A successful financial adviser has specialist knowledge of investments, savings and money management but also possesses great people skills
As a financial adviser, you'll provide clients with specialist advice on how to manage their money. You'll need to research the marketplace so that you can recommend the most appropriate products and services available and then secure a sale with the client.
You could choose to specialise in particular products that relate to certain clients, such as selling employee pension schemes to companies or offering mortgage, pension or investment advice to private clients. It's also possible to work across all of these areas, as well as covering saving plans and insurance.
In order to give financial advice, you must have professional qualifications and follow strict financial industry rules.
Financial advisers are also known as financial planners or wealth managers.
Types of financial advisers
There are two types of financial adviser and advice - independent and restricted.
Independent advisers also called independent financial advisers (IFAs), research and consider all retail investment products or providers available to meet the client's needs. They must provide clients with unbiased and unrestricted advice.
Restricted advisers only offer limited advice, focusing on a particular range of products or on products from one, or a limited number, of providers.
All advisers must inform their clients, before providing advice, whether they provide independent or restricted advice.
Your tasks will vary depending on your role but typically you'll need to:
- contact clients and set up meetings, either within an office environment or in clients' homes or business premises
- conduct in-depth reviews of clients' financial circumstances, current provision and future aims
- analyse information and prepare plans best suited to individual clients' requirements
- complete risk analyses
- research the marketplace and provide clients with information on new and existing products and services
- design financial strategies
- assist clients to make informed decisions
- research information from various sources, including providers of financial products
- review and respond to clients changing needs and financial circumstances
- promote and sell financial products to meet given or negotiated sales targets
- negotiate with product suppliers for the best possible rates
- liaise with head office and financial services providers
- communicate with other professionals, such as estate agents, solicitors and valuers
- keep up to date with financial products and legislation
- produce financial reports
- contact clients with news of new financial products or changes to legislation that may affect their savings and investments
- meet the regulatory aspects of the role, e.g. requirements for disclosure, costs of the services provided and also the advised products.
- Salaries at trainee adviser level range from £22,000 to £33,000.
- Qualified financial advisers can earn between £30,000 and £45,000.
- Senior financial advisers working with an average-wealth client base can earn in the region of £60,000.
- Wealth managers or private client advisers who are based in the wealth division of major retail and private banks can earn more than £100,000.
You may also earn bonuses and commission and have additional benefits on top of your salary.
Salaries vary considerably depending on your employer and location, as well as on your level of qualifications and experience.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Some jobs, for example a restricted adviser in a high street bank, offer regular office hours. However, flexibility is required if working for a banking contact centre or as an independent financial adviser (IFA), as clients may require evening and weekend meetings.
What to expect
- Work is office based although if you're an IFA you may work from home or meet clients in their own homes.
- Self-employment is common.
- There are openings for restricted and independent advisers throughout the UK. However, private banking positions tend to be based in London and other key financial areas such as Belfast, Edinburgh and Manchester.
- Travel within a working day is common for IFAs, but overnight stays away from home are unusual.
- Due to the regulatory nature of financial advice, overseas work is uncommon and most jobs are UK-based, serving UK customers. However, there are some opportunities for experienced advisers to work abroad for offshore financial advisory groups and international banks.
- Initiatives are in place to help with equality and diversity within financial services. For example, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has a diversity and inclusion strategy to encourage the firms it regulates to improve diversity, equity and inclusion within their workforces. There is also Women in Banking and Finance, which is a membership network that supports women working in financial services.
Although this area of work is open to graduates of any discipline, the following subjects may improve your chances:
- business management
- finance or financial studies.
Entry into a trainee role without a degree is possible and employers often regard personal qualities and skills in a customer service, sales or financial services setting as just as important as academic qualifications.
New entrants often start in a bank and study part time, learning alongside experienced advisers.
It's possible to enter the financial advice sector as a paraplanner, providing research and administrative support to a financial adviser and then working your way up.
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not needed.
Some retail banks offer graduate training schemes, whereas private banks often recruit graduates directly into the business.
It's possible to move into financial advice from other areas of the banking and insurance sector.
You'll need to show evidence of the following:
- excellent communication, interpersonal and listening skills
- the capability to explain complex information simply and clearly
- the ability to network and establish relationships with clients
- research and analytical skills
- negotiation and influencing skills as well as determination and tenacity
- the ability to work in a team
- time management skills
- customer service skills
- self-motivation and organisation
- a good level of numeracy and IT skills
- a target-driven mindset
- a flexible approach to work
- decision-making skills
- discretion and an understanding of the need for client confidentiality
- an ethical and professional approach to work.
A full driving licence is useful, particularly if you’re an independent financial adviser (IFA) as you may need to travel to visit clients in their own homes.
Pre-entry work experience is useful as it shows potential employers that you have some of the required skills as well as an interest in the area.
Relevant work can include sales, advisory or customer service roles, or anything that gives you some commercial awareness. You could also look for work experience opportunities in high street banks.
It is useful to shadow or talk to a financial adviser to get a greater insight to the area of work. Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.
Financial advisers usually work for:
- banks and building societies
- financial planning firms
- independent financial advice companies
- insurance companies
- investment firms.
It's also possible to find work in estate agencies, specialist pension consultancies, law firms and with a number of retailers who have developed financial services as a part of their business. You could also become a self-employed adviser.
Independent financial advisers (IFAs) may work for an organisation or may be self-employed, providing advice on products across the market.
Look for job vacancies at:
You can also check directly on the websites of banks, building societies and financial advice firms so look out for companies that you’d be interested in working for.
In order to become a qualified financial adviser you must take specific professional qualifications. Giving investment financial advice is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
You'll typically complete training while working, with the support of your employer, to gain the minimum Level 4 qualifications needed to deliver financial advice. Options for training include:
- Chartered Banker Institute - Diploma in Professional Financial Advice
- Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) - Investment Advice Diploma
- Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) - Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning
- The London Institute of Baking & Finance - Diploma for Financial Advisers.
If you want to provide advice on mortgages, long-term care protection or equity, stocks and shares, you'll need to take additional examinations.
If you're a financial adviser working in retail investment you must have a Statement of Professional Standing (SPS), which confirms you have successfully completed a Level 4 qualification approved by the FCA. You must also complete at least 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) each year and adhere to the FCA code of practice.
In addition to these formal qualifications you'll typically be given in-house training from your employer in a range of financial products. You'll work with clients under supervision at first and as you gain experience, as well as your qualifications, you'll be given your own book of clients.
The qualifications that you take may depend on the requirements of the organisation you work for and their specialist area.
Once you've gained experience as a successful financial adviser, you could choose to:
- work on behalf of clients with larger sums to invest
- specialise in one type of financial advice, such as pensions and retirement, planning or savings investments plans - you might become the acknowledged expert in your office and colleagues would refer to you when they needed specialist advice for a client
- move upwards within your company and become responsible for the work of several other advisers, for the recruitment and training of new staff or for marketing and promoting the company - this might involve developing links with accountants, estate agents and solicitors in order to encourage them to refer clients to you.
You could also choose to move into compliance work, which 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's 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. Studying for more advanced or specialised professional qualifications can enhance your career development opportunities. Qualifications include:
- Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) - Level 6 Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning, which leads to Chartered Financial Planner status
- Chartered Banker Institute - Chartered Banker Status.
It's also possible to study full or part time for an MBA.
Related jobs and courses
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants