation Fellowship
    This fellowship assists minority students earning credit toward a degree in finance. Eligible students should have an exceptional academic record and demonstrate leadership. They should also be devoted to social change and community involvement.

  • National Black MBA Association Grants
    The NBMBAA awards scholarships ranging from $1,000 up to $15,000 to African American students enrolled in an MBA program in management or business. If awarded this scholarship, winning students may be asked to participate in public relations activities for the NBMBAA foundation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you do with an MBA in financial planning?

An MBA is often considered an excellent way to move forward in your career. This is just as true with financial planning as with any other career. Whether you need an MBA is your own decision, but if you’ve felt held back in your career, this may be a good option to help you succeed. With an MBA in financial planning, you could find your way into a position as a financial analyst, controller, manager, or a trust officer.

How do you choose the right online MBA in financial planning?

This depends on your specific needs. You can ask yourself what your timeframe is for earning your degree, what programs will your previous education give you access to, do you have experience, and how would you like to attend your classes? There are many available MBA programs, and you should have an idea of what you’re looking for when you begin your school search. By having a plan in mind, you can look for a program that best fits your overall needs.

What is the CFP exam?

This exam will provide you the credential of a Certified Financial Planner. If you have not yet considered taking this exam and gaining certification, now might be the time to do so. You could earn this credential in conjunction with your MBA or earn the certification first and then decide if you still need to attend an MBA program.

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