Financial Adviser/Planner

The Job and What's Involved

CashFinancial advisers and planners give individuals and businesses support on financial matters and recommend the best way to make use of their money.

Advisers guide clients through their financial options, source the best product and secure a sale - for example, by selling an employee pension scheme to a company. Some advisers specialise in mortgage, pension or investment advice.

Some advisers are generalists, advising clients on their specialism plus other savings and insurance plans. Others are 'tied' and are allowed to sell only their own company's products. Independent financial advisers (IFAs) supply a variety of products from different suppliers.

Financial planners are less focused on sales, but look to the future, assess customers' lifestyles and support them through a range of financial decisions to help them achieve their personal goals.

A financial adviser's or planner's duties may include:

  • Contacting clients to arrange meetings.
  • Explaining the benefits and limitations of particular products.
  • Providing information about new products and services.
  • Tracking and communicating developments in financial legislation, such as taxation, tax relief and allowances.
  • Regularly checking clients' plans to make sure their products are still suitable.
  • Addressing changes in clients' personal circumstances, such as divorce or inheritance.
  • Negotiating the best possible rates with suppliers.
  • Maintaining records and meeting sales targets.
  • Providing annual summaries of investment and pension performance.

Financial adviser's or planner's also liaise with other professionals in the financial, business and legal sectors.

Working hours often vary to fit around clients' circumstances. Some advisers work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but flexible working is normal for many. Part-time opportunities may be available.

Financial advisers and planners are office-based. IFA's often work from home, travelling to meet clients in their own homes, sometimes outside of normal office hours. Smart dress is usually required.

A driving licence may be useful.

Starting salaries may be around £15,000 to £25,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are approximately 75,000 financial advisers and planners working throughout the UK. Over 36,000 are classed as IFA's.

There are jobs in insurance and investment firms, banks, building societies, estate agents, retailers and law firms. Many IFA's are self-employed, although they may have contractual or franchise arrangements with companies.

There is an increasing demand for qualified advisers with a successful sales record. Prospects for mortgage and inheritance tax specialists are currently good.

Vacancies are advertised in specialist publications, including Financial Adviser, Professional Adviser and Investment Adviser, in local and national newspapers, and on company and specialist financial recruitment agency websites.

Education and Training

Entry qualifications vary. Employers often look for two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English and maths, or equivalent qualifications. Personal qualities, including communication skills and the ability to relate well to other people, are also very important.

School leavers usually start in a research, administrative or tied adviser role.

It may be possible to train through an Apprenticeship such as the Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC) Advanced Apprenticeship in Advising on Financial Products.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

Before they can advise clients, advisers normally need to take an appropriate examination from a professional body, such as the: Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) Institute of Financial Services (IFS) School of Finance Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland (CIOBS)

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is usually a combination of in-house and external courses, supported by supervision from experienced advisers. Staff are expected to study for professional qualifications, including the:

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A financial adviser or planner should be:

  • Good at managing money.
  • A good listener.
  • A good communicator in speech and writing.
  • Able to gain clients' confidence.
  • Able to explain complex information simply and clearly.
  • Good at research and analysis.
  • Reliable and trustworthy.
  • Conscientious, and a good record keeper.
  • Able to work well with many different kinds of people.
  • Good at IT.
  • Committed to ongoing learning.
  • Discreet and understanding of the need for confidentiality.

Your Long Term Prospects

Promotion may be possible to a supervisory or management position.

Many experienced advisers become self-employed as an IFA or as a specialist in a particular product area.

There is a growing need for experienced advisers to move into compliance, ensuring that companies follow the latest regulatory standards and work to industry rules.

Get Further Information

Association of Independent Financial Advisers (AIFA),
2-6 Austin Friars House, Austin Friars, London EC2N 2HD
Tel: 020 7628 1287
Website: www.aifa.net

Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland (CIOBS),
Drumsheugh House, 38b Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh EH3 7SW
Tel: 0131 473 7777
Website: www.ciobs.org.uk

Chartered Insurance Institute (CII),
20 Aldermanbury, London EC2V 7HY
Tel: 020 7417 4415
Websites: www.cii.co.uk

Financial Services Authority (FSA),
25 The North Colonnade, Canary Wharf, London E14 5HS
Tel: 020 7066 1000
Website: www.fsa.gov.uk

Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC),
51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ
Tel: 0845 257 3772
Website: www.fssc.org.uk

The Institute of Financial Planning (IFP),
Whitefriars Centre, Lewins Mead, Bristol BS1 2NT
Tel: 0117 945 2470
Website: www.financialplanning.org.uk

Institute of Financial Services (IFS), IFS House,
4-9 Burgate Lane, Canterbury CT1 2XJ
Tel: 01227 762600
Website: www.ifslearning.com

The National Skills Academy for Financial Services,
Financial Services Skills Council (FSSC),
51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ
Tel: 0845 257 3772
Website: www.nsafs.co.uk

The Personal Finance Society,
20 Aldermanbury, London EC2V 7HY
Tel: 020 7796 3882
Website: www.thepfs.org

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