My yoga teacher recently decided to become a medical doctor. In a lot of ways, this is a natural progression from her long-term dedication to health through yoga, Eastern medicine, and nutrition. For 15 years, Jessica has focused on the health of her students’ body, mind, and spirit as a yoga teacher, Ayurveda practitioner, and Registered Dietician. She named her yoga studio, Balance Yoga and Wellness to properly convey the focus of the space on total health and wellness.
In order to become a medical doctor, she is currently taking post-baccalaureate science classes to qualify for a pre-med degree. Jessica already has a BA in Sociology, French and International Economics, and she completed the Dietetics coursework and internship to become a Registered Dietician. Her Ayurvedic training, while not officially accredited in the U.S. is every bit as comprehensive as a degree.
None of this exempts her from jumping through the hoops required to become a doctor. She will have to take the MCAT and apply to medical schools. Then she will follow the path of all physicians, four years of medical school followed by residency. This means that if all goes to plan, she will become a doctor in about eight years. Did I mention she also has two children under the age of 5 and a full-time job running a yoga studio?
I’ve always been impressed by Jessica. That’s why I chose her as my yoga teacher, someone to guide me in the lifelong pursuit of an ashtanga yoga practice. I can’t wait for her to become a doctor focusing on the total health of her clients. I’ve been searching for a family doctor who will do just that. I’ll be lining up to become one of Jessica’s first patients.
I’m over the current system of medical care where patients sit in windowless waiting rooms with crappy magazines for hours on end. Once you pass the initial waiting room, there’s an even smaller windowless room where you sit on that table with disposable paper for another half hour while nervously checking your email or social media. Did I mention how cold it is in this windowless, cinder block cell? Your doctor announces her entry with a knock. She enters with a nurse who is the only person to actually look at you during the entire appointment. This includes the mysterious woman behind the sliding glass window at the registration desk. The doctor proceeds with 20 questions while furiously typing on her laptop, you receive and script, and you’re ushered-out post haste. Don’t forget to pay your co-pay on the way out. <end rant>
What if Jessica had instead wanted to become a financial advisor? How long would it take for her to start giving advice? If she joins a brokerage firm like I did to begin my career, she only needs to take a 6-hour exam called the Series 7. Given her educational background and aptitude for math (not that she needs it!), I estimate that Jessica could study for and pass this exam in six weeks. You might ask what the prerequisites are for taking the Series 7. They are simply that she be sponsored by “a financial company who is a member of FINRA, or a Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO)”. That’s it folks, if she can find a brokerage firm willing to sponsor her, all she has to do is score 72% or better on a 250-question exam.
In less than three months, a career changer can become a “financial advisor”. How does this compare to other jobs?
- Medical Doctor – undergraduate, take the MCAT, 4 years medical school, 1-7 years residency, continuing education (boards) requirement
- Accountant (CPA) – 150 hours of undergraduate coursework in accounting, pass the CPA exam, one-year apprenticeship with active CPA, continuing education requirement
- Attorney – undergraduate, take the LSAT, 3 years of law school, pass the Bar exam in your state, continuing education (CLE) requirement
- Nail Technician – high school diploma or GED (not required for the Series 7), complete 3-month training program or a 2-year associate degree in cosmetology, pass the license exam, and obtain a license
- Auto Mechanic – high school diploma or GED, 2-year associate degree in automotive service technology, obtain certificate from National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (recommended)
- Software Engineer – undergraduate degree, take 6-12-week coding boot camp (6 days a week / 12-hour days), create several pieces of software to show potential employers, apply to over 200 jobs before getting hired
These are all jobs that will be in demand for the foreseeable future. However, only the doctor is dealing with life and death. The rest have room to make mistakes because a mistake on your tax return can be fixed, so can smudged nail polish, or a bug in a piece of software.
I’d argue that financial advice is similar to medicine in this way. It’s not always possible to recover from bad financial advice. Other than your health, what could be more important than your financial well-being? You only get one shot at maximizing your human capital, saving as much as you can along the way, and enjoying the benefits of compounding returns. The stakes are too high not to demand that professionals who give financial advice (or sell financial products) have adequate education and training.
 Requirements differ by state. Louisiana requirements listed.
 According to a software developer in New Orleans