Independent Financial Adviser
Independent financial advisers give advice about products such as pensions, life insurance, mortgages, savings, investments and financial protection policies. They are called independent because they can advise about products and schemes from the whole market - they are not tied to dealing only with one supplier.
Also known as
- Financial Adviser
- Retail Investment Adviser, Independent
- Financial Planner
Video: - Roger: Independent Financial Adviser
Video: - Norman: Financial Planner
As an Independent Financial Adviser, you will provide financial advice to help your clients to reach financial goals in a way that suits them best.
You also make arrangements for that advice to be taken up if the client wishes. Clients could be seeking investment advice for the short, medium or long term.
The products that you advise on include:
- life insurance and income protection policies
- savings accounts
- unit trusts, investment trusts and open-ended investment companies
New products are being designed all the time, and there are many different providers, so you need to keep up to date. You may specialise in one area - for example, retirement planning.
When you first meet a client, you discuss the client's current situation, carrying out a detailed fact-finding exercise in order to help them to identify their specific financial needs. You must also find out the level of risk the client is willing to take when investing money to achieve those goals.
For example, a self-employed person, or an employed person with limited sickness benefit facilities from their employer, might need to make financial plans to provide an income in case they are ill, as well as building up money for their retirement. Another person might want to set up a savings plan to help to pay for their children's university or college education, for example.
You might have to travel to the client's home or place of work for these meetings, although most client meetings take place in your office.
Once the client's requirements have been identified, you then research the financial market for appropriate solutions and recommends different options to the client. The client might then ask you to act on the recommendations (for example, by making arrangements for a policy to be set up) or to do further research.
You are legally required to keep a separate file on each client, where notes of every meeting, internal documents such as the fact find, and copies of all correspondence must be kept.
You must also keep detailed files covering the research that you have undertaken on products, and companies whose products you might recommend, which show the factors used by you for assessment and client suitability. You might have one or more Paraplanners who do this research and analysis work.
For products recommended, you must write a detailed explanation of the reasons behind the choices, how you met the client's particular needs and any financial risks involved.
Many Independent Financial Advisers provide a comprehensive financial planning service to their clients.
Comprehensive financial planning is a professional service which involves the development of strategies for clients who need unbiased help in organising their personal or business financial affairs to achieve their life goals.
Professional Financial Planner aim to help their clients define, review and reach their financial goals with less risk and cost than if they tried to do this by themselves.
A typical financial plan will contain some or all of the following reports, in which you make professional recommendations:
- life goals planning
- cash flow planning
- investment planning
- personal risk planning
- personal protection planning
- tax planning
- retirement planning
- estate planning
Independent Financial Advisers who provide a comprehensive financial planning service to their clients will typically follow a six-step process.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become an Independent Financial Adviser, you'll need to be:
- sensitive when giving advice to clients, sometimes in difficult circumstances
- methodical and thorough when doing research and writing up reports
- able to analyse and present technical information in an understandable way
- able to drive with a full driving licence
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £26,500 - £29,000
- With experience: £32,000 - £38,500
- Senior Independent Financial Advisers earn £44,500 - £50,000
Independent Financial Advisers have to agree their fee in advance with the client, and how it is to be paid. This fee could then be taken from a product which the client buys or invests in.
Hours of work
Your working hours can be erratic. Most divide their working hours between office/administration work and meeting potential and existing clients. Sometimes it is necessary for client meetings to take place in the early evening and occasionally at weekends.
Where could I work?
Employers are firms of Independent Financial Advisers, Financial Planners, Wealth Managers and some Insurance Brokers and Pension Consultants.
Opportunities for Independent Financial Advisers occur in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Some Independent Financial Advisers are self-employed. Some work from home or rent an office.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in the following places:
- local/national newspapers
- employers' websites
- Jobcentre Plus
- the Find a Job website
- job boards, such as IFAonlineJobs.co.uk
Entry Routes and Training
Some people start by gaining experience in a financial or insurance company, bank or building society, as a Paraplanner. Paraplanners support Independent Financial Advisers by researching products, drafting reports and keeping records.
