Facilities manager

Salary and conditions

  • Graduate facilities managers at entry level can expect to earn £18,000 – £22,000. The highest salaries are in London and the South East and in graduate training schemes.
  • Salaries rise with experience and vary according to sector, function and location. Achieving chartered status will result in higher pay. Senior facilities managers may earn £26,000 – £38,000 or up to £60,000 if they have UK-wide responsibilities.
  • The increase in public-private partnership funding has increased opportunities in facilities management and these projects are more likely to offer financial bonuses and better salary increases.
  • Working hours are generally 40 per week, though longer hours may be required on occasion to meet project deadlines or to cover emergencies. Some facilities management roles may require shift work in order to cover 24-hour operations. Meetings and visits may sometimes necessitate out-of-hours working.
  • Additional benefits often include a pension scheme, private health care, performance-related bonuses, company car or car allowance and profit share or share save schemes.
  • Women are slightly under represented in facilities management, but the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM)  does have a ‘Women in FM’ special interest group, which helps with networking and development.
  • Opportunities exist all over the UK in both the public and the private sectors.
  • Travel during the working day may be required in order to visit different premises and absence from home overnight is sometimes necessary.
  • Long-term projects may demand flexibility or relocation.
  • There may be opportunities for overseas travel.


Job description

Facilities managers are responsible for the management of services and processes that support the core business of an organisation. They ensure that an organisation has the most suitable working environment for its employees and their activities. Duties vary with the nature of the organisation, but facilities managers generally focus on using best business practice to improve efficiency, by reducing operating costs while increasing productivity.

This is a wide field with a diverse range of responsibilities, which are dependant on the structure of the organisation. Facilities managers are involved in both strategic planning and day-to-day operations, particularly in relation to buildings and premises. Likely areas of responsibility include:

  • procurement and contract management;
  • building and grounds maintenance;
  • cleaning;
  • catering and vending;
  • health and safety;
  • security;
  • utilities and communications infrastructure;
  • space management.


Typical work activities


Facilities managers are employed in all sectors and industries and the diversity of the work may be reflected in different job titles such as operations, estates, technical services, asset or property manager. Responsibilities often cover several departments, as well as central services that link to all the teams in the organisation. In smaller companies, duties may include more practical and hands-on tasks. Many facilities management professionals are employed on a consultancy basis, contracted to manage some or all of these activities by a client organisation.

Typical tasks may include:

  • preparing documents to put out tenders for contractors;
  • project management and supervising and coordinating work of contractors;
  • investigating availability and suitability of options for new premises;
  • calculating and comparing costs for required goods or services to achieve maximum value for money;
  • planning for future development in line with strategic business objectives;
  • managing and leading change to ensure minimum disruption to core activities;
  • liaising with tenants of commercial properties;
  • directing and planning essential central services such as reception, security, maintenance, mail, archiving, cleaning, catering, waste disposal and recycling;
  • ensuring the building meets health and safety requirements;
  • planning best allocation and utilisation of space and resources for new buildings, or re-organising current premises;
  • checking that agreed work by staff or contractors has been completed satisfactorily and following up on any deficiencies;
  • coordinating and leading one or more teams to cover various areas of responsibility;
  • using performance management techniques to monitor and demonstrate achievement of agreed service levels and to lead on improvement;
  • responding appropriately to emergencies or urgent issues as they arise.


Entry requirements

Entry is open to graduates of all disciplines although certain subjects are particularly useful. The University of Central Lancashire offers a degree in facilities management, but other relevant subjects include:

  • building management;
  • construction;
  • surveying;
  • business studies;
  • engineering;
  • property.

Entry can be made with just an HND/foundation degree and it is helpful if the qualification is in a relevant subject such as facilities management, business studies or management.

Entry without a degree/HND is possible although this will usually be at a lower level. Once a job is obtained, relevant qualifications are usually then studied for. This includes level 3 qualifications from the Institute of Leadership and Management  which consist of an award, certificate and diploma in facilities management.

Postgraduate qualifications are useful and may improve your chances of securing a job, but they are not essential. Postgraduate diplomas and Masters are available in facilities management and the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM)  has a list of accredited courses. These qualifications are sometimes taken while working to aid career progression.

