Financial advisers give guidance to their clients on the optimum ways to manage their money. This may combine investment strategies with saving methods and pensions.
What is a financial adviser?
Financial advisers support clients to get maximum benefit from their money. They will take detailed information from clients on their income, expenditure and their projected money goals, then give advice on the best way to reach those goals. Financial advisers will usually support investment and pension decisions, advising on the best services and systems to use based on the needs of their clients. They are also known as financial planners or wealth managers.
As a financial adviser you could work within a large company like an accounting firm, or independently. You might specialise in a particular area of finance, like advising on the best pension schemes to join or which stocks and shares schemes to invest in.
While you do not always need a degree to work in financial planner jobs, it is helpful.
Financial advisers usually work in one of two ways, restricted and independent. Restricted advisors usually work within a company that oversees their advice and gives them set products to promote to clients. By contrast, independent financial advisers (IFAs) must give clients a full, unbiased range of options, meaning their duties could be more expansive than a restricted adviser.
Your responsibilities as a financial adviser will depend on a variety of factors. These include whether you are restricted or IFA, your location, and any specialisms you have.
Common duties for financial advisers include:
- Meeting clients and taking a full briefing of their financial affairs, including income, expenditure, current investment status, assets and financial goals - this is also referred to as a ‘fact finding’ meeting.
- Making a detailed analysis of client’s financial situation, assessing affordability for investment schemes and calculating projected incomes and expenditure.
- Keeping an up to date awareness of different investment strategies and changes to them, both physical and liquid investments.
- Having a sound awareness of the money market, keeping abreast of projections that could affect your clients’ wealth.
- Advising clients on the best funds or assets to invest in based on their needs and financial goals.
- Creating detailed reports outlining your recommendations, explaining why particular plans or funds are the best option for your client’s needs.
- Working within a wider team of sales and finance professionals, especially if you work within a wider organisation.
- Liaising with product providers to get the best rates and options for your clients.
- Keeping in contact with clients to advise on any changes to their investments if there are particular changes in market conditions.
- Ensuring your work is compliant with expectations from external bodies, such as the Financial Conduct Authority.
- If you are a restricted adviser, promoting particular products or services that your company are focusing on, especially if you have set sales targets to meet.
A financial adviser salary varies considerably depending on your location, company and expertise. Financial advisers working in wealthier areas of the country, particularly large cities, the home counties and London, are likely to attract higher salaries. If you work within a substantial company or one which commonly attracts high worth clients, you are again likely to earn a higher salary. Financial advisers with specific expertise are also likely to earn more.
The average financial adviser salary in the UK is around £60,000. Trainee financial adviser jobs are likely to earn around £23,000 - £35,000 depending on location, while a senior financial consultant salary could earn £100,000 and beyond.
Many financial advisers also work on a commission basis. They may earn particular bonuses if their clients decide to purchase a product or service that their company wants to promote at a given time.
While you do not always need a degree to work in financial planner jobs, it is helpful. This is particularly true when applying for competitive positions or training programs, where many applicants are likely to be graduates. You may find that some positions are advertised as graduate financial adviser jobs.
Degrees that would align well with financial advice work include:
Alternatively, you could begin your work in the area of finance with a financial advisor apprenticeship. These are usually taught at Level 3, and require 4-5 GCSEs at grades 9-4 (A*-C) including English and Maths.
All individuals working in financial adviser jobs, must complete a professional qualification accredited by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). There are a variety of different qualifications accredited by the FCA, though they are usually carried out at diploma level and cover topics such as a Diploma in Professional Financial Advice. Qualifications are usually assessed at Level 4. If you work within a retailer, like a bank or building society, you will also need to gain a Statement of Professional Standing (SPS) from the FCA. This is also assessed at Level 4.
Training and development
Your training as a financial adviser will combine any previous study history with qualifying courses. The majority of financial advisers begin working through an employer, where they will receive on-the-job training in the practical elements of financial advice, as well as working towards the relevant diplomas they need to practise. Many accountancy firms and banks offer financial advice training programs which result in training, including an FCA approved diploma.
Finance and accounting jobs can be competitive, so it’s a good idea to build experience before applying for a role.
SPS holders must carry out 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) each year. They must also ensure they meet FCA requirements on professionalism standards. CPD opportunities could include shadowing senior staff, attending seminars and workshops and taking further courses to extend their learning. Many institutions accredited by the FCA to deliver Level 4 courses also offer extended learning opportunities to help advisers specialise in particular areas of wealth management such as pension transfers and life insurance.
Your skills as a financial adviser combine robust financial knowledge with an ability to meet client needs.
- Excellent listening skills, taking in key financial information from clients during fact finding meetings and helping them assess what their financial goals are, if they aren’t sure.
- Excellent working knowledge of the products and services on offer across investment and financial services - if you are restricted, this will usually be around the specific products your company promotes, while IFAs will need a broader knowledge of all products available at the time of meeting.
- Strong verbal communication skills - you will need to discuss important, detailed financial information with a clients in an accessible way.
- Excellent researching skills - you will need to take in client information then conduct detailed research on the best products for their financial needs and goals.
- Strong written communication skills - you will be compiling reports for clients summarising your research findings, and these need to be both detailed and accessible for those without set financial knowledge.
- Excellent team working skills, especially if you work within a large company.
- Great customer service to ensure clients are satisfied with advice and guidance given.
- Ability to keep up to date to changes in the market that could affect clients.
- Ability to keep up with compliance measures given by the FCA.
Finance and accounting jobs can be competitive, so it’s a good idea to build experience before applying for a role. If you choose to go to university, you could opt for a course with a year in industry, and focus on financial advice. If you are studying for a three year degree, you could reach out to your course tutors and ask if they have any connections in the field that you could shadow. You could also take advantage of connections while studying, such as joining finance or accounting societies.
Financial advisers support clients to get maximum benefit from their money.
You could also reach out directly to financial companies or independent FCA certified advisers. It’s a good idea to ask if they would allow a work experience placement student to observe their work. You may find that you are not able to witness specific client meetings or observe set tasks due to client confidentiality. Time spent in a customer facing role, particularly where information, advice and guidance is given, could be advantageous too.
Financial advice is an exciting industry, so there is plenty of opportunity for progression. You will likely begin as a trainee financial planner, building up your experience as you gain your level 4 qualification and SPS. After this, with experience and good performance, you could work towards specialisms within your employer or take on management responsibilities.
Many financial advisers begin work in a large company, then specialise into particular areas within wealth manager jobs. You might need to move between companies in order to access more responsibility or new positions, as well as higher salaries. You could take on further study at degree or masters level if you haven’t already, as well as advanced diplomas at level 6.
You could begin your career as a restricted adviser and eventually move towards becoming an IFA. You could set up your own private practice, or even your own financial advice company.