A Career as a Financial Adviser

Overview

Financial Advisers are responsible for assisting either private or corporate clients with the management of their financial affairs.  They offer advice on the range of products and services that best suit each client’s requirements and assist with any necessary application processes.  Some Financial Advisers operate on an independent basis whereby they are able to advise on all products offered across the market whereas others are “tied” to only offering the products available from one company.

A Financial Adviser is generally responsible for managing their own client portfolio and for arranging appointments when required.  They use the time spent with their clients to collate all necessary information to ensure that the subsequent advice provided is appropriate.  They are required to have an excellent knowledge of an extensive product range which can include pensions, investments, insurances, savings plans and critical illness cover.  They are also strictly governed by the code of practice of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and must maintain awareness of any changes in legislation or best practice.

Entry requirements

Although they normally keep office hours, Financial Advisers are obliged to meet with clients at their convenience which often means working in the evening and at weekends.  Many Financial Advisers enter the industry from a sales- or customer-oriented role.  Excellent communication skills are vital complemented by the ability to disseminate often complex financial information in a way that their clients fully understand.  However, one of the most essential requirements of the role is integrity.  A Financial Adviser handles confidential and sensitive information regarding the financial status of their clients and is obligated to provide them with advice that is both accurate and impartial.

Before being able to provide financial advice, it is essential to receive FSA authorisation and many employers also require completion of a recognised qualification approved by the Financial Service Skills Council (FSSC).  The Institute of Financial Services (IFS), the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and the Securities and Investments Institute (SII) all offer accreditation to Financial Advisers.  It is also possible to complete a degree in Financial Services to facilitate career development.

Progression opportunities

All banks and building societies, including Natwest, Barclays, Nationwide and Abbey, employ Financial Advisers and many are also employed by insurance companies.  It is a highly target-driven industry and the salary reflects this: while the basic pay is average there are opportunities to achieve a significantly higher salary according to performance.  There are also other benefits available including car allowance/company car and insurance policies.  There is very little opportunity for promotion as such although by demonstrating a successful track record in target achievement, it is possible to progress to a higher-paid role or to work on a self-employed basis.

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