It is also possible to move into this job from another related role, especially if relevant professional qualifications, such as those in surveying, accountancy and estate management, have been obtained. It is common for those with some sort of building services/engineering or office management/administration background to enter facilities management.

Candidates need to show evidence of the following skills and abilities:

  • organisation and systematic thinking;
  • strong numeracy and the ability to understand financial data;
  • research skills and the ability to draw information from various sources, including people;
  • IT skills;
  • clear and concise writing skills and the ability to handle long and complex documents;
  • interpersonal, relationship-building and negotiation skills;
  • spatial awareness and the ability to work with diagrams;
  • flexibility and the ability to work on more than one task at a time.

Pre-entry experience is desirable and a placement year in industry from a relevant degree can prove to be particularly useful. Any experience in related areas such as management, building or construction will also be a help, so consider any part-time or vacation work in relation to this.

For more information, see work experience and internships and search courses and research.








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Salary and conditions

  • Range of typical starting salaries for new ergonomics graduates: £20,000 – £25,000.
  • Range of salaries with around five years’ experience: £25,000 – £40,000.
  • Senior ergonomists can earn up to £60,000.
  • Salaries vary significantly between large industrial companies and universities. Earnings in consultancies are equally variable. Those with an ergonomics degree in addition to relevant experience from a previous profession can earn higher salaries than those stated above.
  • Ergonomists generally work office hours, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but overtime and weekend or shift work may be required depending on the employer and the project.
  • Working environments can differ enormously. However, the work often involves a combination of office or laboratory-based activities and field work/externally based tasks.
  • Self-employment/freelance work is possible for those with experience in a specific area.
  • There are many opportunities in the field to undertake individual research. This usually involves liaising with other freelance ergonomists.
  • Because of ongoing developments in technology and design, ergonomists must be prepared to continue learning throughout their careers.
  • Jobs are available in most areas but mobility may be necessary to secure promotion.
  • The work can be stressful because of the demands of the clients and professionals in other fields.
  • The work often involves interacting with a range of people within a team of professionals and/or working with clients or with individuals in the process of assessing workplace issues.
  • Travel within a working day and absence from home at night can be frequent but varies according to the focus of the role. Overseas work or travel is occasional.

Job description

Ergonomists are concerned with the safety and efficiency of equipment, systems and transportation. They use scientific information to ensure the health, comfort and protection of the people using them and due to the nature of the work can find themselves in a wide range of environments. According to the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors , ‘Ergonomics is the application of scientific information concerning humans to the design of objects, systems and environment for human use.’

By scientifically studying the relationship between people, environments and equipment, ergonomists can use their findings to improve human interaction with processes and systems. Areas of work include product/equipment design, production systems, information and advanced technology and transport design.

They may work in consultancy, research, development or teaching and may also be called human factors specialists

Typical work activities

An ergonomist’s work activities vary widely but are always based on ensuring that a system or product meets the needs of the user and will usually include:

  • investigating the physical capabilities and limitations of the human body;
  • analysing how people use equipment and machinery;
  • undertaking workplace risk assessments;
  • assessing work environments and their effect on users;
  • utilising assessment results to identify areas for improvement;
  • designing practical solutions to implement these improvements;
  • producing user manuals to ensure the best use of new systems or products;
  • producing reports of findings and recommendations;
  • writing proposals and compiling statistical data;
  • using detailed knowledge of the human body to improve the design of products, such as cars and leisure facilities;
  • interviewing individuals and observing them in a particular type of environment, as part of the research process;
  • liaising with staff at all levels of an organisation to undertake research;
  • visiting a wide range of environments, such as offices, factories, hospitals and oil rigs, in order to assess health and safety standards or to investigate workplace accidents;
  • providing advice, information and training to colleagues and clients;
  • acting as an expert witness in cases of industrial injury;
  • developing a clear understanding of how specific industries and their systems work in a short space of time;
  • managing sections of projects;
  • presenting to clients, conferences and professional societies;
  • identifying opportunities for new work.

Entry requirements

There are two common routes to qualifying as a professional ergonomist:

  • a BSc in Ergonomics recognised by the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors;
  • a relevant postgraduate qualification (MSc or PhD by course or research).

For entry via the postgraduate route, a degree in a relevant subject is required. Examples include:

  • engineering;
  • computer science/software engineering;
  • mathematics/physics;
  • operational research;
  • physiotherapy/occupational therapy;
  • medicine;
  • design;
  • sports science;
  • psychology;
  • biology.

