As a career, financial advice has a variety of paths. Financial advisers work in a range of settings, from major international banks to smaller independent firms or even self-employed from home. Once you have completed your qualifications and training, you can specialize in areas such as pension schemes, mortgages, or compliance, perhaps working your way up to take on a more senior role in your firm or – when you have sufficient experience – starting a business of your own.
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Studying and training
Since 2009, the finance industry has become even more tightly regulated, with trainee financial advisers required to have a good foundation qualification. Degrees in any discipline are useful when looking for a trainee role, but subjects such as accountancy, business management, and finance studies can be particularly advantageous.
Providing financial advice is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, which requires professional qualifications to practice. Many employers provide on-the-job training and will support their trainees in studying to gain the minimum FCA-approved Level 4 qualifications. If you want to specialize, additional qualifications are needed for your chosen path. On top of this, every qualified financial adviser who sells investment products must have a valid statement of professional standing, which proves they have agreed to a code of ethics and that they have completed a minimum of 35 hours’ professional training annually so that their knowledge of the industry and its rules are up to date.
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Working as an independent financial adviser
In the UK, all financial advisers will begin their careers working for an employer such as a bank, an insurer, or an independent financial adviser firm. If your ambition is to go into business yourself, you will need to demonstrate your track record of competence and that you can comply with the strict reporting and compliance rules that come with giving independent financial advice.
Working in a medium-sized independent financial advice company and using back-office systems for IFAs is the useful experience – back office systems for IFAs are essential for streamlining day-to-day tasks in addition to providing advisers with the information they need to help their clients make the right decisions.
Complying with the complex and stringent regulations in financial advice can be a daunting prospect; however, with the sophisticated technologies now available to financial advisers big and small, a career in financial advice, whichever route you choose, can be very fulfilling.