The complete guide to becoming a Financial Advisor

The complete guide to becoming a Financial Advisor
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Financial Advisors help people to manage and plan their current and future finances. Whether that be helping someone plan their retirement or advising you on how to invest and save. When it comes to finances, Financial Advisors have a large breadth of services they can offer advice on. 

Throughout every person’s life, their financial needs and goals grow with them. A person who is looking to purchase their first home, for example, will be thinking about mortgages and life insurance. Someone who is growing older may be thinking about retirement plans and pensions. A Financial Advisor can help with all of these things by devising a detailed financial plan. Financial Advisors look at each of their individual clients’ finances and financial goals and try to align the two. This can involve recommending their clients the best savings accounts, mortgages, insurance services, pensions and even investment advice. A large part of a Financial Advisors’ job is the justifications behind the products they advise. Financial Advisors must be meticulous at explaining their process, in order to explain why they have come to the conclusions that they have, instilling trust in their clients. 

An average list of duties for a Financial Advisor can look like:

  • Liaising with back-office staff 
  • Meet performance and sales targets
  • Providing advice to clients talking through their finances and plans
  • Travel to meet clients 
  • Stay up to date with current trends in the market 
  • Source new business
  • Research financial products and explain them simply and clearly
  • Update clients about their investments
  • Attend business meeting 
  • Create marketing literature 
  • Remain compliant 
  • Nurture leads
  • Develop your career and knowledge
  • Liaise with product providers
  • Produce financial reports
  • Keep up to date with new products and law changes
  • And more!

Of course, you can easily invest in back-office support that may help with some of these duties. 

When thinking of starting a new career journey, it is only natural to consider how much money said career pays. There is potential to earn a very comfortable amount of money as a Financial Advisor. However, there is definitely not a conclusive sum that you can expect to earn. There is a big range in earnings that Financial Advisors take home.

Financial Advisors don’t always earn a salary from an employer. In fact, it is becoming increasingly common for Advisors to be self-employed and earn a commission rather than a salary. Some reports on a Financial Advisor’s average earnings:

Premier Jobs UK

  • £40,000 – £70,000 (plus bonuses)  


  • Senior Financial Advisors that work with an average-wealth client base £60,000 per annum


  • £64,000 – £70,000 per annum


  • £70,000 – £100,000

Total Jobs

  • £64,999.

Financial Advisors typically contractually work between 35 – 40 hours per week, however, this can vary. 

An important part of being a Financial Advisor is building a good relationship and rapport with your clients. Due to this sometimes your work hours may become unsociable because your clients often have busy working schedules. Therefore, it is not uncommon for Financial Advisors to have to work on Saturdays and take appointments in the evenings. 

Being a Financial Advisor, in many ways, is an attractive career. Some of the main positives we recognise are:

  • It is a career that has a high earning potential and is typically well-paid from the start
  • Finances are often the biggest stress in people’s lives, and helping them plan their finances in order could relieve them of this stress. Making your job highly rewarding!
  • There’s also a lot of opportunity. The average Financial Advisor is 57 years old according to St James’s Place meaning many Financial Advisors are approaching retirement leaving opportunities open for the next wave of Financial Advisors to join the industry.
  • Being a Financial Advisor is all about working with people. This means that during your career you will grow a large network of professional connections. 
  • Due to the time and rapport built up with these clients, you will surely make personal connections as well. This can come in handy during the rest of your career and you can utilise this network of people.

The 2 main types of Financial Advisors are Independent Financial Advisors and Restricted Financial Advisors. Both can offer great advice and they are both good career options. The main differences are:

Independent Financial Advisors (or IFAs) have no restrictions on the products and providers they advise their clients with. They will also have no restrictions on the areas of the market they advise on. A Financial Advisors’ goal is to find out their client’s financial goals and strategise to create a plan that includes products that can help them to reach this. 

Benefits of being an Independent Financial Advisor

  • A benefit of being an Independent Advisor is that you have the freedom to give the most personalised advice to a client due to your unrestricted access to the products on the market
  • Another benefit of being an Independent Financial Advisor is that it makes you stand out. It is more common for Advisors to be restricted rather than Independent so this can be a real differentiator for potential clients

Restricted Advisors focus on a selection of products and providers that is limited. However, this does mean they can sometimes access exclusive rates or products due to working closely with this provider. Usually, they will have a small amount of leeway to go off-panel, but the vast majority of their advice must be using a particular range of products. A restricted Financial Advisor also could be an Advisor who only advises on one particular market i.e. investments or pensions. Therefore, they are restricted by proxy. 

