Financial adviser job loses a little luster

Slips further down list of top 100 jobs to No. 41, though profession still a stand-out for opportunity and work-life balance

By Liz Skinner

Jan 23, 2014 @ 11:18 am (Updated 3:29 pm) EST

financial adviser, job, satisfaction

A new ranking of America's best 100 jobs reveals that the financial advice business is an outstanding profession, even though the sector has slipped down the rankings.

“Financial adviser” ranked No. 41 of the 100 Best Jobs of 2014, an annual list by U.S. News and World Report released Thursday. The profession landed at No. 32 last year and No. 23 in 2012, which was the first year the list was published.

The profession's slip down the list probably has most to do with the addition of new jobs to the list, rather than changes to the advisory business, said Jada Graves, senior career editor for U.S. News. This year's list included 18 additional jobs, such as nurse practitioner, operations research analyst, information security analyst, and nail technician.

Adviser ranked No. 4 on the publisher's list of the Best Business Jobs for 2014, which included 22 jobs in the financial, insurance and business operations realms.

All positions were ranked based on government data about hiring demand, growth in the last decade, salary, employment rate, future job prospects, stress level and work-life balance, Ms. Graves said.

Adviser was ranked highest in terms of employability factors and growth, and lowest in terms of the job's higher-than-average stress level, she said. It also scored “extremely well” in terms of work-life balance, Ms. Graves said.

The U.S. News feature listed the median annual salary for financial advisers as $67,520, with the lowest-paid making less than $32,280 and the highest paid earning at least $187,199.

Industry professionals weren't surprised the job is a standout.

“It makes sense that it's a top job because it allows an adviser who is suited for it to have real control over his or her income and a lot of flexibility in how they practice and who they work for,” said Mindy Diamond, chief executive of Diamond Consultants, a search and consulting firm for advisers. “It's also a job that when an adviser looks to change firms, the incentive to do with bonuses can be tremendous.”

She cautions that one must be “uniquely suited” in order to find success.

“For the right people, it's a fabulous career choice,” Ms. Diamond said. “Know thyself,” she warns. “I have seen many folks who have failed.”

Advisers need to be good at building relationships with people, understanding the markets and knowing how to put client needs first, she said. It should also be something the adviser feels “passionate about” — a key driver of success in all industries, she said.

“I would recommend it to anyone,” said Jamie Cox, managing partner of Harris Financial Group in Richmond, Va. “But I would not say this is a business where you should look to get rich.”

He said the financial advice business can provide a “fantastic career” as long as the adviser focuses on helping people.

“The most successful people in the business have the attitude that their compensation and success is predicated on the success of the customer first,” Mr. Cox said. “If you put yourself ahead of clients, you're destined for the dust heap in a hurry.”

The three other professions that beat out financial adviser on the business jobs list are market research analyst, operations research analyst and accountant.

The top three jobs on the 100 Best Jobs list are software developer, computer systems analyst and dentist.