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A financial service representative is a professional who works in a fast-paced environment consulting with clients and businesses about banking, securities, insurance, and related services. The representative may be trained to provide a variety of products and services including loans, certificates of deposit, individual retirement accounts, and credit cards, as well as estate and retirement planning. Depending on his licensing, he may also be known as a broker, financial adviser, or financial service sales agent. Someone in this position typically works 40 hours a week, usually in an office, bank, or call center. He may also spend time outside the office developing or meeting with clients.
Whether meeting with an individual who has only a few hundred dollars or a company with millions, a financial service representative is expected to give sound financial advice for investments or purchases of financial products. He may work strictly on commission or salary plus commission, and will perform different tasks for the benefit of his clients. His duties will vary, but the financial professional typically offers advice on products he thinks best suit his customer's needs. He also will meet with his customers on a regular basis to manage portfolios as needs and financial situations change.
Since the financial service representative must develop a steady clientele, he may be required to work more than 40 hours a week and sometimes on weekends. Building a steady customer base may take months or even years. To acquire clients, the representative may need to make cold calls, knock on doors, or attend financial seminars.
These financial professionals also spend a great deal of time studying and keeping up with developments in the financial world by attending conferences and seminars. New hires may receive on-the-job training to learn about specific products and services available. At large firms, trainees may also receive classroom instruction regarding securities and effective selling techniques. Financial representatives may also be required to pass certain licensing exams, and continuing education is required to maintain licensure, which often takes months of study.
Certifications are not always necessary for a financial service representative, but they do help to enhance his standing in the financial field. Some financial professionals opt to seek certification as a Chartered Financial Analyst, sponsored by the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute. To receive this designation, a person is required to have a bachelor's degree and four years of related experience, and pass three tests, which may take hundreds of hours of preparation.
A financial service representative may advance his career by obtaining certifications and building up more and more accounts. Some professionals may become portfolio managers and have more authority over accounts. Others may opt for various management positions or even become partners in a financial firm.
Be very, very careful when selecting a financial services representative. For example, is someone working strictly on base plus commission interested in presenting the best financial products for your situation or do they simply want to sell you the ones that will net them the most cash? All financial services reps have a fiduciary duty to give you advice that is in your best interest, but how likely is it that their own interests will get in the way?
Fortunately, there's a time tested way to pick a financial services rep -- talk to some people who have used them and ask for recommendations. Such referrals are worth more than all the marketing, enthusiastic promises and paid testimonials combined.
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