Financial Advisor 2B: The Path to Charterer Status

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Obtaining a degree is an exciting step, but once it is achieved, advisors may decide to continue their professional development to charter status and beyond. Although higher qualifications are not a formal requirement, they are encouraged within the profession.

Even so, early career counselors may wonder what they stand to gain from pursuing further education. In short, is becoming chartered worth it and when should advisors do it?

Business critical

Simply put, charterer status offers more options. Some consulting firms are licensed by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), which means that at least half of their advisers must hold the Chartered Financial Planner designation. This affects their recruitment policies.

Bournemouth-based consultancy Strategic Solutions has been licensed for almost a decade. Its chief executive, Kevin Forbes, sees the hiring of certified financial planners as “business critical.”

He says, “For us, the role is not ‘financial planner’, it’s ‘certified financial planner’. We are recruiting people for this role.

Being chartered has value in particular markets, such as long-term care and pension transfers

Advisors can only become licensed with ICN after they have completed their advanced financial planning degree and have at least five years of experience in financial services. Forbes says this requirement can be difficult, but like everything from internships to previous roles in financial services, it doesn’t usually pose a problem.

St James’s Place professional development director Edward Grant says not all clients need to see a certified financial planner and most advisers are not certified. However, he believes that the Chartered Person status has value and is useful for those who wish to work in more complex consulting areas.

“The proportion of certified counselors is only 25%,” says Grant.

“But we know from our research that certified counselors are two to two and a half times more productive than unlicensed counselors. And being chartered has value in some markets, like long-term care and pension transfers. “

Knowledge and Confidence

Becoming chartered means applying the knowledge acquired at the diploma level, thereby increasing the confidence of advisers. This can be useful for younger counselors who may be trying to build a professional relationship or dealing with many older clients who do not take them seriously initially.

“The problem with being a youngster in financial services is credibility,” says Forbes. “If you are a 21 or 22 year old counselor caring for the elderly, you have to be confident. Taking your exams gives you credibility and shows clients your commitment to the profession.

Different certification bodies lend themselves to particular learning styles

Active Financial Planners Certified Financial Planner Andrew Gilmore says the knowledge and confidence that comes with becoming certified is important.

“It’s always good to be as highly skilled as possible, and financial services is one area where you need to be at that kind of level,” he says. “We expect new entrants to have this motivation. We don’t necessarily expect them to be chartered, but the option is there.

Planning the trip

Higher professional qualifications are available through CII, the London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF) and the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI). The CISI focuses on Certified Level 7 Financial Planner status, while the CII and LIBF offer Chartered Status. CII’s Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning includes a core unit on the Financial Planning Process – AF5 – and a few optional units that are assessed through written exams or courses.

The LIBF Level 6 Diploma in Financial Advice is assessed through a mixture of courses and exams, and applicants must pass four units. Tax, Trusts and Tax Compliance, Investment Management and Retirement Transfers are mandatory units, allowing applicants to choose the Level 4 unit for long-term care and future life planning or a specialized unit.

It is always good to be as highly qualified as possible

Advisors choosing between certification bodies and specific units should consider the type of client they wish to work with.

Some consulting firms favor a specific awarding body for a variety of reasons, but others, like Succession Wealth, have no preference.

“What I like about Succession is that I can take the exams with any organization,” explains Jake Bernardi, the firm’s financial planner. “Different bodies lend themselves to particular learning styles.”

Bernardi is studying to become accredited and understands how counselors may wish to take a break from exams after level 4, before taking accredited exams.

“After level 4 there’s an element of relief in having time to do what you want and focus on the day job,” he says. “There is no rush to get a charter. However, when you are preparing for the exams, getting out and going back to school is not easy.

Bernardi’s approach is to take a short break after exams after Level 4 and then focus on Level 6 units in areas he wants to specialize in, such as Pensions and Retirement.

Certified counselors are two to two and a half times more productive than unlicensed counselors

At Strategic Solutions, the approach is less conventional. Instead of taking the Level 4 diploma and then studying the Level 6 units, cabinet advisers work on both qualifications at the same time, performing units grouped according to subject matter.

“People take the investment exams together and the tax and fiduciary exams together,” says Forbes. “We’ve been successful in this area and that means people can be chartered on the same day they qualify. “

Find out more about the 2B financial advisor: The essential resource for aspiring advisors and those looking to help them on their journey

About Kristina McManus

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