Mark works as an independent financial adviser (IFA) for a large financial services company giving advice on pensions and retirement as well as other financial products including income protection, critical illness and life insurance, mortgages and investments for individuals and small companies.
I chose this career as I wanted to work within the realms of financial advice as an IFA and liked the idea of being self-employed as well as the potential for earning in the region of between £70k and £80k per annum.
I started off by working in a bank as an adviser and moved into direct selling financial advice where I could learn more about different products and finance on the job. I became interested in general life insurance and product development/progression, from personal pension plans (PPPs) to funded unapproved retirement benefit schemes, FURBS, and all points in-between. They gave me generic knowledge and product training, one-to-one product selling and multi-sales. On the recommendation of a friend, I applied to a trade advert in a publication called Financial Advisers/Money Management and sent my CV and covering letter and was successful.
For anyone interested in a career as an IFA or pensions adviser, I would suggest joining a large organisation and training on-the-job. You need to take advantage of any courses and continuing professional development (CPD) on offer and be prepared to update your knowledge regularly as the industry is constantly changing.
The financial services industry is very much a people business and you must be prepared to talk to people face to face. You need to be a good conversationalist as it is essential to build up a rapport with clients.
As an adviser, I find clients, gather information and get to know as much as I can about their expenditure, pensions, assets/debts, income requirements, expectations and goals as possible and analyse it all with a view to making appropriate recommendations about an individual's situation.
What appeals to me about the job is that you get to see people from all walks of like and all age groups, from arranging an annuity for a retired person to sorting out a group company pension scheme for an 18-year-old.
There is a downside to the role and the nature of the paperwork can be tedious. Documents have to be sent out to people both electronically and as hard copy; copies of applications and suitability letters have to meet the legal requirements.
Another challenge is keeping track of developments in the industry, which can be time consuming; for example, recent changes in the retirement date for those born 1954-60 who can then take their pensions five years earlier will in itself lead to an increase in form filing due to the legislative changes.
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