Financial advisers provide clients with advice on financial matters, making recommendations on ways to best utilise their money. The role involves researching the marketplace and advising clients on products and services available, ensuring they are aware of and understand those that best meet their needs, and then securing a sale.
Advisers may specialise in particular products, depending on their clients, e.g. selling employee pension schemes to companies or offering mortgage, pension or investment advice to private clients. Others are generalists, offering advice to clients in all of these areas, plus savings plans and insurance.
In order to give financial advice, advisers must have professional qualifications and follow strict financial industry rules.
Financial advisers can work as:
Tasks vary depending on the role but typically involve:
Although this area of work is open to graduates and diplomates of any discipline, the following subjects may improve your chances:
Entry without a degree is possible and employers often regard personal qualities as important as academic qualifications. Relevant experience in a customer service, sales or financial services setting is also viewed positively. New entrants often start in a bank and study part time, learning alongside experienced advisers.
It is also possible to enter the financial advice sector as a paraplanner, providing research and administrative support to a financial adviser.
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not needed.
Evidence of commercial awareness acquired through part-time or vacation work or a longer work placement is useful. Experience in sales, advisory or customer service work is also valuable. Talk to a financial adviser for a greater insight into this area of work.
Candidates will need to show evidence of the following:
A full driving licence is useful, particularly for independent financial advisers (IFAs) who may have to travel to visit clients in their own homes.
Some retail banks offer graduate training schemes, whereas private banks often recruit graduates direct into the business.
It is possible to move into financial advice from other areas of the banking and insurance sector.
More information on a career in financial advice and planning is available from the Financial Skills Partnership (FSP) .
For more information, see work experience and internships and search courses and research.
Giving investment financial advice is regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) . In order to become a qualified financial adviser you must take specific professional qualifications.
The minimum level of qualification for financial advisers working in the retail investment market has recently increased from QCT level 3 to level 4/SCQF level 8. The new level 4 qualifications are:
For more information on the appropriate qualifications, see the FSA and Financial Skills Partnership (FSP) websites.
Financial advisers who want to provide advice on mortgages or equity, stocks and shares, or long-term care protection will need to take additional examinations.
Many trainee advisers begin as tied advisers, gaining basic training in a range of financial products. Employers usually provide this in-house through a combination of formal tuition and on-the-job training. Trainees will gradually begin to work with clients under supervision and, gaining experience and qualifications, will acquire their own book of clients.
In the early stages, you will usually shadow an experienced financial adviser, doing some of the research and administration connected with their work, and then you will gradually begin to deal directly with clients yourself, under supervision. As you become more experienced, you will acquire your own list of clients.
Most employers provide training and pay for examinations, but trainees are usually expected to study outside working hours, and many courses offer distance learning opportunities. After you are qualified, regular supervision ensures that you maintain levels of competence and compliance with regulations.
After a period as a successful financial adviser, you could choose to:
Some advisers move into compliance work, which has become a major feature of the financial services sector. This involves ensuring that all advisers follow company rules and regulations issued by regulatory bodies.
There may also be opportunities to become a director or partner in your firm.
Self-employment is another option. It is quite common for financial sales consultants with successful employment experience to launch their own businesses as independent financial advisers (IFAs).
You should continue to develop your skills and knowledge throughout your career. For example, studying for more advanced professional qualifications, such as the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) Level 6 Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning, will enhance your career development opportunities. It is also possible to study full or part time for an MBA.
Some of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) qualifications are recognised internationally, providing opportunities for highly qualified and experienced advisers to live and work overseas giving advice to wealthy expatriates.
For more details of advanced qualifications, see the Financial Skills Partnership (FSP) .
Financial advisers usually work for independent financial advice companies, insurance companies, investment firms, and banks and building societies. Some are employed by estate agencies, specialist pension consultancies, law firms and by a number of retailers who have developed financial services as a part of their business. Others work as self-employed advisers.
Independent financial advisers may work for an organisation or may be self-employed, providing advice on products across the market. Many work for firms which themselves are known as independent financial advisers.
Opportunities are also sometimes available with offshore financial advisory groups and international banks.
Recruitment agencies commonly handle vacancies. For a list of member agencies search the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) consultancy finder.
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