Making the right choice on climbing the adviser ranks


Experienced advisers reflecting on their next career move have several options. Some feel ready to set up their own business, some set their sights on becoming a partner or director in the firm they already work for and others choose additional qualifications as a springboard to promotion or a more specialist role. But how do advisers ensure they make the right choice?

Brutal analysis

Dennis & Turnbull director and author of The Startup Coach Carl Reader says advisers wanting to start their own firm need to be brutally honest about their finances, their personal qualities and their motives. “Advisers can be good at what they do but not necessarily good at running a business,” he says.

According to Reader, it is important to know what would set the new proposition apart from others. He says: “Your life goals and business goals also need to tie up. If you want to achieve a turnover of £20m in five years that is only going to be achieved with hard work. You won’t do it while lying on a beach.”

It is also good to create a business plan, including how it will be financed and how that will be paid back, the CV of the business owner and a Swot analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). The financial objectives of the business, including profit and loss projections and balance sheet projections, also need to be addressed.

Directly authorised or appointed representative?

Going directly authorised involves completing an application form and paying the required fee. Most firms will have straightforward applications and fees for these are lower than applications the FCA deems more complex. Directly authorised firms need to meet the regulatory requirements for compliance, put software systems in place and market their services.

Advisers that become appointed representatives of a network pay no FCA application fees but will give their network a share of their income in return for it taking responsibility for compliance and providing other services.


Managing director of network Validpath Kevin Moss says this shared responsibility of advice given is the main benefit of becoming an AR. For him, the AR route is quicker, less onerous and generally less expensive than going DA. “This is because quite a bit of the procedural responsibilities devolve to the network. These would otherwise fall entirely upon the individual wishing to become authorised,” he says.

However, some advisers question whether joining a network means ARs are really in control and believe DA is a better fit for independent advisers. In a recent Money Marketing article Yvonne Goodwin Wealth Management managing director Yvonne Goodwin said it is better to go DA and get some compliance support as business owners  are then answerable only to the regulator and their clients.

Getting noticed as an employee

Advisers who do not want the responsibility of their own business may want to become a director or partner in the firm they work for.

Platform Black managing director Caroline Langron says: “Having a core set of values and morals that align with the company’s, and the willingness to go above and beyond will help you stand out and make the transition to director as the most attractive and logical step.”

Additional qualifications beyond the level four minimum can be used as a base for advisers to drive their careers forward.