Benefits of being a Restricted Financial Advisor 

A Restricted Advisor has a significantly lower amount of due diligence to do when advising products, as most of this will be done by the firm. It makes the Advisors job much simpler in comparison to an Independent Advisor

There are thousands of products on the market, limiting the number of products that an Advisor can allow them more time to focus on other clients and do things like fact finds and writing suitability letters.  

There are pros and cons to becoming either type of Advisor. It is natural to think that becoming an Independent Financial Advisor would be the better option. For some individuals this will be true, some Advisors will thrive on giving advice that isn’t limited to a certain set of products and providers. However, for some, being a Restricted Advisor will make for a less stressful life as having access to the thousands of products and providers on the market is such a broad range. Overall, you can have a successful and fulfilling career in either job role.

Types of Financial Advisor

In the Financial Advisor industry, commonly there will commonly be self-employed and employed jobs. There are positives and negatives to both, and everyone works differently so it is up to you to figure out which type of role would suit you best.  

Advantages employed Financial Advisor roles: 

  • Employed roles offer Advisors a fixed salary, a lot of Advisors will value the stability of a guaranteed income each month
  • You often will service a client bank and/or be supplied with leads, this can make an Advisors life a lot easier as they can grow their network easily and have a good flow of business without having to network themselves
  • Some people thrive with having management over them in a place of work due to the structure it brings

Advantages of self-employed Financial Advisor roles:

  • You get to be your own boss and structure your days, this is the type of freedom that you can only get from a self-employed position
  • There are no limits on how much a self-employed Advisor can earn
  • Being self-employed often means they receive a larger proportion of the income they produce, a hardworking and motivated Advisor typically has a larger earning potential being self-employed than being employed
  • You can build up your client bank which you can pass on or sell at the end of your career 
  • Usually, self-employed Advisors will have to be fairly (but not completely) self-sufficient in finding their clients and leads. Financial Advisors often offer lifetime advice though, so having repeat clients will minimise the severity of the impact this has

The disadvantages of employed Financial Advisor roles: 

  • As an employed Advisor, there will be limitations to how much money you can make. Your commission rates are lower and therefore your earning potential is definitely restricted when compared to a self-employed Advisor
  • When you are employed, you will likely not have a client bank that you can sell when you retire 
  • As with all employed jobs, there is a potential to be micromanaged. The freedom of planning your own days and working within your own time schedule

The disadvantages of self-employed Financial Advisor roles:

  • The lack of financial stability is a big disadvantage of a self-employed Advisor role. Self-employed Advisors rely on just their commission earnings, so if they have a month where they can’t work or business isn’t very good, their earnings will be jeopardised  
  • Self-employed Advisors also have to be extremely self-motivated as they don’t have any structure. They need to be organised and time managed at all times otherwise risk losing out on business 
  • When you are self-employed, you may not have access to back office staff and may have to pay a salary or monthly fee to have access to this resource – otherwise, your admin duties will quickly stack up!

When choosing which is best for you, you should consider what environment you work best in. Do you thrive on the structure, or do you prefer to decide how to do things yourself? 

You should also consider what you place more value on, a high commission rate or a consistent salary. Self-Employed Advisors also need a large amount of self-motivation to succeed.

Not everyone has this so it’s definitely something to think of before making a decision.  We also advise that you consult an expert who can help you discuss your options and decide which route is best for you. We have multiple experts whom you can call and have a free no pressure chat with, contact us today.

To become a Financial Advisor you will have to have an FCA-recognised qualification in order to become authorised. The 2 main recognised professional bodies that award such qualifications are the LIBF and the CII

DipPFS – Diploma in Financial Planning (CII)

Key facts for DipPFS: 

  • 100 credit or 140 credit option 
  • There is flexibility in the modules you pick
  • If you complete the DipPFS you will have a designation, this designation can show employers and clients alike that you are dedicated to your career and work to a prestigious standard
  • You will receive EFA designation, through the Chartered Institutes mutual recognition agreement with the European Financial Planning Association
  • You will be able to claim discounts on a range of studying and learning tools
  • You will be granted access to pertinent market information through their extensive library of financial planning publications, reports and documents
  • Membership to a PFS region and CII local institute providing local CPD events, training and networking opportunities
  • You can enter a CPD scheme after completion of the DipPFS to keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date
  • As a member, you will get market news and updates from their membership magazine, Personal Finance Professional
  • As a member you will be eligible for their benefits scheme. This is called ‘Perks’ and gives you access to lots of discounts on high street brands and shops 

Read the full guide to DipPFS here

DipFA – Diploma for Financial Advisors (LIBF) 

Key facts for DipPFS: 

  • The LIBF Diploma is more holistic, some would argue that it gives a more realistic view to aspiring Advisors 
  • The LIBF recommend students dedicate 400 hours of study time (average study time is 9 months)
  • Two units, Unit 1: Financial Services, Regulation and Ethics (FSRE) and Unit 2: Advanced Financial Advice (AFA)
  • Mixture of multiple-choice exam and coursework
  • The LIBF Diploma will cost you £1,160 with tutor support or £1,050 without tutor support, nearly half of the DipPFS 
  • For some the idea of sitting 6 exams will be too tedious, making the LIBF diploma a better option

Read the full guide to DipFA here

Should I take DipFA or DipPFS to become a Financial Advisor?

