How To Become a Financial Adviser

Working as a financial adviser can be highly rewarding, especially if you like the idea of helping other people manage their finances so they get to live a better life. 

As with any career plan, if you are considering becoming a financial adviser you’ve probably got all sorts of questions about what the job entails and how to get started. After all, it’s a big step and if you get things wrong you could waste a lot of time and money.

To help you avoid the pitfalls and to give you all the information you need to decide if it’s right for you, we’ve put together this list of FAQs to provide answers to some of the most common questions that people have asked us when considering a career as a financial adviser.

We’ve also created a free downloadable e-book with 12 pages packed full of helpful information to get you started.

5 things everyone should know before becoming a financial adviser



Our top five FAQs about becoming a financial adviser.

1) How do I become a financial adviser?

To become a financial adviser, one of the first things you will need is an RQF level 4 qualification recognised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which is the body that regulates financial services in the UK.

You’ll also need to achieve competent advisor status (CAS). This requires you to pass assessments on all aspects of advising retail clients (your ‘average’ person).

These assessments will cover gathering initial client information (factfinding), analysing the info, making recommendations, and putting financial plans into place.

You cannot become a financial adviser without level 4 and CAS status.

2) I have no financial services experience. Does that matter?

Good financial advice is always in demand. And the financial services industry needs to attract new blood as the current average adviser age is 55.

Financial advice companies – from smaller businesses with one or two advisers, through to large FTSE 100 firms – are looking to develop the financial advisers of the future.

What about someone just starting their career?
Being fresh into the working world doesn’t mean you can’t bring a lot to the role of financial adviser. As long as you have, or can gain, the right knowledge, skills and habits, then being youthful is not a barrier to success.

Does it matter if you are a bit older when applying?
The fact that this may not be your first rodeo or you have been around the block a few times is likely to be seen as an advantage, but the old adage that ‘people buy people’ is just as true for the financial services industry.

So, previous life experience can be major plus but actual financial services experience is not essential.

3) What qualifications do I need to become a financial adviser?

As already mentioned, you will need an RQF level 4 qualification recognised by the FCA. There are a variety of routes to obtain this and several different examining bodies you can choose from.

One of the most well-known is the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) whose Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning is the qualifications base for many major company academies. There are other bodies available such as the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments (CISI) and the London Institute for Banking and Finance (LIBF).

There are pros and cons to each level 4 offering from the different examining bodies, and their qualification routes aren’t all exactly the same. Make sure you download this free guide, and we will tell you more about the different routes on offer .

4) How can I find a company to take me on, especially if I have no financial services experience?

There are quite a few companies with their own internal training academy who are actively looking for quality candidates to come on board.

One of the best ways to make yourself more appealing to such a company is to start your own, self-funded exam journey before you even approach them. If you are using the CII route, start studying for and aim to pass the R01 Financial Services, Regulation and Compliance paper.

This is the exam that includes the core information about how financial service providers and regulators operate. It’s commonly one of the CII units companies are looking for candidates to have passed off their own bat, before considering accepting them onto their Academies.

This will show a prospective firm that you have the drive, motivation and academic ability to work on your own initiative.

This is important. If a firm takes you on, they could be looking at spending up to £70,000 to get you trained up to give financial advice. So, you need to do all you can to show that you deserve such an investment.

5) How long does it take to become a qualified financial adviser?

This is always a difficult question for BTS to answer. How long is a piece of string?

Timescales really depend on what else you are doing in addition to your study. If you are approaching this on a full time basis, where study is your only or main focus, passing your level 4 qualifications could be achieved in three to four months.

If you are working as well as studying however, then 12-18 months (or longer) is more realistic.

It’s worth pointing out that being a good financial adviser is not all about the qualifications. It will take longer to gain experience in doing the job. Skills such as building rapport, effective fact finding, and overcoming client objections can take months of practice to hone.

About BTS

BTS is a learning and development company that specialises in financial services exam support. BTS has 20 years’ experience in the financial services industry, and an even more impressive 70 years combined experience in learning and development.


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