September 5, 2022

Last Updated on April 4, 2023 by Jacques Wong, B.Sc.

If you are passionate about helping people manage their finances, financial advising and planning are some of the top career choices for many. While these two titles reflect specialist roles involving money management, do you know the differences between the two? Learn more about these two jobs below and whether they need financial planner courses.

Financial Advisor

A financial advisor is a general term for someone who provides clients with financial guidance and management. Financial advisors offer services involving decision-making around money, including managing your investment and developing estate and tax plans. This category includes insurance agents, bankers, stockbrokers, and tax preparers.

Since these financial advisors offer a wide range of services, they may need to carry additional licenses and certifications. For example, they must pass certification exams if they sell insurance products. While not required in some industries, having licenses and certifications demonstrates to their clients that they are upholding a certain level of industry standard.

Furthermore, financial advisors must provide advice or guidance rather than executing, such as preparing tax returns or placing a trade order. Instead, they may suggest tax-minimizing strategies or ways to take advantage of their annual income for investment purposes. Ultimately, financial advisors work for their clients and have their best interests at heart instead of serving their financial institution’s interests.

Financial Planner

A financial planner also manages money for their clients, specializing in creating long-term financial strategies. Unlike financial advisors, they focus on developing a plan in terms of budgeting, savings, retirement, and more. In essence, they are more specialized than a financial advisor.

Financial planners often provide services to clients directly, but you can also find them in other areas, such as bankers and even non-profit organizations. They may specialize in estate planning, investments, or maybe retirement planning. To obtain specific licenses or designations, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP), they must complete specific requirements such as enrolling in courses, passing exams, and having relevant work experience. You can expect to fulfill CE requirements to maintain professional development like any other legitimate profession.

What is the main difference?

While these two roles overlap considerably, the key difference is one is a subset of the other. A financial planner is a specific financial advisor who formulates individualized plans for their clients. In contrast, a financial advisor is licensed and certified in planning and other facets of financial management. All financial planners are financial advisors, but not all financial advisors are planners.

Financial Planner Courses: So, who needs it?

If you want to become a financial planner, you will need to pass licensing exams before handling your client’s money. However, since there are many types of financial advisors, you should take financial planner courses if you plan on specializing in this area. Different designations provide extensive knowledge in other places, so it’s best to determine your desired outcome fire before investing in a course.


Those looking to become financial planners should take financial planning courses. PNC Learning plans to release our CFP licensing courses soon, so be sure to be on the lookout for its release!

Jacques Wong is the CEO and Director of Education at PNC Learning. An award-winning licensed insurance broker with over 15 years of experience in both education and the insurance industry, Jacques is recognized for his expertise and effective communication strategies. He achieved the highest provincial scores on his CAIB* 3 and CAIB* 4 exams and contributes to leading insurance publications. Jacques is dedicated to making insurance knowledge accessible for everyone through his unique approach and online content.

Jacques Wong

 Jacques wong


The Best way to learn about our courses is to try them for yourself.




PNC Learning was started by insurance professionals for insurance professionals.

Our goal is to help you get a strong start in the industry and assist you as you seek to learn more and move up in the industry.