Some distance learning courses, leading to a relevant postgraduate certificate, diploma or MSc are also available. Visit the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors  website for more information.

A high standard of academic qualifications is usually sought by employers.

Some courses include a year of practical experience. The choice of course and the type of pre-course qualification you have may affect the type of areas in which you can specialise as a professional ergonomist. The Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors’ website has details of recognised and qualifying courses. As there are more places on postgraduate courses, more graduates will enter the profession with a Masters.

Entry is not possible with an HND only.

Applicants with a relevant postgraduate qualification will have an advantage, particularly if this is combined with related work experience, specifically in industry.

Whilst pre-entry experience is not required, work in a relevant environment can be useful. Employers usually favour candidates with some level of industrial experience.

Potential candidates will need to show evidence of the following:

  • a good level of numeracy;
  • the ability to understand technical concepts;
  • an interest in people’s behaviour in different situations;
  • problem-solving skills;
  • a systematic approach to studying people in their work environment and producing research;
  • the ability to work well with people at all levels;
  • good communication and negotiation skills.

Membership of the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors is open to anyone but those who are qualified and experienced gain entry to the professional register, which is sent out to employers and profiled on the institute’s website. Membership can also be a useful way of forging professional contacts. The institute also runs a work experience scheme, ‘Opening Doors’, which operates an online placement service, available to student members. Use projects on degree courses to develop areas of specialty and to create opportunities for holiday work. Sandwich options on degree courses are also very useful. A valuable way to gain greater insight into the profession is to talk to working ergonomists. Contact the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors for more information about speaking to professionals in the field.

The hardest job to get is the first one, meaning that initially competition is high but there is a great demand for ergonomists with over three years’ experience. This field welcomes mature candidates and is open to those starting new careers. A high proportion of ergonomists enter the profession in their 30s and 40s and come from a range of backgrounds, including physiotherapy, psychology and engineering.

For more information, see work experience and internships and search courses and research.

Civil Service fast streamer

Salary and conditions

  • Starting salaries usually range between £25,000 and £27,000.
  • Typical salary after promotion, usually after four to five years but dependent entirely on performance: around £45,000, eventually rising to around £57,000 or more.
  • These salary ranges apply to London-based posts. Most entry-level posts are based in London. Starting salaries can vary across departments and sometimes departments offer pay above the minimum to reflect certain experience or qualifications (e.g. a relevant postgraduate degree).
  • Departments differ quite widely in their range of work and style. Some roles require long and/or irregular hours, but working hours are more likely to be a standard nine to five and most roles do not require working weekends or shifts.
  • A generous holiday entitlement of 25 days plus 10.5 days public and privilege holidays are given.
  • A large proportion of the work is office based.
  • Family friendly benefits, including flexible working hours and job sharing, are widely available. Many departments also offer crèches, holiday play schemes or childcare assistance. Some departments offer loans for transport season tickets, and access to sports and social facilities.
  • Part-time work and career breaks are possible but self-employment/freelance work is not.
  • It is often necessary to work under considerable pressure.
  • Although slightly more than half of Civil Service jobs are held by women, men continue to be over-represented in the more senior roles. The Civil Service is committed to increasing diversity in its workforce and regularly publishes its employment statistics.
  • Initially, jobs are in restricted locations. Most departments will start Fast Stream recruits in London, but many civil servants, including senior staff, work outside the South East. There are also opportunities in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield, for example.
  • Travel within a working day, absence from home overnight and overseas work or travel may be required occasionally. Relocation and mobility may be required to make progress in some departments and may be a permanent fact of life in others.

    Job description

    The Civil Service Fast Stream  is an accelerated development programme for graduates preparing them for careers at the highest levels of the Civil Service. Fast streamers are placed in regularly changing roles of intensive responsibility to prepare them for future senior managerial positions.

    Working with, and for government, Civil Service fast streamers are exposed to a range of placements in government departments and agencies. Opportunities for secondment into the private sector, charities or other public sector organisations may also be available. Placements usually last around 12 to 18 months.

    The precise nature of the job changes from placement to placement but will generally include the following types of roles:

    • policy adviser;
    • project leader;
    • consultant;
    • researcher.