Both these diplomas are brilliant choices for those looking to have a prosperous career in Financial Advice. Although there are definitely differences between them, overall, both qualifications can be great options for an aspiring Financial Advisor it is just up to the individual to decide which Diploma is the best option for them. 

Read the full comparison between the qualifications here

DipFA or DipPFS

A Financial Advisor’s job is largely about liaising with clients. You are also trusted to give sound advice on people’s livelihood which is a large responsibility, so it is vital that every Financial Advisor possess the correct qualities. Some valuable qualities for a Financial Advisor to have are:

Analytical thinking: A large proportion of your job as a Financial Advisor will be benefit if you are a strong analytical thinker. As a Financial Advisor you need to aim to make your client’s financial goals a reality. This won’t always be as simple as you desire and it is important that you are able to consider factors like market trends and optimum investment return.

Relationship-focused: As a Financial Advisor, one of the key components to doing your job successfully will be building and maintaining relationships with your clients. Many of your potential clients will be searching for prolonged financial advice so it is important for you to place value on the client relationships you encounter.

Conscientious: A Financial Advisor can not make impulsive decisions. Your clients will be placing a large amount of trust in you, and that shouldn’t be taken advantage of. Staying conscience helps maintain a brilliant standard of Advisory.

There are a multitude of other skills that would benefit an aspiring Financial Advisors career, looking introspectively is really important here. Some people will have these traits naturally, but if you don’t, there are many ways you can build upon these skills.

The more problem-solving tasks you complete, the stronger your analytical thinking will become. When you are in your current role or just in day-to-day life you will encounter things that go wrong. Instead of thinking up one solution, think of as many as you can, this will teach you to think more analytically. You should make a note of these situations too as in your future Financial Advisor interviews you will surely be asked.

To build on your ability to form great professional relationships, put yourself In situations where there are lots of new people. Strike up conversations where you can and this will help you to become more personable.

Being conscientious comes hand in hand with being passionate. If you are really determined to succeed in an Advisor position then being thorough should come naturally. It also helps to recognise how much trust Advisors clients put in them as finances are such an important part of life.

Due to the seriousness of the profession, it can take many years for people to reach the occupation of Financial Advisor. In fact, in the UK the average age of a Financial Advisor in the UK is 57 according to St James Place 

Option 1 – Career progression

The majority of Advisors will work their way up to an Advisory job but will get started in Administration. Then typically, once you have built up enough experience in a Financial Planning Administrator job you will progress into a Paraplanner position. Typically, after being a Paraplanner for a while, is when we see people starting to transition into Advisory positions. These Advisory positions will typically be Trainee roles at first. Only then will you have the experience that is required for most Financial Advisor roles.

Option 2 – Trainee Financial Advisor 

Of course, this is not the path that every Advisor will take. Some Trainee Financial Advisor jobs will give opportunities for younger less experienced people, depending on their ambition and educational achievements. These opportunities are usually quite rare and very popular.

Option 3 – Transitioning into Financial Advice

Some people end up in Financial Advisor roles after being on the Mortgage side of financial services. Typically a Mortgage Advisor will work towards this role from a Mortgage Administrator position. However, sometimes companies looking to take on Financial Advisors will take on those who previously worked in the mortgage sector. This is often attractive to previous Mortgage Advisors who want a career change.

Of course, there are more options than the above three, these are just the most common ways we see on a day-to-day basis.

Before starting your career journey as a Financial Advisor, it is important you are aware of what makes a great CV. As the Financial Services industry is such a professional industry – it is important that your CV is up to scratch.

What should a Financial Advisor’s CV contain? 

As an aspiring Financial Advisor, getting your CV correct is very important as an employer will decide within seconds from your CV whether you are worth their time. Your CV needs to be truthful yet enticing to a current employer, especially as a Trainee where you won’t have any existing experience. 

