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If you are interested in the world of investments and personal finance and you enjoy working with people, you could consider a career in financial advice.

The role of a financial adviser

Financial advisers help clients make financial decisions with confidence. Advice can cover a range of areas such as pensions, investments, estate planning, tax planning, financial protection and more.

An adviser should understand their clients’ goals, needs and risk appetite before making recommendations. It is also important to inform and educate a client on the associated risks and opportunities.

An Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) offers independent advice on financial matters to their clients. They consider and recommend suitable financial products from the whole of the market, providing unbiased and unrestricted advice. This differentiates them from other advisers in the market who operate on a ‘restricted’ basis. They can only recommend certain types of products from one or a limited number of providers.

The process

There are two main routes you can choose to become fully qualified, the first being the academic route or, alternatively, you can join an IFA firm who offer a progression plan to the role.

  • Academic route – Getting a degree in a finance related subjects such as Accounting, Business Management or Economics. Alternatively, you can do an Apprenticeship which will give you the opportunity to work alongside your studies. You will still be able to qualify at the same level as someone who has been to university.
  • Progression plan – On the other hand, you can gain an entry-level job in financial services or ideally a financial planning organisation and work your way up. This may be a longer route and would require a lot of dedication but in the end, you can still become a fully qualified adviser.

The main requirement for both routes is for you to gain a level 4 qualification in financial advice. The certification can be gained through any one of the institutions below, or if you’ve chose to go down the academic route, your course may have already covered all or part of it.


As with all jobs, your personal skills play a key role in completing your job successfully. The skills you will need to be a successful IFA are listed below. Do not worry if you don’t already have these, there will be opportunities to grow these in your role. If you do want to try and develop these skills before you commence employment, there are personal development courses available, either online or in person.

  • excellent communication, interpersonal and listening skills
  • the capability to explain complex information simply and clearly
  • the ability to network and establish relationships with clients
  • research and analytical skills
  • negotiation and influencing skills as well as determination and tenacity
  • the ability to work in a team
  • time management skills
  • customer service skills
  • self-motivation and organisation
  • a good level of numeracy and IT skills
  • a target-driven mindset
  • a flexible approach to work
  • decision-making skills
  • discretion and an understanding of the need for client confidentiality
  • an ethical and professional approach to work
Salary Expectations

In the UK, the average salary for a trainee IFA is between £22,000 to £30,000. For a qualified IFA it is between £30,000 and £40,000, with senior advisers earning around £60,000.

It is worth bearing in mind that a significant amount of a financial adviser’s total earnings may be in the form of bonuses. This may rise or fall depending on business performance.

Working hours can vary with most IFA’s hours being flexible. You may sometimes be required to work evenings and weekends.

Taking it a step further

Once you’ve fully qualified as an IFA and have achieved the relevant level 4 qualification, you can work towards higher qualifications such as becoming a Chartered Financial Planner.

Qualifying as a Chartered Planner demonstrates your commitment and your proven expertise to meet the high standards of the Charted Insurance Institute (CII).  You will need to complete additional exams and it requires at least 5 years of experience in an IFA role to gain this status.

Having chartered status can give you a competitive edge, but it is also becoming more of a requirement for clients as well as financial planning companies. It shows that the adviser has more extensive knowledge of the industry and this can instil confidence in clients.

Employee Testimonial

Lauren McHenry, who has progressed from paraplanner to IFA at Pareto says,

No day is the same for me, really. I get to meet so many different people and work on a variety of cases. Even the pace of each day varies, so I don’t think I could ever get bored!
I learn new things all the time in this job. Not just through exams but just day-to-day, I feel like I can ask anyone for guidance and they’re always helpful and supportive.”


See our latest vacancies here.

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Personal circumstances differ and not all of this information is applicable to every client and/or their business, this information is general in nature and should not be relied upon without seeking specific professional financial advice.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) does not regulate tax advice, estate planning, trusts or will writing.

The content in this article is for your general information and use only and is not intended to address your particular requirements. Articles should not be relied upon in their entirety and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute, advice.

Although endeavours have been made to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No individual or company should act upon such information without receiving appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of their particular situation. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of any articles.

Thresholds, percentage rates and tax legislation may change in subsequent finance acts. Levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation are subject to change and their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor. The value of your investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

Pareto Financial Planning Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).