    Typical work activities

    Civil Service fast streamers are expected to become skilled negotiators and good managers. After three to five years’ training, those with an aptitude for the work might be managing a multimillion-pound budget or taking the lead in drafting a government White Paper.

    Typical work activities include:

    • rapidly developing an in-depth knowledge of a particular subject or issue, to the extent that you will be consulted as a topic expert;
    • representing your department’s interests and negotiating with others to reach a position of mutual satisfaction;
    • contributing constructively to issues where many interests are involved;
    • formulating and implementing policy;
    • communicating complex ideas clearly, both orally and in writing (e.g. you may be required to summarise a 1,000 page report into a page of A4 for a busy minister);
    • adapting to different jobs, possibly in different departments on a regular basis;
    • working quickly and under pressure, often within complex rules and procedures;
    • leading and managing projects, resources and people;
    • achieving and delivering results to deadline.

    Entry requirements

    There are six fast stream options to choose from:

    • Graduate Fast Stream
    • Analytical Fast Stream
    • HR Fast Stream
    • Technology in Business Fast Stream
    • European Fast Stream
    • Northern Ireland Fast Stream

    The Graduate Fast Stream option is open to people with a degree in any discipline and is sub-divided into four further options: Central Departments; Diplomatic Service; Houses of Parliament; Science and Engineering.

    The Analytical Fast Stream option is open to graduates with a relevant degree who wish to pursue a career as an economist, social researcher or statistician.

    The HR Fast Stream option is for people wanting to build a career in all areas of the HR profession.

    The Technology in Business Fast Stream option is for those who have a strong interest in technology, particularly IT systems, and who want to be involved in managing the government’s use of technology and how this impacts on every area of society.

    European Fast Stream is suitable for people seeking a career in the EU institutions and the Northern Ireland for those seeking a Civil Service career in that country.

    The majority of fast streamers are recruited from any degree discipline (the exceptions being those entering the streams for statisticians, economists, and science and engineering). A 2:2 honours degree is the minimum entry requirement (2:1 for economists and the technology in business stream). The recruitment process is extremely thorough and places greater emphasis on future potential than past achievement. Additionally, if you have a disability that has prevented you from obtaining a degree, and you can provide alternative evidence of your suitability, the degree requirement may be waived.

    Further details about the schemes, eligibility criteria and how to apply are available from the Civil Service Fast Stream  website.

    Entry is not possible with an HND or foundation degree only. Although not essential for any of the other schemes, postgraduate qualifications are welcomed and are recognised in starting salaries.

    Pre-entry experience is not required, although sandwich course placements, vacation visits and work experience are all offered by many government departments. See the Civil Service Jobs  for details. The Civil Service Summer Diversity Internships  programme aims to improve diversity within graduate recruitment. It also provides a valuable insight into the wide ranging opportunities across the Civil Service.

    Candidates to the Fast Stream need to show evidence of the following:

    • a lively, informed but impartial interest in political and economic issues;
    • decision-making, planning and organisational skills;
    • initiative, flexibility and the ability to deal with the unexpected;
    • ability to rapidly build relationships and work in an extended team;
    • ability to translate complex and technical information, persuade and communicate;
    • commitment to personal and professional development.

    A small number of posts are available only to UK nationals, but most are open to Commonwealth Citizens or European Economic Area (EEA) Nationals with unrestricted right to reside in the UK. The Diplomatic Service has certain residency requirements for applicants (see Civil Service Fast Stream  for full details).

    Competition is very keen, with thousands of applications for just over 550 vacancies. In 2008, there were approximately 14,500 applicants across the general and specialist Fast Stream programmes.

    Applications must be made online, with varying deadlines depending on which stream you are applying for. Candidates are assessed on their drive for results, and their abilities to learn and improve, make decisions, think constructively, build productive relationships and communicate with impact. The application process involves:

    • a non-assessed stage of competency evaluations for potential applicants to assess their own suitability for the scheme;
    • online tests (verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning, competency questionnaire);
    • an e-application form;
    • a supervised e-tray exercise at a regional centre;
    • a one-day assessment at a centre in London;
    • there is a specialist assessment for applicants applying to the analytical fast stream option but these applicants do not need to complete some of the earlier recruitment stages;
    • for some options there is also a final selection interview.

