Careers - the best move to make?

Hi all, happy weekend!

I'll try and keep this brief but wondered if anyone else had recently been through the same ordeal!

I am aiming to transition into the FS world and ultimately desire to be in a client-facing advisor role with a local or non-national more holistic practice (at least, the longer term aim). Currently a secondary school teacher and so wanted to make a real start of this prior to the next academic year beginning.

I am currently deep in revision for the R01, R02 and R03 which I sandwiched rather close together with the idea that using the extra time in the day from lockdown that I could get the back of the Level 4 broken.

In a nutshell, my question is:

Do I finish the entire Level 4 Diploma before approaching firms, or;

Do I do my best to get a couple under my belt before approaching firms.

Both approaches will of course be different, but would I be better in this current climate to be able to have done the Level 4 all off my own back and then aim to go straight into a shadowing, junior advisor role...or do I go a part of the way with a few exams done and try to start of in an admin or paraplanning role while getting the remainder of the exams finished?

I have looked into academies at the national firms but the costs are either too high, the employment isn't guaranteed, nor in some instances is there a salary - so I think that route is not for me.

Any advice, experiences and information is very welcome and appareciated.

Many thanks in advance,



  • Hi Jack

    I must say, that's a bit of a change from teaching!

    Firstly, well done for studying for those exams, and the best of luck for when you take them. In my opinion, if you want to move sooner rather than later, it would be better to pass the exams you're studying for, and make a start on the next and approach companies at that point. They will appreciate that you have self-funded to this point, and the fact that you have the passes under your belt will demonstrate that you are serious about your career change. Obviously you will also need to have a compelling reason for wanting to do this, and I guess you have already given this plenty of thought.

    While you are approaching firms, keep up with the studying, and if you happen to gain the Diploma during this time, so much the better. If you want to progress further, there is always the Advanced Diploma, and there are many firms who would be happy to pay for you to take exams.

    Being an administrator, paraplanner or an adviser all have very different skillsets, so while you will gain an understanding of financial services in a back office role, it won't prepare you for a customer facing role (although to me, facing a class of unruly, hormonal teenagers is actually quite a terrifying thought!!!).

    Before I moved into my current role, I was employed as an in-house paraplanner. I was made redundant, but my employer at the time offered me a role as an adviser. However, this would have meant moving from an employed position to self-employed, and this is true of much of the rest of the IFA job market; most of the positions will be self-employed, so you need to be pretty driven and have plenty of resources (savings) to fall back on while you build a client bank. You may be lucky to find an employed role, and for that I would suggest talking to a few employment agencies who specialise in financial services positions - there are loads of them around, so it's a case of take your pick!

    I hope some of this is helpful, but do feel free to ask any more questions.

    Good luck!

  • Hi Jack,

    I would say start communicating with firms no. You may find that they will pay for your exams (or refund money on successful completion).

    I started as a paraplanner straight out of banking with no exams under my belt and now I have my Diploma (all paid for by my first employer) and will be working my way to Chartered.

  • @Andy_Schleider @rwooffatst, many thanks for your help!

    There doesn't seem to be a linear path of progression any more, every one I have spoken to has said the same and it really ultimately comes down to choice of approach.

    I guess as well some firms may be waiting for the dust to settle on recent events before taking on any more staff or training new ones.

    Though I would like to get into a client-facing role as soon as possible, I am prepared for the fact that I may have to get my hands dirty with other roles in the meantime and am very happy to learn all walks of the industry as this will give me a more rounded understanding of it all.

    My main concern though, is whether or not a firm may first want to see some experience at a firm or in the industry in general, and that turning up with a full Level 4 Diploma but with no experience may not actually be a wise move? It seems to be a very tough, many-answer scenario!

  • Hi!

    My view would be to get in touch with some firms now and start making contacts. Whilst this is unlikely to result in immediate opportunities under the current 'covid' situation, making yourself known to local IFAs can only be a good thing.

    If I were interviewing you for a position, I would want to know what motivated the career change and what you've done to find out about the reality of financial planning 'in practice'. So, for example, the fact that you have obviously found the Paraplanners Assembly and also any time you've spent shadowing/talking to IFAs. So you might want to think about seeing if you can gain some experience in this way over the summer.


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