Independent financial adviser

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Tim Porter is an independent financial adviser (IFA) and technical director of a company. He helps clients to make the best use of their money.

What are your responsibilities?

When I see a new client, I explain the service we offer and establish what they want. Once I have all the information, I suggest various options for their money to get the best returns for their investments. This can sometimes involve a product such as a pension or investment plan.

I am also responsible for marketing. I have designed and managed the company website, and created a client newsletter and various other marketing campaigns.

What is a normal day like?

I normally get into the office for about 8.30am. I check my emails and post. After that, I might type up some reports for clients we have seen recently. During the day, I will receive a number of phone calls that create extra work. My morning task list always looks completely different by lunchtime.

In the afternoon, I might visit a client or have a meeting with a life assurance company to find out about their new products. I try to finish work by around 5.30pm.

Who do you work with?

I work with my parents who are my fellow directors. We have got a full-time administrator who I work closely with, and we have another six consultants who work from their own home offices. We meet with them regularly to see clients, discuss their recommendations and review progress on their investments.

What qualities do you need?

You need to be very organised to do this job! It is important to be honest when you are dealing with other people's money and operated by the rules and regulations laid down by the finance laws. It's good to be well presented and smart. You need to be confident when you are making recommendations as they may have a massive impact on people's financial lives.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Just about everything involving my job! I like the variety; you never know what the next project or client is going to be like. I like the technical aspects of the job and producing the various options for people to find the best and most beneficial use for their money.

Is the work challenging?

Every day brings new challenges. Keeping up with changes in financial rules and regulations is very challenging. You have to do a lot of reading and training to get up-to-date with your knowledge so that the advice you deliver to the public is the very best.

Tim's route to becoming an independent financial adviser

  • HND in Business and Finance.
  • Topped up the HND to a degree in Business Administration.
  • Worked as a trainee consultant at a life assurance company and passed the Financial Planning certificate.
  • Moved to another life assurance company, selling products to IFAs and worked towards the Advanced Financial Planning certificate.
  • Joined parents' company as an IFA and became technical director.

Tim's tips

  • If you are unsure of something, ask someone.
  • This can be a very complex job at times.
  • This is a relatively small industry so be friendly to everyone you meet as you progress through your career. You never know what they will be doing the next time you meet them!

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Salary of an independent financial adviser

  • Starting salaries are usually between £15,000 and £20,000 for IFAs.
  • Experienced advisers can earn between £30,000 and £40,000.
  • The highest earning advisers can earn £70,000 to £100,000 or more.

How to become an independent financial adviser

  • There are no clear routes into this career. Entry requirements vary from no formal academic qualifications to degrees. Degree subjects like business or finance are an advantage, but not always necessary.
  • While there is no minimum age of entry, in practice you need to demonstrate maturity, an ability to get on with people and have some training or experience in financial-based areas. For school-leavers, the minimum will be passes in business-related subjects and maths to be taken on as a trainee.
  • IFAs must pass the Financial Planning certificate before they can give financial advice. They then have to undergo a period of supervision to achieve 'competent adviser status'. Many employers also require the Advanced Financial Planning certificate.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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