Joining the IFA industry
As the years have rolled on the opportunities for individuals wishing to join the financial services industry have seemingly diminished. With life offices contracting and their direct salesforces all but gone, some of the traditional avenues have been blocked for those seeking a position within the industry.
For a time the banks seemed to fill that void, taking on staff with no previous experience, helping them study for their qualifications and providing on the job training. Many of today’s banking advisers started off at a more junior level with a bank or building society. However the well publicised difficulties in this market has diminished the number of roles available and left the sector with a stigma it had not previously suffered from.
So what of the IFA arena?
We are often approached by people from different walks of life asking how they can secure IFA jobs and the answer has always been the same; with much difficulty. Trainee IFA jobs are never particularly prevalent, even less so at present, so the most obvious and indeed sensible route is to firstly secure an administrator job. This gives a great grounding to the industry where individuals are tasked with liaising with product providers, processing new business, handling client queries and preparing paperwork for the IFAs. It is also the perfect environment for the attainment of the Certificate in Financial Planning, a prerequisite exam for those looking to secure IFA jobs or paraplanning jobs in the future.
However there are difficulties with such a path as obviously a high proportion of administrator jobs require applicants with previous experience. Where they don’t salaries are reflective of this which can be an issue for someone looking to change careers, as well as coming to terms with taking up a more junior position.
From here those able to build up their technical knowledge and work in a very efficient manner will often have the opportunity of taking up a role as a paraplanner. Paraplanner jobs nearly always require prior experience so much as with IFA jobs it is extremely difficult for non-industry candidates to secure such a position. Being a paraplanner is very challenging, requiring advanced technical knowledge and the ability to come up with solutions to any particular clients’ financial needs. In essence it is very much like the role of the IFA without the range of client contact so provides a great launch pad for those wishing to become financial advisers themselves.
This process though is not a quick one as it takes time to pass the exams that are required to be a consultant. With 2012 and the RDR fast approaching these requirements are becoming even more stringent so those joining the industry are best served by gaining their qualifications as quickly as possible.
Therefore it is vital that when candidates are looking to become part of financial services they have thought clearly about the challenges they will face and the huge level of commitment required, especially those wishing to become an adviser. There are major sacrifices to be made, in particular in relation to salaries available for junior members of staff not to mention the time constraints of ongoing professional study.
So for those wishing to pursue this career be prepared for the hard work and a rewarding career awaits.