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The job route to becoming an IFA Adviser or Paraplanner

December 8, 2017

Are you at the beginning of your financial services career and want a job as an independent financial adviser or IFA. What qualifications and route do you take and how do you get from A to B successfully?

Finance, Business and Economic graduates leave University without guidance on the different routes into the industry. They may study through a specific examination body to gain Level 4 status, but not always in their desired field, and have to find a way to bridge the gap in order to give full financial advice or specific investment advice.

Other candidates who are looking to get into the industry self-fund their exams and may look for the cheapest and easiest route to gaining the level 4 diploma in financial planning, but may come up against a stumbling block with potential employers for having taken a less desirable exam route.

Most employers will not pay more for candidates who have taken it upon themselves to gain qualifications without experience, opting for candidates with experience instead.  With this in mind, are candidates better off finding an entry level role in a company that offers full exam support in-line with the company’s preferred examination board?

What entry level role should you take? And, what should be your key considerations?

We often work on two different types of entry level positions – Jobs as a Trainee Financial Adviser or Administrator within a financial services firm.

Starting in an Administrator position within a Financial Services job environment will generally be a long- term strategy to get where you want. To be credible for future employers you will need to spend a minimum of two years within the role or with the company to show commitment to your chosen profession, employer and training and development.  If the employer is helping to fund your study and qualifications towards gaining the Level 4 Diploma, its’ important to assess the type of company that you will be employed by and what the qualification will allow you to do once achieved. This could have a bearing on your next move internally or externally, for example, we often have clients that will not consider someone with the level 4 Investment advice diploma for a paraplanner or Financial Adviser role.

Most administrators would see it as a natural step to move into a paraplanner role to support financial planners before stepping into a financial planner role themselves. This allows’ them to get closer to the financial planning process, carry out analysis, make recommendations and potentially gain exposure to the client. Dealing with real life client situations allows’ them to practice their knowledge and gain experience. A lot of employers may encourage the Paraplanner to take further qualifications working towards becoming a Chartered Financial Adviser. The career route could take 4 -5 years before the opportunity to give advice arises.

The entry level Trainee Adviser role is often open to Graduates with a relevant degree (Finance/Economics/ Business) who are looking to get into the industry and develop into an Adviser. From an early point, the trainee adviser will shadow and assist a Financial Adviser whilst gaining the relevant qualifications. The trainee role will develop the soft skills, business development and sales skills required for them to successfully develop a client book and become a Financial Adviser. This is normally a 1-2 year process, and the employer will have a development plan in place to help them transition into an Adviser.

We had an interesting conversation this morning with a client who believes that Advising and Paraplanning are two separate careers and should be treated as such.

The skills and personality required for one is the opposite to what is required for the other and therefore, they are less inclined to take someone on for an adviser role, who is coming directly from a paraplanning role.

An ambitious administrator with the level 4 diploma or someone who has the level 4 diploma with Client Services or Business Development experience from another Industry would be more attractive to them than someone who has developed their skills through the paraplanning route.

Indeed, we agree, a job role as a Paraplanner is now a worthwhile career option and we are glad that it’s being recognised as an important role within the industry. Paraplanner jobs in London are now being paid in the region of £50,000 and across the rest of the UK up to £40,000.

It’s important when thinking about your career to consider your timescales, how long you think you will take to complete exams? At what point in your career you wish to advise? What sort of working hours you want? What working environment you prefer? How much you want to earn?

We can have a discussion with you to assist you with some important decisions and guide you on your career path. We work with a wide range of clients who have different opinions on their ideal candidate and we are confident about making the right match that will suit your career development, working to your timescales and desires.


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