Tax adviser

Salary and conditions

  • Range of typical graduate starting salaries: £20,000 – £32,000.
  • Newly qualified chartered tax advisers (CTAs) can expect a salary in the range of £26,000 to £37,000.
  • Subsequent salary progression for CTAs is in the range of £30,000 to £55,000 and at management level between £50,000 to £100,000, with the potential for some principal/technical directors to earn up to £150,000.
  • Salaries vary widely depending on employer, type of specialization and area of the country. Salaries are towards the higher end of the scale in London and the South East.
  • Typical benefits packages include 30 days’ holiday, pension and private medical insurance.
  • Working hours are mainly 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, possibly with some extra hours and work at weekends during busy times such as end of the tax year. Some firms have introduced flexible working hours. Working with private clients may involve home visits, sometimes out of hours.
  • Work is often in a team environment.
  • Once qualified, and with several years’ experience, self-employment is possible. Self-employed tax advisers usually deal with individuals, self-employed traders, partnerships and small companies.
  • Career breaks and part-time work are commonplace.
  • The majority of trainee opportunities are in London and other major cities, though opportunities exist throughout the UK.
  • The work involves working to deadlines, which are usually absolute as tax return deadlines are non-negotiable.
  • Local travel within a working day is normal for client visits.
  • Absence from home at night and overseas travel are occasionally needed and more likely for senior managers. There may be opportunities to work overseas for a multinational company or for a UK-based company with offices abroad.

Job description

A tax adviser uses their knowledge of tax legislation to provide advisory and consultancy services to clients, ensuring that they pay their taxes in the most efficient way and benefit from any tax advantages and exemptions. They keep up to date with changing tax laws and explain complicated legislation and its implications to their clients, in simple terms.

They create tax strategies for their clients and plan their financial futures. They carry out detailed computations to calculate tax liability, submit tax returns by the relevant deadline and deal with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)  on behalf of their clients. Some also offer other accountancy services.

The work is highly detailed and complex and can be challenging and rewarding. Clients can include large and small companies, partnerships, trusts and individuals.

Typical work activities

There are two main areas of work:

  • Tax planning – staying abreast of changes in tax law and structuring clients’ affairs lawfully to minimise future tax liabilities. Tax planning is normally carried out by tax professionals operating within an accountancy practice or lawyers working within law firms.
  • Tax compliance – ensuring a client meets all tax obligations by preparing and submitting tax returns, tax computations and any other necessary forms. Dealing with tax authorities. This work is usually undertaken by accountancy practices.

Initially a graduate within a tax advisory role career might focus on compliance activities, for example, completing tax returns and calculating amount payable, with movement towards consultancy and specialisation as their career develops.

The work of a tax adviser will depend on the nature and size of the employer. Larger accountancy firms tend to adopt a structure that permits greater specialisation. For example, new graduates in large organisations may be employed to undertake research about a particular specialist area on behalf of more experienced colleagues.

Typical work activities include:

  • researching, analysing and interpreting changing tax legislation;
  • meeting with clients and collating information;
  • working with tax law and revenue provisions;
  • preparing and submitting compliance (tax) returns;
  • liaising and negotiating with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC);
  • providing consultancy services to high value private clients;
  • advising on tax liabilities;
  • establishing and structuring family trusts;
  • estate planning and advising on tax residence and domicile matters;
  • providing guidance on indirect taxation issues such as VAT, customs planning and environmental taxes.

Some self-employed tax advisers also offer their clients a range of accountancy services, such as bookkeeping, payroll and VAT.

Entry requirements

Graduates in any discipline can qualify as a tax adviser. However, the following degree subject areas may increase your chances:

  • accountancy and finance;
  • business/management;
  • economics;
  • law;
  • mathematics/statistics.

Financial risk analyst

Salary and conditions

  • Range of typical starting salaries: £22,000 – £30,000 plus potential bonuses.
  • Range of typical salaries at senior analyst level with three to five years’ experience: £30,000 – £70,000 plus potential bonuses.
  • Financial analyst managers earn in the region of £70,000 plus potential bonuses, although depending on the employer this can exceed £100,000.
  • Salary levels depend on the size and type of the organisation. Most organisations also offer benefits packages.
  • Working hours typically include regular extra hours, although not weekends or shifts.
  • The work is mainly office based, but may involve visiting various other organisations.
  • Self-employment/freelance work is a viable option on a consultancy basis, although considerable experience and expertise are required.
  • Opportunities tend to be in large towns and cities.
  • The job involves working under pressure to meet deadlines.
  • Travel within a working day is frequently necessary and absence from home overnight is occasionally required.
  • There may be opportunities to work overseas, particularly if you are employed by a large international company.

