What does a financial planning career path look like?

By Steph Mumford

In the intricate landscape of personal finance, advisers, and the teams that support them, serve as the guiding stars, helping individuals and families chart a course towards their financial goals. A career in financial planning is deeply fulfilling, and it empowers you to make a significant impact on people’s lives.

From understanding why someone would choose this profession to the various job opportunities, and finally carving out a successful career path, we’ll take you on a journey through financial planning.

Why become a financial planner

At the core of financial planning lies the opportunity to change lives for the better. Through offering expert advice and creating personalised financial strategies, those pursuing this profession help individuals and families achieve financial wellness. This profession has the ability to empower you to make a tangible difference in people’s lives, from impactful investments to planning for a comfortable retirement. 

A financial planning career also offers intellectual challenge and diversity; it’s a dynamic field that complements numerous skill sets. If you enjoy problem-solving, and working with numbers, whilst also understanding the intricacies of human behaviour, this career offers a unique blend of intellectual challenges.

Before you become a financial planner

Before embarking on a career in financial planning, it’s essential to have a solid educational foundation. While there is no specific degree required, most financial planners have at least a bachelor’s degree in finance, economics, business, or a related field. This educational background provides a strong base of financial knowledge.

In addition to this, gaining practical experience is crucial to your career development. Seek internships or entry-level positions in financial planning firms, banks, or other financial institutions to build a foundation of real-world knowledge and skills. This hands-on experience will be invaluable as you progress in your career.

To practice as a financial planner, you’ll need to obtain relevant professional qualifications. The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) offer widely recognised certifications. The most common certifications include:

Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning (DipPFS): This is a comprehensive qualification covering various aspects of financial planning, including taxation, investments, retirement planning, and insurance.

Chartered Financial Planner (ChFP): Achieving Chartered status is a significant milestone in a financial planning career, demonstrating a high level of expertise and professionalism.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP): This globally recognised qualification is offered by the CISI and covers a wide range of financial planning topics.

Personal Finance Society (PFS) Membership: Joining the PFS and working towards its qualifications is another pathway to becoming a financial planner.

Those looking to pursue a career in financial planning need to be aware of the strict regulatory standards in place to protect clients’ interests. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) oversees the financial services industry and sets the regulatory framework.

Different financial planning jobs

The world of financial planning offers a variety of job roles and the opportunity to specialise. Common positions within this field include:

Financial Planning Assistant 

The primary role of a Financial Planning Assistant is to assist Financial Planners and advisers in delivering high-quality financial services to clients while ensuring that all administrative aspects run smoothly. Examples of their duties include the preparation of Annual Planning Meetings, and assisting with producing relevant documentation, such as valuations, reports, illustrations, letters, application forms and other documents.

Trainee Financial Planner/Paraplanner

This role applies to those who have either progressed from being a Financial Planning Assistant, or who have entered a graduate scheme. It is anticipated that at this stage you will have obtained your Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning, and combined with supporting the administration of financial planning, trainees will become more involved in client meetings and contribute to financial reports.

Financial Planner/Paraplanner

This role works closely with advisers to create comprehensive and bespoke financial plans that align with client’s goals and aspirations. At this stage, you will be expected to conduct thorough analysis, prepare detailed reports, and provide technical support. It is anticipated that you will be actively involved in client meetings and be intrinsic in fostering relationships with clients.

Senior Financial Planner/Paraplanner

This role continues to work closely with advisers, yet, at this stage, you will have accumulated a substantial amount of practical experience and expertise, along with a raft of qualifications, and these play a crucial role in providing complex financial advice and guidance to clients. A typical trajectory for Senior Financial Planners/Paraplanners is to begin to manage and lead on their own client book.

Financial Adviser

Financial advisers work directly with clients to assess their financial situations, develop customised financial plans, and provide ongoing advice. They help clients with investment decisions, retirement planning, tax optimisation, and more. To advise clients, you will need to be a Certified Individual, having achieved Chartered/Certified Financial Planner status.

More financial planning jobs

The variety of roles available within this field is endless, and it very much depends on the type of firm you are looking to join. Additional roles to look out for include: 

  • Tax Planner
  • Wealth Manager
  • Compliance Officer
  • Investment Manager

Take a look at our current financial planning jobs here

Carving out your career path

plan your career path strategically. Here are steps to help you carve out a successful financial planning career: 

Gain Experience: Start your career by working under a more experienced financial planner or within a financial planning firm. This will provide you with mentorship and practical exposure.

Pursue Advanced Qualifications: Consider obtaining advanced qualifications like the Chartered Financial Planner (ChFP) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation to enhance your expertise and credibility.

Specialise: Identify areas of financial planning that interest you the most and consider specialising in them. This could be retirement planning, estate planning, or investment management.

Continual Learning: Stay updated with industry trends, regulations, and financial products. Attend workshops, seminars, and conferences to broaden your knowledge. 

Ethical Practice: Always prioritise ethical and client-centric practices. Maintaining trust and integrity is paramount in this profession. 

Networking: Build and maintain a strong professional network. Attend industry events and join financial planning associations to connect with peers and potential clients.

Compliance and Regulatory Changes: Stay updated with regulatory changes and ensure your practice complies with all legal requirements.

Seek Feedback: Encourage feedback from clients to continuously improve your services. Client satisfaction is essential for long-term success. 

A career in financial planning in the UK offers an exciting and rewarding journey for those who are passionate about helping others achieve their financial goals. By understanding the motivations, educational requirements, and strategic steps needed to succeed in this profession, you can embark on a path that leads to personal and professional fulfilment. As a financial planner, you have the opportunity to not only build a prosperous career, but also make a meaningful impact on the financial well-being of individuals and families.

What does a typical financial planning career path look like?
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This article is distributed for educational purposes and should not be considered investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy, or investment product.