You already know that all financial advisers must hold an industry-recognised qualification as set out by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) at a minimum of Level 4 in order to work as a financial adviser. This is broadly equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate course, and recognised qualifications include a CII (Chartered Insurance Institute) Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning Level 4, a CISI (Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment) Investment Advice Diploma at Level 4, or an IFS Diploma for Financial Advisers and Professional Certificate in Banking Level 4.
But what’s next? As experts in financial services recruitment for Chartered advisers, we get asked this all the time. After gaining their Level 4 qualification, many financial advisers decide to work towards becoming Chartered. This is a Level 6 qualification that is the equivalent of a university degree and proves, at a technical level, that they are at the top of their game. So, what is Chartered status and is it worth the workload? We investigate in this blog…
What is Chartered status?
Chartered status is basically a symbol of technical competence. It shows that you are at the forefront of your profession, signifies a public commitment to professional standards, and it also serves as a mark of trust with consumers, employers and business connections alike. A Chartered title can be given to individuals and organisations that meet the strict qualifying criteria.
In order to meet the criteria, you’ll need over five years’ experience and a Level 6 Advanced Diploma. Both the CII and LIBF offer a Level 6 Advanced Diploma (equivalent to an Honours degree) which is widely accepted as the gold standard level of qualification for Financial Advisers and those in related roles – and beyond Level 6, there are also a limited number of Masters level qualifications (Level 7) available.
So, is it worth it?
Absolutely! People will always ask for your qualifications to check that you are legitimate and competent, and also to reassure them that you have the specialist knowledge they need. In fact, recent research by the FCA shows that only 40% of people trust financial advisers. That means it’s really important to build trust where you can – and Chartered status is an unbeatable way to do this.
Whilst hands-on experience dealing with clients is always important, gaining qualifications creates a foundation of valuable knowledge and can instil confidence in your potential clients and future employers. And although obtaining Chartered status is hard work, once you achieve it, you’ll have a place amongst the top professionals in your field.
According to the CII, Chartered status sets you apart in four key ways:
- Differentiation – you will join a prestigious group of members at the forefront of the profession with proven, exceptional capability
- Specialised knowledge – you will deepen and broaden your experience through study towards the Level 6 qualifications
- Acknowledged professionalism – Chartered status provides parity with other professions, reinforcing your credentials
- Public perception – Chartered status is recognised and respected by consumers as a mark of trust and means you will enjoy consumer preference.
How to become Chartered
If you hold a CII Advanced Diploma then it’s likely you already satisfy the requirements to become Chartered. Alternatively, if you hold other CII qualifications, examinations, or equivalent qualifications from other bodies, you might well be on your way to achieving the Advanced Diploma and, in turn, Chartered status.
The route each individual takes to become Chartered is personal to them, but In CII-speak, you will need a total of 290 credits to meet the qualifications required. A minimum of 120 must be at Advanced Diploma level, 40 at Diploma Level or above and the remaining credits at any level. When studying for the Advanced Diploma, you can combine different units to build on prior learning and complement your particular area of work or an area of financial advice you might want to move into, for example, taxation, pensions, or investments.
Things to think about
One of the most important things to think about before embarking on your journey to Chartered status is the amount of time required for studying and passing all the units. The average time varies depending on each route taken, but it will likely be in excess of 1,000 hours – and maybe more depending on the units chosen. In addition, there’s the five years’ relevant work experience to think about too.
Cost is another big thing to think about. From study materials and course books to the exams themselves (typically £153 for non-members), Chartered status doesn’t come cheap. Lastly, remember that a Chartered status is not an easy fix for an ailing career – if you’re thinking of enrolling just to try and jump-start your career, there are other things to consider too, from your skills and experience to your work ethic.
How does a business become Chartered?
If more than 50% of a company’s employees are Chartered, then that business becomes Chartered too. There are a number of benefits to this, from helping to win new business and securing existing business to improving perceptions with other professionals. It also helps with recruitment and retention of staff, because people tend to take pride in working for an organisation that is best in class. In fact, most employees will value working for an employer that encourages and supports professional development.
But that’s not all. CII research has also revealed the value of Chartered status has also increased and has helped 78% of firms attract more potential clients, whilst 70% said it helped them gain new business in 2015.
In conclusion, if you do decide to further your qualifications, remember that these exams are not designed to be easy and you will need to factor in a significant amount of study time. Yes, it’s a big undertaking – but it’s most definitely worth it to stay on top of your game. By becoming Chartered, you can set yourself apart from the competition, build trust, and ultimately win more business.
Want to find out more? For advice on how to maximise your potential and further your career, our expert team are on hand to help. Many of us are ex-financial service professionals ourselves and consider ourselves experts in financial services recruitment for Chartered advisers, which means we know the industry inside out and back to front and can provide real, helpful advice to get you where you want to be.
Ready to take the next step in your career? Our Career MOT will look at everything from salary assessment to work/life balance to look at what you need from your business and career to make the decisions that are right for you. Get in touch with the team to find out more.