Job description

Financial risk analysts identify and analyse the areas of potential risk threatening the assets, earning capacity or success of organisations in the industrial, commercial or public sector. They are sometimes called risk managers. They have the responsibility of forecasting cost to the organisation and predicting change and future trends.

There are high degrees of specialisation within the profession. Risk analysts may work in sales, origination, trading, marketing, financial services or private banking, specialising in:

  • credit;
  • market;
  • operational;
  • regulatory.

Financial institutions are required to manage market and credit risks daily. Risk analysts are therefore increasingly tasked with responsibilities touching all four key areas.

An alternative but similar role to financial risk analyst is that of the credit analyst in which the creditworthiness of a business is calculated and a probability of payment determined. Risk analysis is considered by many to be advanced credit analysis.

Typical work activities

A financial risk analyst’s role is to formalise the process of risk management within an organisation. This involves business decision-making and enabling the process of risk taking.

  • Credit risk specialists analyse the risk to the company of its customers not paying for goods or services or defaulting on loans.
  • Market risk specialists analyse the risk that outside factors may affect the share price or the market. They typically work closely with traders to calculate the risk associated with specific trading transactions.
  • Operational risk analysts look at the likelihood of risky events, such as system breakdowns and employee fraud.
  • Regulatory risk analysts look at the impact on the company of new legislation.

Work activities depend on the nature and business of the employer, but tasks typically involve:

  • managing resources wisely;
  • considering proposed business decisions;
  • protecting the organisation’s assets and public image;
  • conducting research to assess the severity of risk;
  • conducting statistical analysis to evaluate risk and using statistical software such as SPSS and SAS;
  • making recommendations to reduce/control risk, which may involve an insurance strategy;
  • reviewing legal documents;
  • presenting ideas via reports and presentations, outlining findings and making recommendations for improvements;
  • working with traders to calculate the risk associated with specific transactions;
  • forecasting and monitoring market trends;
  • purchasing insurance;
  • analysing a bank’s market position and running figures through complex modelling techniques to find value at risk (VAR) measurements;
  • carrying out quantitative analysis;
  • using financial packages and software, including portfolio management software;
  • studying government legislation, which may affect a company, and advising on compliance;
  • developing contingency plans to deal with emergencies.

Entry requirements

Although this area of work is open to all graduates and diplomates, a degree or HND in the following subjects may increase your chances:

  • finance;
  • mathematics;
  • statistics;
  • accountancy;
  • legal studies;
  • business;
  • economics;
  • engineering.

Employers are increasingly looking for degrees in finance, mathematics or statistics. BSc courses in risk management related to finance are available at City University and Glasgow Caledonian University.

Entry without a degree or HND may be possible, but larger employers prefer graduates and so applicants without degrees may find their applications are looked upon less favourably than their graduate counterparts. Without a degree, experience in finance or insurance is usually required, along with professional qualifications.

A postgraduate qualification, such as an MSc in financial-related risk management or financial markets, can also significantly improve your employment prospects, particularly for candidates with an unrelated undergraduate degree.

Entry is also possible through graduate training programmes, especially in many of the larger finance organisations. Specific risk management training is sometimes included in these programmes.

Pre-entry commercial experience can be an asset.

Candidates will need to show evidence of the following:

  • strong numeracy and analytical skills;
  • good research skills;
  • planning/organisational skills and problem-solving ability;
  • IT competence/computer literacy;
  • negotiation skills;
  • written and oral communication skills;
  • the ability to explain complex issues and present technical information clearly;
  • commercial awareness;
  • the ability to work independently and to cope with pressure and responsibility;
  • the confidence to relate to a wide range of people and to challenge people when necessary.

Competition for jobs is usually intense. The role of financial risk analyst has grown significantly in recent years and involves the management of increasingly complex financial products. Enhanced regulations and a more risk-conscious banking sector, means organisations are investing more heavily in their risk functions, creating more jobs in this area.

