Financial Advisor | Financial Services Career Advisor

Financial Advisors serve a key role in helping people make the most of their financial assets by helping them understand their investment and savings options and creating realistic and appropriate financial strategies.

Being a Financial Advisor involves working with clients to understand their short- and long-term goals, overall lifestyle and level of risk tolerance, in order to provide tailored advice and develop effective financial plans to meet their financial objectives. Financial Advisors always work directly with clients and in some cases, may consult financial planners (technical experts on planning) and work collectively with them to prepare their client’s financial plan. This framework for collaboration tends to depend on an organization’s design/strategy for the Financial Advisor role as well as the experience of the advisor.

The role often requires a strong entrepreneurial spirit as Financial Advisors are required to sell products and acquire new clients. At every stage of a Financial Advisor’s career, developing and maintaining client relationships is a vital part of success in the role.

Work Context for this Role

For more information on the work context for this role, please refer to the PDF document provided at the top right-hand corner of this page.

Areas of Focus

Financial Advisors can work for a variety of organizations and the role may differ significantly across different organizations and segments of the financial services sector. Independent Advisors essentially own their own businesses and operate as agents in a network organization (i.e. a collection of independent business operators). Other professionals can work as employees in financial institutions such as banks, credit unions, investment dealers, insurance companies, wealth management or pension organizations.  Retail bank branches and, more recently, mobile sales forces, are the preferred channels for selling investments.  In light of this trend, financial institutions are placing a strong emphasis on face-to-face financial advisory capabilities and interactions.

Models of Financial Advisory Services

There are typically three types of roles/models for the delivery of financial advice and sale of investment products: the ‘generalist,’ the ‘one-stop’ provider and the ‘expert’ on demand. Specialization typically ascends from the ‘generalist’ to the ‘expert’  model of financial advisory:

1)      Generalist – this type of Financial Advisor has knowledge of a variety of financial products (e.g. mutual funds, credit and loans, mortgages, etc.). Generalists are equally focused on investment, consumer banking and other personal financial needs of their clients. Generalist may or may not have their own portfolio of customers.  In retail bank branches, in most cases, this type of Advisor serves customers directed

to them (e.g. they are the ‘next available’ representative).

2)      One-stop provider – this type of Financial Advisor is responsible for maintaining assigned customer relationships and is expected to have a fulsome picture of their clients’ financial goals.  While they primarily focus on investment sales, they are also expected to be able to provide advice on a variety of banking and financial management services to meet their clients’ needs.

3)      Expert on demand – this type of Financial Advisor does not maintain the client relationship, and is brought in as an expert by the primary relationship manager (e.g. generalist, one-stop provider) to meet clients’ particular/specialized financial advisory or investment needs.

Clients and Products

Depending on the type of organization they work for, Financial Advisors serve a variety of clients such as:

  • Individuals
  • Families
  • Small business owners

Financial Advisors may sell or advise on different types of products depending on the type of financial institution they are affiliated with:

  • Banks– Most Financial Advisor positions are found in banks.  Financial Advisors in these institutions sell a variety of banking products; many are licensed to sell mutual funds (however, in order to be able to sell other securities such as stocks and bonds, Financial Advisors must be appropriately licensed to do so and employed by the securities arm of their bank).  
  • Insurance Companies– Financial Advisors with insurance organizations sell life insurance products associated with a specific insurance company.
  • Wealth Management Firms– Financial Advisors in these organizations are permitted to sell products from multiple companies (e.g. may sell funds from a variety of mutual fund companies) and offer a range of options when advising clients.  Advisors with securities/investment dealers are typically licensed to sell a variety of securities, including stocks and bonds.  Additional licensing requirements must be met to be able to sell derivative products. 

A snapshot of the unique qualifications for this role is provided below. For more comprehensive information on the qualifications and job requirements, you can download the PDF document given under the Printer-Friendly Version section at the top of this page.

Other Training

Further details on licences: 

  • Registered Representative (allows for advising on stocks, bonds, mutual funds)
  • Registered Representative – Mutual Funds Only (allows for advising on mutual funds only)
  • Insurance sales licences – License to sell life insurance (including accident and sickness insurance); license to sell accident and sickness insurance only;  see Life Licensing Qualification Program (LLQP) options 

Category: Advisor

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