Others start as Administrators or Sales Advisers. You can then study part-time for qualifications that will enable them to become Independent Financial Advisers.
An Advanced, Higher Level or Degree Apprenticeship is also a great place to start. Take a look at our information article
Some entrants have a degree, often in a subject such as finance, economics or business. The University of Bradford offers the degree in financial planning, which includes a year's work experience with a firm of Independent Financial Advisers.
Manchester Metropolitan University offers a degree in banking and finance.
Independent Financial Advisers must be registered with, and authorised by, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
If you would like some training, then Institute of Financial Services (IFS) offer a level 3 diploma in financial studies. This course is assessed by a multiple choice test and a written paper. The units you could be studying include:
- unit 1: financial capability for the immediate and short term
- unit 2: financial capability for the medium and long term
- unit 3: sustainability of an individual’s finances
- unit 4: sustainability of the financial services system
Check the website for dates and availability.
Other courses could be available in your area.
Many entrants have a background in other areas of financial work. This could be as a Bank Officer, or a Customer Adviser in a building society or insurance company, for example.
Fully qualified Independent Financial Advisers can progress by dealing with more complex client situations. There are further qualifications which many Independent Financial Advisers choose to take, such as certified financial planner certification awarded by the Institute of Financial Planning.
You can progress to Senior, Manager and Director positions. Some Independent Financial Advisers become self-employed or start their own business.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
Working as an Independent Financial Adviser is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to.
This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.
Entry to a trainee post might be possible with A levels or equivalent. Many applicants have a higher education (HE) qualification, such as a degree.
For entry to a degree in financial services, the usual minimum requirement is:
- 2/3 A levels
- GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 2/3 other subjects
- English and maths GCSEs at grade C/4 or above
Alternatives to A levels include:
- BTEC level 3 qualifications
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma
However, course requirements vary so check prospectuses carefully.
To get onto an Advanced or Higher Level Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least five GCSEs at A* - C or 9 - 4, including English and maths, and possibly two A Levels.
To get onto a Degree Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least 2 A levels.
UCAS tariff points from the ifs certificate or diploma in financial studies might be accepted by some institutions in combination with other qualifications.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Many entrants have a background in other areas of financial work. This could be as a bank officer, or a customer adviser in a building society or insurance company, for example.
A Higher Apprenticeship in Providing Financial Advice might be available in your area.
A clean, current driving licence is an advantage.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (for example, Access to Business) could be the way in.
These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.
The ifs School of Finance offers the Diploma for Financial Advisers, and the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) offers the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. Both are available by distance learning.
The Open University offers a foundation degree in Financial Services. The University of South Wales (formerly Glamorgan) offers a part-time foundation degree in Finance (Financial Planning).
- 25% of people in occupations such as independent financial adviser are self-employed.
- 12% work part-time.
- 12% have flexible hours.
- 2% of employees work on a temporary basis.
Publisher: Financial Skills Partnership (FSP)
Address: 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ
Tel: 0845 2573772
Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far
National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
Tel: 0800 015 0400
Financial Skills Partnership (FSP)
Skills for the financial, finance and accountancy sectors
Address: 51 Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HQ
Tel: 0845 2573772
Open University (OU)
Tel: 0845 3006090
Specialists in graduate careers
Address: Unit 6, The Quad, 49 Atalanta Street, Fulham, London SW6 6TU
Tel: 020 7565 7900
London Institute of Banking and Finance
Address: 8th Floor, Peninsular House, 36 Monument Street, London EC3R 8LJ
Tel: 020 7444 7111
Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)
Address: 42-48 High Road, South Woodford, London E18 2JP
Tel: 020 8989 8464
Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment
Address: Whitefriars Centre, Lewins Mead, Bristol BS1 2NT
Tel: 0117 9452470