Financial Advisor CV


As a Financial Advisor, arguably the most pertinent part of your CV is your experience. The Financial Services industry, and Advisors advise on matters that could have devastating effects if done wrong. Employers typically see it as the more experienced an Advisor, the more trustworthy and knowledgeable they will be perceived. Earlier on in this blog, we covered the career pathways that can lead you into Financial Advisory, so any experience that is relevant will benefit! Jobs that show you can be trusted, have good people skills and are good with numbers will all make great editions to your Financial Advisor CV. If you’re a Trainee, focusing on the specific skills and traits that would make you good at the role is key  

Other Important aspects for your Financial Advisor CV 

Besides experience there are definitely other ways to wow an employer or firm, using your CV. Some of these are as follows: 

  • Production – The Financial Advice industry is a revenue-driven one. Therefore, the more revenue you can bring as an Advisor, the more employable and desired you will become
  • Specialism – An Advisor who specialises in an area of financial advice (for example pensions) will be a lot more attractive to firms than other more holistic candidates. This is because specialism displays a deeper breadth of knowledge that could be extremely valuable to a company  
  • Values – It’s important to showcase your values on your Financial Advisor CV. Some firms are value-driven and having aligning values could land you a position! 

For more advice check out our COMPLETE guide to writing a fantastic Financial Services CV

Before your illustrious Financial Advisor career starts, it is important to know how to ace the interview. The most common style of interview you will encounter as an aspiring Financial Advisor is competency-based interviews. Below are some of our guidance, tips and advice to help you excel in your interview.

How long are Financial Advisor interviews?

Most competency-based interviews will last around 1 hour. This can massively vary and can depend on how well the interview has gone. Other factors that can affect the time of the interview however are how many stages the company has in the recruitment process and how many candidates are interviewing for the role.

Check out our previous Guide to Financial Services competency-based interviews for more information  

Financial Advisor core competencies 

  • Detail orientation: A helpful competency that many Financial Advisors share is detail orientation. It is important for Advisors to listen to their client’s requests and advise them accordingly. To do so successfully they need to keep in mind multiple different products, figures, market trends etc
  • People skills: Client relationship skills are pertinent to an advisory role as your job will be customer based. As an Advisor, your clients place a lot of trust in you so your relationships with them are vital
  • Decisiveness: Decision-making is a brilliant competency for an Advisor to have. Advisors need to be confident in the advice they give to their clients and being able to make decisions even whilst in a high-pressure job, will certainly benefit you 

How do I identify my personal core competencies for Financial Advice?

In conjunction with some general Financial Advisor core competencies, it is a good idea to quiz yourself to help you work out your personal competencies:

Think back to what you were doing previously and how that could help you here:

  • How would others describe you?
  • What are you really good at?
  • Why are you good at those things?
  • What are some of your biggest achievements?
  • What was required from you to achieve these?

Once you land that first role as a Financial Advisor or Trainee Financial Advisor you can then set about moving up the ranks! The typical progression if you are in an employed role looks like:

  1. Administrator 
  2. Paraplanner 
  3. Trainee Financial Advisor
  4. Financial Advisor
  5. Senior Financial Advisor
  6. Chartered Financial Advisor
  7. Head of Financial Advisors 

In the coming months, we’ll be looking to expand our content to cover how to become a Chartered Financial Advisor and what that entails – so keep your eyes peeled. Typically, career progression means more responsibility and more responsibility means more pay!

We have covered Trainee Financial Advisor and Financial Advisor roles already in this blog so just to add an additional layer of detail for the following roles:

  • Senior Financial Advisors = Typically have 5+ years of experience as a Financial Advisor and are at the point where they can mentor other Financial Advisors in the team and potentially train up new Trainees. They are also recognised and sought after by clients for their experience and as such can potentially charge more for their services
  • Chartered Financial Advisors = Can typically provide advice on more technical and nuanced matters due to their additional qualifications and a vast array of experience. As well as undertaking the same duties as those below them, Chartered Financial Advisors usually have a specialist niche that they lean towards
  • Head of Financial Advisors = Typically a Head of Financial Advisors would have done every other role at one point in their career and is now at the point where they can manage, lead and develop a team. Usually, they will have 10 to 15+ years in the industry and have seen most of what there is to see, well placing them to lead others

In this blog, we covered a large spectrum of topics that will all help you in your pursuit of a career as a Financial Advisor. These include: 

  • Table of contents:
  • What do Financial Advisors do?
  • How much does a Financial Advisor earn?
  • How long do Financial Advisors work?
  • The benefits of being a Financial Advisor
  • Types of Financial Advisors
  • Employed VS Self-Employed: Which is better for a Financial Advisor? 
  • What qualifications do I need to become a Financial Advisor?
  • Desirable Qualities of a Financial Advisor
  • Different ways you can become a Financial Advisor:  
  • How to write a CV for a Financial Advisor 
  • Financial Advisors interviews
  • Financial Advisor career progression 

It can always help to talk to a professional, who could potentially grant you with even more information on how best to achieve a career as a Financial Advisor. Call us now for a free no pressure chat, with one of our experts who can tell you all things Financial Services: