How to Become a Financial Advisor

Financial advisors provide advice and assistance to people when selecting the financial services and products that suit their needs and requirements. This could include mortgages, savings, insurance products, investments and more.

Working as a financial advisor usually involves meeting with clients to discuss their current financial situation and plans for the future, assisting them with researching suitable financial products, explaining and recommending products to clients, writing up financial reports, detailed record-keeping, and updating clients on their investment portfolios. You’ll need to be ready to handle any client enquiries by staying regularly updated on the financial market, legislation, and compliance. 

#1. Where to Work:

There are three different types of financial advisor position that you may want to consider. Firstly, you may work as a ‘tied’ financial advisor, working as an employee of a particular bank or building society to provide financial advice to their customers. If you choose this position, you will only be permitted to recommend the products and services of the company that you work for. Or, you could work as a multi-tied financial advisor, where you work for several different companies and recommend their products. Lastly, an independent financial advisor (IFA) does not work with any particular company and, therefore, provides advice on all financial products and services available on the market.

#2. Working Hours and Conditions:

The hours and conditions of your work will vary largely depending on the type of financial advisor career you choose. Generally, you’ll work regular 9-5, Monday to Friday office hours, particularly if you are tied to a bank or building society. Some financial advisors will also work some weekend hours. If you decide to work as an independent financial advisor, you may be self-employed and can, therefore, choose your own working hours. Whilst you’ll likely work from an office if you’re employed by a company, IFAs, on the other hand, tend to visit clients in their homes and are more likely to work outside of office hours to accommodate their clients’ needs.

#3. Qualifications:

Before you can practice as a financial advisor, you’ll need to get a relevant qualification that is recognised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). At the very least, you will need to have gained GCSEs in Maths and English and whilst it’s not always essential, a finance or maths-related degree is desirable. Many banks and building societies offer financial advisor training or graduate schemes, or for those who prefer to learn on the job, you can take a Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship in Financial Advice. There are also several additional courses that you may wish to take to widen your experience and increase your chances of landing a role.

Chartered Institute for Securities & Investments (CISI) qualifications in wealth and investment management or taxation, for example, are available as either e-learning or classroom-based from will make you more attractive to both potential employers and clients. Pick from these CISI training providers to find a course that is suitable for you.

#4. Skills You Need:

Of course, as with any job, simply having the right qualifications alone won’t make you a great financial advisor. To do the job well and be noticed by employers and clients, you’ll need to possess a certain skill-set. To become a successful financial advisor, you will need strong written and verbal communication skills, strong research and analytical skills, and good sales skills. You’ll need to be proficient in maths and computer-literate, whilst being able to explain complicated information to your clients in layman’s terms. Personally, you’ll need to be motivated, discreet, trustworthy, and have good attention to detail.

#5. Finding Opportunities:

Once you’ve studied for relevant qualifications and brushed up on any necessary skills, it’s time to start looking for a job as a financial advisor. Whilst it’s possible to go self-employed from the start, many new financial advisors prefer to work for a well-known bank, building society or insurance company at the beginning to gain experience and credibility. Vacancies for financial advisor positions may be advertised by recruitment agencies, in the national press, on employers’ websites, and in industry magazines.

And, once you have secured a position with a large financial organisation, there will be opportunities for you to move up the ranks into management or compliance roles. It can also be useful to regularly read publications such as Financial Advisor, Money Marketing, and The Financial Advisor School. Not only are vacancies regularly advertised here, but they will also provide you with a wealth of advice for improving your career skills and becoming successful at what you do.

Since the majority of people do not have an in-depth understanding of how the financial system works, there will always be a need for financial advisors and planners. In fact, the Career Office for National Statistics predicts that there will be steady growth in this sector in the next few years.

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