How Do I Become a Pension Consultant?

Geri Terzo

Pensions and consultants are two groups that really do go hand in hand. Public and private pensions rely on the advice, knowledge, and leadership of an investment consultant to make decisions that can affect the retirement of thousands of employees. A consultant is often compensated based on fees and commissions earned as a result of having clients. To become a pension consultant, which is very much a relationship-driven industry, strong communication and mathematical skills are essential. A degree in finance or accounting is useful, while obtaining investment certifications can supplement education and increase opportunities.

A consultant is often compensated based on fees and commissions earned as a result of having clients.
A consultant is often compensated based on fees and commissions earned as a result of having clients.

Financial firms are interested in hiring young college graduates with standout grade point averages (GPAs) and aptitudes for understanding the ever-changing market environment. Even though you will not need to make stock and bond selections to become a pension consultant, it is a good idea to have some of the same industry certifications as the stock pickers. Many investment consultants have earned the Certified Public Accountant title or a Series 66 financial certification in the U.S., both of which could help on the road to become a pension consultant.

Of course, the best way to become a pension consultant is to have industry experience. Be willing to participate in any on-the-job training programs being offered at a financial firm. Developing relationships in the pension industry is also beneficial because these institutions could be future clients.

Attending financial conferences is a good way to keep up with any changing regulations or to recognize a shift in the retirement landscape. Economists and other financial professionals are often asked to host seminars and give round tables on market trends. It may require out-of-pocket expenses for both attending the conference and for travel, but the rewards could be long lasting. Networking occurs at these events, and meeting other professionals in the industry could open the door to career opportunities.

Professional options seemingly abound after you become a pension consultant. Pensions hire financial consultants to provide direction on investment strategies, market themes, and risk awareness. These institutional investors go to great lengths not only to hire general investment consultants but also advisers for particular asset classes, such as real estate or bonds. For those pensions that do not hire third-party consultants, there are likely internal investment committees guiding the plans on decisions. Decide if you prefer to work in a financial advisory firm, where the most opportunities are, or seek to be employed by a corporate or public pension fund.

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