We all need advice from time to time. Be it medical, legal or financial. People generally tend to be wary about sharing the last one with complete stranger, even if he is a certified professional financial advisor. As per a survey by “Best Jobs” survey by U.S News[i] financial advisory is the 9th best business job and 19th in the list of best paying jobs. The unemployment rate in this profession is at a low 1.8%. A majority of households in the U.S are not yet using the services of financial advisory and 40% of the current crop of current advisors will retire in the next 10 years or so. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates this profession will grow by 14.9% 2016 and 2026. Interestingly developing countries like India[ii] have been found to have a 71% of investors are trusting of their financial advisors compared to 54% globally.
How Deep is the Need for Financial Advisory
In a survey, 87%[iii]of the financial planners had very high confidence and 75% had a very positive outlook towards the potential of their profession and earnings. Their confidence stemmed from three important behavioural aspects of people –
- An early planning while entering adulthood,
- Long-term focus found in young adults
- Discipline of people meeting their financial planners on a regular basis and seeking fruitful advice
It was interesting to note that three-fourths of the people wanted to be happy and satisfied with a well-organized personal finance aspect while two-thirds of the people were keen on organizing and centralising their finances and investments.
Choosing the Field of Financial Advisory
So all this should give you a positive reinforcement to choose the field of financial advisory. If you are considering whether to become a financial advisor or not – consider this – what is a quality that you require to be a trusted and confident financial advisor? It is the ability to connect with your client and understand his exact needs while prescribing solutions to his financial woes.
If a client tells you he needs money to build a house – as a financial advisor who is smart, you will not just tell him about the best home loans but also keep a check on his expenditure. The client doesn’t always realise some obvious things which you as his financial planner need to make him realise.
Becoming a Financial Advisor
Financial advisory salaries in the UK can range from a base pay[iv] of £22,000 to an average of £97,286[v] for more experience. It is definitely lucrative enough to start your own practice once you have a stable client base and name in the industry. For a person to start off as a financial advisor, you need to understand FINANCE. While tracking stocks might not be your forte but seeing the big picture like a comprehensive coverage plan for a client – investments, insurance, retirement, children’s goals and daily needs – all with the sword of taxation hanging over your head. All have to be catered to keeping in view the aim of maximum returns and meeting financial goals.
Qualifications and Experience
You also have to be qualified by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) at a minimum Level 4. Some of the qualifications valid to becoming a financial advisor are as follows –
Diploma Regulated Financial Planning – Level 4 of CII (Chartered Insurance Institute)
Investment Advice Diploma – Level 4 of CISI (Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment) and IFS Diploma for Financial Advisers and Professional Certificate in Banking – Level 4.
You need to have a GCSE in Maths and English along with sales and finance experience along with customer service orientation. You should be able to have a work experience under a training scheme with a bank or financial institution. Once you graduate with your qualification, you can go for graduate level schemes for training. Once the Level 4 is complete, you can go for apprenticeship positions in various financial planner companies or banks.
Finally, you need to get a proficiency check from [vi]DBS – A Disclosure and Barring Service check from the tax authorities.
Skills and Discipline to be a Financial Advisor
Just alike doctor need to create a system of diagnosing the patients and following a protocol in prescribing or advising, a financial advisor also needs to have few specific thumb-rules to function. You need to have a proven proficiency in maths and arithmetic skills to be able to give quick estimates to you clients. You need to have an ability to be a good researcher and keep yourself updated with the latest products and regulations in all categories. This is essential to advisory as some products can suit few while for others you might need to find another product plan.
A sales skill is important to be able to generate trust in your abilities and also for you to be able to sell your comprehensive financial plan to the client.
Also a client is going to reveal crucial financial information to you and it is of utmost importance as a professional that you maintain confidentiality and are trustworthy. Your discretion will lead you to build a long-term trust with your client.
A motivation is required to analyse your client’s real issues which many times take the form of financial issues. Your determination to extract real and important information will determine how successful your advisory is.
Channels for Financial Advisory
You can either be attached to banks or financial institution with financial advisory, or become an Independent financial advisor (IFA) where you can get registered with the association and become an accredited member. IFAs can charge hourly rates ranging from a £75 upwards to whatever you can earn. Financial advisory is a large ocean where you can develop a niche to advise specific issues or segment of people. Debt management is one of the foremost issues for all age groups.
