Continuing education is something all those in financial careers need to pursue throughout their careers. Continuing education can be formal classwork or courses taken at colleges or universities or through industry associations. Continuing education classes are not usually taken for a grade, and they may or may not result in receiving certification in a specific area. Some people get continuing education credits for attending sessions at conferences, webinars, or seminars.
As a financial professional, you already know that the industry is continually changing. Whether it’s new laws, policies, or regulations, new tax laws, or industry restructuring, there are many changes that can impact how you do your job. For this reason alone, taking continuing education classes can benefit you. They help you keep up with the latest industry trends and changes.
They can also help you stay ahead of all the new technologies in the financial industry. Another reason many professionals take continuing education classes is because they are required to keep certification or to become certified. Usually, it’s a combination of these two main reasons that motivates professionals to take classes. A few additional benefits professionals may not realize they can gain from taking continuing education classes is that taking classes can bring in new clients. When you become certified in a certain area of specialization or improve your skills and abilities in a specific area of the industry, it is likely to attract new clients. Classes can also give you the opportunity to network with other financial professionals, and that alone can be well worth taking a class or two.
Where to Take Classes
Continuing education classes are offered through several different organizations. One of the leading sources of continuing education classes are industry associations. Associations can offer certifications as well as classes. The classes are usually the result of a need in the industry for certifying a specific skill or set of knowledge. For example, the Association for Financial Professionals offers its members certification as certified treasury professionals. The organization also offers training classes in financial planning and management, foreign exchange management, and risk assessment, among others. These classes do count toward the requirements for certification.
Other organizations that offer continuing education classes are colleges and universities. These classes can also lead to a certification that can be beneficial in many ways. Some certifications are required in the industry, or continuing education classes are requirements for earning or maintaining your certification. Continuing education classes through universities work best for professionals who are seeking to gain new skills and abilities and who can dedicate more time to classwork. Many of these programs must be attended in person—they’re not available online. So, you must invest more time in them. It’s best to make sure you’re taking the ones that are the most meaningful to your career.
Choosing the Right Continuing Education Classes for You
Not all continuing education classes are beneficial to the financial professional. Some classes can be very expensive, costing as much as $800 or more. Before you dedicate the time and finances to these classes, you need to do your research and make sure they are needed and will be beneficial to your career. The best way to determine this is by asking other professionals who are in jobs similar to yours or the one you aspire to. Ask them what continuing education classes are essential for getting ahead, which ones will give you a competitive advantage, and which ones are required for certification, licensure, or other job requirements. If a class doesn’t fall into one of these three categories, chances are it would not be a wise use of your time or money.