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The Definitive Guide: How To Become A Financial Advisor

Published on: 7 Jun 2018
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Ahhh, working as a financial advisor sounds great, doesn’t it? You’ve probably come across one from time to time – perhaps, through friends at a party or maybe even professionally? Yet what does a Financial Advisor do?

Are you going to fall head over heels with this profession? How are you going to be lured into a role, like this? Read on to find out more about this job and why if you’ve got this far, it’s sure to tick all of the boxes for you…

  • Job Description

    So, what does a Financial Advisor do in terms of day-to-day duties?

    Fancy earning the respect of your clients by being able to provide sound and specialist advice on how to manage their money? Even fancy in-depth knowledge of money management which you can then, in turn, apply to your own life and budget?

    This role is absolutely jam-packed with variety; you won’t be number crunching all day long. You’ll be dealing with figures, sure, but you’ll also be scouring the marketplace for up-to-date information – let’s call that ‘market research’ - and giving your clients top-notch recommendations on what’s available to them in terms of products and services.

    You’ll be client-facing and chatting over the ‘phone and email. You will ooze intelligence as you seek to ensure that your customers have heard about and understand the products best suited to them and then proceed through to a ‘sale’ of such products.

    There’s flexibility here too: you may fall into a generalist financial advisor role, offering advice to your client base in all areas, or you may find that you fall into a more ‘niche’ area of financial advice, such as pensions, mortgages or investment.

    You may learn that your job title varies from company to company and role to role, too. You may be able to refer to yourself as something swanky like a ‘broker’, a wealth manager or a finance planner. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the world really will be your oyster in this field, as pretty much everyone on all four corners of the globe would benefit from financial advice, although country-appropriate financial regulations and qualifications would obviously apply.

    What is sure is that whatever your job title is and wherever you find yourself working in the UK, you will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In order to give sound and professional advice relating to finances, a Financial Advisor must have professional qualifications and follow strict industry regulations.

  • Hours of Work

    So, what working hours can you expect? If employed by a company, you’ll most likely be working full-time hours in their offices, be it 9-5pm or 9-5.30pm, although many companies allow ‘work from home’ days.

    Of course, there is always the opportunity of becoming an independent Financial Advisor, especially once you have your well-earned experience under your belt. You’ll then find that your working hours could be more ad-hoc to suit your clients’ needs and your own.

    Other perks of working like this is that you’d be able to choose your place of work: either at home or in rented office space. This will allow you to break up your week and you’d also have the buzz of travelling about the place to meet your clients.

    Some financial planners actually prefer to become self-employed after completing their certifications. The cost of doing business is quite small, with very few overheads, so the earning potential is much higher than regular employment for a firm. It is helpful to have a good network of contacts, and by providing sound advice, you’ll be able to build a great, stable base of clients through repeat business and the word-of-mouth that comes with it.

    If based at a high-street bank, you’ll probably work 35-40 hours a week and it may include Saturday mornings. You may find yourself working in an office, a banking contact centre or an estate agency. and evening and weekend work may be common with these too. But then don’t forget you’d probably have time off in lieu during the week.

  • Interested? Here’s a few other bits of information you’ll want to know.

    You could work as a tied, multi-tied or independent financial adviser (IFA) and it’s all sounding very involved and impressive, isn’t it? Enough to wow even your hardest to impress pals. Here are the different types of Financial Advisor out there:

    • Tied – This means that you would be working for specific company. You’d usually be working for a bank, building society or an insurance company and you’d be offering the company’s own financial products
    • Multi-tied – you’d be working for a number of companies but still only selling financial products specific to them
    • IFA – If you go down this route, you’d be offering products and giving advice across the whole market with no affiliation to any one product or company in particular
  • Main Responsibilities

    • Talking to clients about their finances and plans
    • Carrying out in-depth research on appropriate financial products and putting that across in an intelligent and concise way to your trusting clients
    • Negotiating with financial providers
    • Producing detailed financial reports
    • Keeping your clients in the loop regarding their financial investments
    • Meeting your performance and sales targets
    • Keeping abreast of any changes in legislation regarding products

Key Financial Advisor Qualifications

Sold? So, what do you need to get in?

By now, you’re probably hooked on the idea of becoming a Financial Advisor - why wouldn’t you be? The variety, the esteem and the flexible working hours if you become an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) are all appealing. So, what do you actually need in order to get in?

You'll definitely need GCSEs (A* to C) in English and maths – the maths probably goes without saying - and work experience in customer service, sales or finance to get a trainee financial advisor job is also recommended.

With a degree - whether in numbers or not - you could get onto a graduate training scheme with a bank or firm of financial advisers.

You'll also need a qualification in financial advice that's approved by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), although the great news is that you can often achieve this on the job.

You'll need:

Both of these provide assurance that you are who you say you are, you don’t have any debts and you haven’t committed any crimes.


Vital Financial Advisor Skills

You'll need:

  • Fantastic communication skills, as you’ll be dealing with a variety of people – customers as well as lenders
  • The ability to decipher and explain quite complex financial information
  • Strong analytical and research skills
  • Sales, negotiation and report-writing skills
  • Excellent maths and computer skills

What is a Financial Advisor's Salary?

Here we go – how much you will actually earn? The pay is great, with starting salaries between £22,000 to £30,000, experienced Financial Advisors bringing in £30,000 to £40,000 and the very highly experienced bringing home a whopping £70,000.

The average UK salary for a financial advisor is £35, 849, which is certainly not to be sniffed at. That’s a great average salary and a career path which should certainly be carefully considered if it hasn’t already drawn you in, which it is bound to have.

You will also be earning commission for each mortgage or policy that you sell. As an IFA, you’ll charge clients a fee, or earn commission from the company who you are selling on behalf of. IFAs typically charge £75 to £250 per hour, which are absolutely amazing hourly rates.

These figures are as a guide only.

financial advisor salery

How To Become A Financial Advisor

So, how do you become a Financial Advisor then? Follow our step-by-step guide to making it:

  • This area of work is open to anyone who shows that they have the necessary skills and know-how to cut the mustard, although if you are thinking of retraining, the following subjects may give you a quicker route in:

    • Accountancy
    • Business management
    • Finance or financial studies
  • Don’t think that you will have no chance without a university degree because it’s just not true. Although university qualifications will always stand anyone in great stead, companies often look just as favourably at personal qualities as they do at academic qualifications.

  • Relevant experience in a customer services, sales or financial services background is also a plus. Newbies often start in a bank and study part time, picking up experience from those who have been in the role longer. It is also possible to get into the sector as a paraplanner - someone who provides all the research and administrative support to a Financial Advisor. And then you’d just work your way up from there - simple!

  • Many banks, building societies and insurance companies offer graduate training schemes; some recruit graduates directly into the business. It is also more than possible to move into financial advice from other areas with banking and insurance so you can always keep your eyes peeled for opportunities once you have your foot in the door with a decent firm.

Financial Advisor: The Next Steps

So, what would be your prospects longer term?

Working for a larger organisation, you could move into management or compliance work, which looks at making sure that your firm follows the the industry regulations and guidelines. You could pretty much work for any UK financial organisation, too, selling financial products or specialist investment or pension consultancy. As we have already discussed in some detail, you could be a self-employed IFA, too.

Isn’t it time you try to bring home the bacon in this great line of work?