Independent financial advisers (IFAs) provide individuals and businesses with support on a wide range of financial matters.
Entry qualifications for IFAs vary, although employers often seek applicants with at least two A levels and five GCSEs. Personal qualities, such as good communication skills, are often considered to be just as important as qualifications. It may be possible for prospective IFAs to secure an Advanced Apprenticeship in Advising on Financial Products. Alternatively, it is possible to enter into an administrative role in a company that employs IFAs before training to become an IFA.
New recruits receive training from experienced IFAs and gain theoretical knowledge through studying for a professional qualification, such as a Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) Certificate in Financial Planning. The Institute of Financial Planning (IFP) also offers a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) licence. Before they can provide guidance to clients, newly appointed IFAs must pass an exam from a professional body, such as the Institute of Financial Services.
Qualified IFAs are currently in high demand. Employment opportunities can be found in insurance companies, investment firms, estate agents, banks, retailers and building societies. Many IFAs are registered as self-employed, but have contractual arrangements with companies. Vacancies for IFAs tend to be advertised through specialist publications and financial recruitment agencies.
Starting salaries for trained IFAs are between £15,000 and £25,000 a year. Experienced staff may be able to move into supervisory or management positions.