Financial Advisor Careers

How to become financial advisor

What does a financial advisor do?

Financial advisors or consultants help clients to sort out their financial needs, and advise them of suitable financial products and services. The products available include:

  • pensions
  • mortgages
  • investments
  • house and life insurance
  • critical illness cover
  • income protection
  • savings plans.

Clients can be corporate or individual.

Financial advisors can act as tied or independent agents. Tied agents offer the products of one company whereas independents need to offer whole-of-market advice. New rules state that financial advisors can now offer both types of advice as long as they clearly inform the client of which role they are in.

Day-to-day activities include questioning clients to gather information, researching products and making recommendations. They may work with paraplanners that collate product research into written reports. Advisors will also have meetings with providers of financial products, such as broker consultants. Financial consultants need to keep up to date with any changes in the legislation or developments in best practice.

Financial advisors are governed by the Financial Services Authority's (FSA) code of practice and their firm must seek approval for them before they can engage in any regulated activities, such as investment advice. Financial advisors must act in an impartial and ethical manner, or their approval could be withdrawn.


What's the working environment like for a financial advisor?

Hours may vary depending on whether they are tied or independent, and depending on their employer. Most advisors usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, tied advisors often work Saturdays on a rota basis. IFA's often have to meet clients during the evenings and sometimes at weekends, as well as during normal office hours.

Most advisors work from an office but some work from home. A driving licence is essential as travel will be involved.

What does it take to become a financial advisor?

As a financial advisor you should:

  • be numerate and computer literate
  • have integrity and confidence
  • have the ability to understand how financial products work
  • have determination, as you are selling your services and products to your clients
  • be able to keep up with new trends in the financial market
  • have good research skills, and the ability to analyse and present information
  • have good communication skills, and the ability to explain complex ideas to clients
  • have excellent listening and questioning skills
  • be able to inspire confidence and trust.

You can get into a trainee role by having gfood GCSE's in English and maths. Work experience will also be useful. This can be in customer service or finance. Some people opt to start in an assistant role as a paraplanner, which supports financial advisors. 

It will also help you to get a qualification in financial advice that is approved by the Financial Conduct Authority. this can be one independently or whilst you're working.

Alternatively, you may be able to gain entry to this job through an apprenticeship. 

Financial advisor career opportunities

Financial advisors can be employed by any company selling financial products such as a bank, building society or an IFA. With experience, it is also possible to become self-employed. At least two years of post-qualifying experience is preferred.

The financial services sector has grown quickly since the mid 1980s. Financial advisors with either a Certificate in Financial Planning or an AFPC can become members of the Personal Finance Society (a member of the CII Group). They will need to abide by a professional code of conduct and can develop through conferences, seminars and workshops.

Financial advisors can move into management positions or into training or marketing.

There are opportunities for experienced advisors to work for banks, building societies or insurance companies dealing with compliance. This means making sure that the company is following the guidelines and standards laid down by regulatory bodies as well as their own company rules.

Further information

If you would like to learn mroe about becoming a financial advisor that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Financial Services Skills Council
51 Gresham Street
Tel: 020 7216 7366

Institute of Financial Services
IFS House
4-9 Burgate Lane
Tel: 01227 818609

Chartered Insurance Institute
20 Aldermanbury
Tel: 020 8989 8464

Personal Finance Society
42-48 High Road
South Woodford
E18 2JP
Tel: 020 8530 0852

Securities & Investment Institute (SII)
Centurion House
24 Monument Street
Tel: 020 7645 0680

The Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland
Drumsheugh House
38b Drumsheugh Gardens
Tel: 0131 473 7777

Financial Services Authority
25 The North Colonnade
Canary Wharf
E14 5HS
Tel: 020 7066 1000


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