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    Financial Adviser

    If you are wondering how to become a financial adviser, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of banking and finance, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Financial advisers help clients to choose the most suitable financial products and services, such as investments, savings, pensions, mortgages or insurance.

    Financial advisers can work in one of three ways – ‘tied’, ‘multi-tied’ or independent:

    tied advisers usually work for banks, building societies or insurance companies, and only offer that company’s financial products
    multi-tied advisers deal with a number of companies and sell products from only those companies
    independent financial advisers (IFAs) offer whole-of-market advice.

    Typical responsibilities:

    setting up meetings with clients
    finding out about clients’ current finances and future plans
    researching financial products
    explaining details of products so that clients can make informed choices
    meeting sales targets
    negotiating with providers of financial products
    keeping detailed records
    producing financial reports
    keeping clients regularly updated about their investments
    keeping up to date with new products and changes in the law.
    You would need to follow strict rules and guidelines from the Financial Services Authority (FSA), to make sure that you act fairly and are properly qualified to give appropriate financial advice.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good financial adviser include:

    excellent communication and listening skills
    the ability to explain complex information clearly and simply
    good sales and negotiation skills
    an interest in financial products and markets
    good mathematical and computer skills
    the drive and motivation to meet targets
    honesty and a trustworthy manner
    accuracy and attention to detail
    the ability to analyse and research information.

    How to become a financial adviser
    There are no set entry requirements for becoming a financial adviser. Many employers consider ‘people skills’ and a strong background in customer service, sales or financial services to be more important than formal qualifications.

    You will often start as a tied adviser in a bank, building society or insurance company, after being promoted from a customer service role and working towards a Financial Services Authority-approved qualification.

    You could also start as a paraplanner, providing administrative support and research for independent financial advisers.

    If you are not already working in financial services, you could take an FSA-approved qualification for trainee financial advisers before you join the industry. See Training section below for full details.

    Some banks, building societies and large firms of IFAs offer graduate training schemes for new advisers with degrees or similar qualifications.

    You may be able to get into the financial services industry through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers.

    Training and Development
    Your training will usually be a mixture of practical experience and study for qualifications in financial planning. If you are a tied adviser, you will also receive training in your company’s financial products.

    As a trainee financial adviser you must take an industry-recognised qualification that meets Financial Services Authority (FSA) standards. The most widely-known qualifications are:

    Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) Certificate in Financial Planning
    ifs School of Finance Certificate for Financial Advisers (CeFA).
    You can find a full list of appropriate exams for giving financial advice from the Financial Services Skills Council.

    You can study flexibly by distance learning, or at colleges or private training centres. See the CII or ifs School of Finance websites for more details on their qualifications and training.

    You should continue to develop your skills and knowledge throughout your career. You may help your career by taking more advanced qualifications such as:

    CII Diploma in Financial Planning
    CII Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning.
    You can achieve Chartered Financial Planner status with the CII when you have the CII Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning and at least five years’ experience in the industry. See the CII and Personal Finance Society websites for more details.

    The CII and ifs School of Finance both offer a range of short courses and formal continuing professional development (CPD) schemes to help you keep up to date with new products and financial regulations.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Financial advisers working for a company are usually paid a basic salary plus commission. Independent financial advisers can be paid either by fees or commission.

    Basic salaries without commission are around £18,000 to £25,000 a year.
    Salaries including commission (known as OTE or ‘on target earnings’) may be advertised as up to £40,000 or £50,000 a year, although this is based on meeting targets and is not guaranteed.

    Job Prospects
    You could work for any organisation that sells financial products, such as banks, building societies or firms of investment consultants. You could also be an independent financial adviser, either for a firm of IFAs or self-employed.

    Jobs may be advertised in the local and national press, on employers’ own websites, in industry magazines and by specialist financial recruitment agencies.

    If you work for a large financial organisation, with experience you could move into management or compliance work (making sure that the company follows FSA regulatory guidelines).

    Useful banking and financial services resources:
    Financial Services Skills Council
    51 Gresham Street
    London
    EC2V 7HQ
    Tel: 0845 257 3772
    http://www.fssc.org.uk/

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