How to Become a Financial Adviser in the UK

Financial Advisers assist people in selecting the financial services and products that best suit their circumstances. Such products include; savings, pensions, mortgages, insurance products and investments.

What Do Financial Advisers Do?

Your work as a Financial Advisor would usually involve:

  • Discussing clients’ current financial situation and plans for the future
  • Researching financial products
  • Explaining products to clients and preparing clear recommendations for them
  • Detailed record-keeping
  • Producing financial reports
  • Updating clients about their investment portfolios
  • Handling client enquiries
  • Keeping abreast of developments in financial legislation and compliance

There are three types of Financial Adviser:

  • Tied – working for building societies, banks or insurance companies and offering only that company’s products
  • Multi-tied – representing a number of companies and selling only their products
  • Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) – providing advice on the many financial products that are available on the market

It is crucial that you adhere to financial industry rules and guidelines to ensure that your advice is impartial and fair and that you are appropriately qualified to offer financial advice.

Working hours and conditions

The hours that you work vary depending on who you work for. Hours are generally 9am – 5pm weekdays with some Saturday mornings.

You might work in an office, estate agency or bank. As an IFA, you might work from home and travel to clients’ homes to meet them. IFAs commonly work evenings and at weekends to accommodate clients’ needs.


Trainee/newly qualified:

£22,000 to £30,000 per annum

With experience:

£40,000 per annum

Management role or private client advice

Up to £70,000 per annum


Commissions and fees to clients of £75 to £250 per hour

Commission is also paid by providers on insurance and mortgage products.

Source: National Careers Service

Qualifications Required

Before you can become a Financial Adviser, you will need to get a qualification in financial advice that is recognised by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority).

GCSEs in maths and English are also desirable together with some relevant work experience in sales, finance or customer services. This will enable you to apply for a Financial Adviser training role by:

  • Applying for a Financial Adviser training scheme with a building society or bank
  • Applying for a graduate training scheme with a building society, bank or large firm of IFAs. You will need a degree or similar qualification for this.
  • Taking a Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship in Providing Financial Advice, if one is available in your area

You will also need to have a credit check to ensure that you are not a bankrupt or have any outstanding debts of note. You will also need to undergo a DBS check.

You can check out some more detailed information on what you need to do to become a Financial Adviser on the Financial & Legal Skills Partnership (FLSP) website.

Skills, interests and qualities

To become a successful Financial Adviser, you will need:

  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • The ability to explain complicated information clearly
  • The ability to research and analyse information
  • Good sales skills
  • Proficiency in maths and computer skills
  • Motivation and determination
  • Discretion and trustworthiness
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Confidentiality and integrity

Training and development

All trainee Financial Advisers must hold an industry-recognised qualification as set out by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) at a minimum of Level 4. Recognised qualifications include:

  • CII (Chartered Insurance Institute) Diploma Regulated Financial Planning Level 4
  • CISI (Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment) Investment Advice Diploma Level 4
  • IFS Diploma for Financial Advisers and Professional Certificate in Banking Level 4

It’s possible to study at traditional colleges, private training centres or by distance learning. A list of training providers is available on the Directions website together with a complete list of all recognised qualifications.

Financial Advisers also need to hold a Statement of Professional Standing (SPS Certificate), which proves the validity of your qualifications and that you are registered with the FCA. You can apply for this every year through an FCA accredited body.

Regulation of the financial services industry and the legislation that controls it changes all the time and you must keep up to date with developments throughout your career. Short courses and professional development schemes are available through the ifs School of Finance, the CII and the CISI to help keep you up to speed with new products and legislation.

The Personal Finance Society is the professional body for the financial advice and planning industry. As a member, you will have access to their ongoing professional development schemes. Once you have gained the CII Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning and have at least five years’ industry experience, you can apply for Chartered Financial Planner status.


Vacancies for Financial Adviser positions with banks and building societies may be advertised in the national press, by recruitment agencies, in industry magazines or on employers’ websites.

Once you have secured a position with a large financial organisation, it may be possible to move into management or compliance work ensuring that the company follows regulatory guidelines.

The following publications contain lists of vacancies and other useful general reading:

There will always be a need for financial planners, because the majority of people have no idea how the financial system works. As such the career Office for National Statistics predicts that this sector will see steady growth from some 2059000 in 2014 to 2252000 in 2020.

So if you feel you have the necessary skills and attributes this might well be the right career for you.


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