Specialties in Financial Advisory
If you are unaware of the kinds of advisory you can do, take a look at this list which divides specialities per subject areas where people need advice.
- Equities or Stocks – You can be a stock market guru and become a register advisor after taking the required stock trading certifications as well. People are keen on jumping in the stock market and making a kill. As a holistic financial advisor you can view your client’s financial health and advise him for or against stocks or specific investments.
- Retirement – This is another area where people need to start planning well in advance. This is a slippery slope for many as they get caught up in planning for the near future and taking care of children’s education or paying for the mortgage.
- Inheritance – There are various tax advantages people can take by transferring money to their heirs within the specified timelines. English law has clearly laid down laws which you can educate your clients on and how they can plan their inheritance transfer
- Creation and Execution of Will – Writing a will is an important aspect in inheritance which affects to who the executor is and in how many ways is the wealth divided. An experienced financial advisor can be a boon to people
- Real Estate –an advisor is required to clear the haze of confusion over land laws and commercial rules when people are trying to manage their properties
- Taxes – Personal income tax can be confusing when people have multiple income sources or they are unaware of how to invest under various deductions to gain tax breaks. Tax planning can be a complicated exercise for many and a smart financial advisor always catches the pulse of the client on how he/she plans to plan for taxes. People with large estates and wealth need continuous monitoring and management of tax liabilities that might arise due to movement of assets or even change in values of those assets.
- Investments – planning for a house or financial goals can be a tough job with a daily grind. A financial advisor is an outsourced , trusted “finance doctor” who can manage these investments for them without any hassles.
Not just in the UK but across the Atlantic and in other countries, becoming a financial advisor is fast becoming a profession of first as well as second careers. A report called 2017 Best Business Jobs by the U.S News & World Report ranked financial advisor as the No. 3 profession with top growth prospects. People are now looking at this as a second career as well after retirement from a company based job as this can be conducted from anywhere with valid licenses.
When Should You Think of Becoming a Financial Advisor
Not everyone can become everything. If you are considering if this is the right profession for you – ask yourself these questions first[vii]–
- Do you like interacting with people about various problems> Can you become a ‘financial agony aunt’? Most people will come to you when they are in deep debt or need serious advice. Your temperament should be such that you can not only give them strong advice but comfort them
- Do you see yourself helping people and making a difference in their lives by their goodwill or sometimes even by force when you need to force a change of habit?
- Do you find meeting new challenges and complicated problems interesting?
- Do you have an inclination for calculations and comfort with numbers ?
- Do you find investments interesting and you can add up different solutions give a holistic one to your clients?
It is important that you understand the nature of the job and the demands it will have not just on your time but mental faculties. People tend to get jittery with regards to their money and they are bound to be calling every time and anytime they might have a question. You need to be ready and smart enough to create a distinction between your personal and professional life.
Also, you need to be tough in facing situations where a client might lose money over your advice. These are part and parcel of the long haul of the profession.
If you are comfortable with these questions then you can be a good financial advisor.
Pros and Cons of Becoming a Financial Advisor
Finally, let us look at a final good and bad of this profession to help you make your decision. While you might have the requisite characteristics and a keenness to earn in this profession, sometimes specific cons can be a deal-breaker. Likewise even one or two points can help the tilt the decision in this profession’s favour.
- You are a trusted and well-aware person in the field of investments and financial planning
- It adds to your personality and makes you more confident and responsible even as a person
- You can earn either with a company or go solo and become a freelancer and independent consultant
- You can multiply your earnings as you gain a large network and your services are trusted
- You can make difference in someone’s life by providing correct financial advice or saving their debt. People turn to an advisor when they are lost on their own
- Work life scheduling becomes much more possible if you work independently and this profession gives you that financial stability and courage
- You have to be on your feet to be out there and prospecting and finding new clients if you work with a company or if you have aggressive personal goals. As opposed to working for a fixed salary, this can be a never ending process
- It can be a stressful role[viii]for most people as you have to be personally liable for the advice and the high and lows of the markets will affect your clients’ fortunes
- There are multiple laws and regulations you need to comply with while providing financial advisory as you are a trustee of confidential information.
The UK has a large earing population from an age group of 15 years onwards. While people might assume financial advisory is only for the rich, the truth is everyone can do with a well-organized and comprehensive plan for their finances. A financial planner’s success is determined by the client’s success in maintaining his finances. A financial advisor is personally involved with the creation and monitoring of these goals.