It’s one of those jobs that we hear mentioned all the time but maybe don’t fully understand what it is or what one actually does. In a nutshell, a financial advisor helps their clients choose financial products and services such as investments, mortgages, pensions and insurance. It is a pretty broad term and financial advisers can work specifically within one of these areas or can provide more general financial advice.
It goes without saying that maths skills and the desire to work within finance are a must, but a financial advisor must also be able to communicate complex material with ease and have a flair for building relationships with clients. If you are considering becoming one, here’s some of the basic information that you will need…
Entry level positions are often open to candidates with a wide variety of educational backgrounds but diplomas or a degree in subjects such as financial studies, economics, business management or accountancy will stand you in very good stead. As of the end of 2012 all financial advisors have been required to pass examinations on a range of financial and regulatory areas, the minimum required by law is now a QCF Level 4 qualification which can be undertaken through a number of institutions including the Institute of Financial Services, the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Chartered Banker Institute.
The area of finance that you wish to work in will dictate which of the Level 4 qualifications you will need to complete. The qualifications available are; diploma in regulated financial planning, diploma in investment planning, diploma for financial advisers, investment advice diploma and diploma in professional financial advice. (All of these diplomas can be offered as distance learning courses.)
Advisors who wish to work selling investment products, securities or derivatives must also carry a ‘Statement of Professional Standing’ which must be renewed annually and is subject to at least 35 hours of professional training each year.
Be aware that these are only the minimum requirements to be a fully accredited financial adviser and there are qualifications available up to QFC Level 8 (PhD).
Experience and Skills
Whilst qualifications are essential to becoming a financial advisor it’s wise to remember that prior experience and relevant skills are also of huge importance. Employers will be looking for candidates who:
have great communication skills, can develop excellent relationships with clients
have solid research and analytical skills
are persuasive and effective negotiators
have a firm grasp of numeracy
are discreet and have the highest level of professional integrity
are able to work in a highly target driven environment
If you lack the relevant qualifications but would like to gain first hand experience of what a career in financial services would be like, it’s worth considering applying for a paraplanner position. A paraplanner is essentially someone who works with a financial advisor and provides them with a wide range of non-client facing support – it is a job role which has only really existed for the past decade or so and is increasingly being used as a stepping stone towards become a fully qualified financial adviser.
Still fancy becoming a financial adviser? Good luck and we hope you found this information useful!
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