For more information, see work experience and internships and search courses and research.

Financial adviser

Salary and conditions

  • Range of typical salaries at trainee adviser level: £22,000 – £30,000.
  • Range of typical salaries for qualified financial advisers: £30,000 – £40,000.
  • Senior financial advisers can earn in excess of £40,000.
  • Wealth managers/private client advisers who are based in the wealth division of major retail and private banks can earn in excess of £70,000.
  • It is often possible to earn bonuses, which can be uncapped.
  • Some jobs, for example as a tied adviser in a high street bank, offer regular office hours. However, flexibility is required if working for a banking contact centre or as an independent financial adviser (IFA) as clients may require evening and weekend meetings.
  • Working can be office based although IFAs may work from home or meet clients in their own homes.
  • Self-employment and career breaks are possible.
  • There are openings for tied, multi-tied and independent advisers throughout the UK. However, private banking positions tend to be based in the City of London and other key financial areas such as Edinburgh, Belfast and Manchester.
  • Travel within a working day is common for IFAs, but overnight stays away from home are unusual.
  • Due to the regulatory nature of financial advice, overseas work is uncommon and most jobs are UK-based serving UK customers. However, there are some opportunities for experienced advisers to work abroad for offshore financial advisory groups and international banks.

Job description

Financial advisers provide clients with advice on financial matters, making recommendations on ways to best utilise their money. The role involves researching the marketplace and advising clients on products and services available, ensuring they are aware of and understand those that best meet their needs, and then securing a sale.

Advisers may specialise in particular products, depending on their clients, e.g. selling employee pension schemes to companies or offering mortgage, pension or investment advice to private clients. Others are generalists, offering advice to clients in all of these areas, plus savings plans and insurance.

In order to give financial advice, advisers must have professional qualifications and follow strict financial industry rules.

Typical work activities

Financial advisers can work as:

  • tied advisers – working for one organisation, such as a bank, building society or insurance company, and selling only their products;
  • multi-tied advisers – selling several companies’ products;
  • independent financial advisers (IFAs) – advising on any company’s products and, by law, providing clients with the most suitable advice.

Tasks vary depending on the role but typically involve:

  • contacting clients and setting up meetings, either within an office environment or in clients’ homes or business premises;
  • conducting in-depth reviews of clients’ financial circumstances, current provision and future aims;
  • analysing information and preparing plans best suited to individual clients’ requirements;
  • researching the marketplace and providing clients with information on new and existing products and services;
  • designing financial strategies;
  • assisting clients to make informed decisions;
  • researching information from various sources, including providers of financial products;
  • promoting and selling financial products to meet given or negotiated sales targets;
  • negotiating with product suppliers for the best possible rates;
  • liaising with head office and financial services providers;
  • liaising with other professionals, such as estate agents, solicitors and valuers;
  • keeping up to date with financial products and legislation;
  • producing financial reports;
  • contacting clients with news of new financial products or changes to legislation that may affect their savings and investments;
  • meeting the regulatory aspects of the role, e.g. requirements for disclosure, costs of the services provided and also the advised products.

Entry requirements

Although this area of work is open to graduates and diplomates of any discipline, the following subjects may improve your chances:

  • finance/financial studies;
  • business management;
  • accountancy.

Entry without a degree is possible and employers often regard personal qualities as important as academic qualifications. Relevant experience in a customer service, sales or financial services setting is also viewed positively. New entrants often start in a bank and study part time, learning alongside experienced advisers.

It is also possible to enter the financial advice sector as a paraplanner, providing research and administrative support to a financial adviser.

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not needed.

Evidence of commercial awareness acquired through part-time or vacation work or a longer work placement is useful. Experience in sales, advisory or customer service work is also valuable. Talk to a financial adviser for a greater insight into this area of work.

Candidates will need to show evidence of the following:

  • excellent communication, interpersonal and listening skills;
  • the ability to explain complex information simply and clearly;
  • the ability to network and establish relationships with clients;
  • research and analytical skills;
  • negotiation and influencing skills as well as determination and tenacity;
  • the ability to work in a team;
  • time management skills;
  • self-motivation and organisation;
  • a good level of numeracy;
  • a target-driven mindset;
  • a flexible approach to work;
  • decision-making skills;
  • discretion and an understanding of the need for client confidentiality;
  • an ethical and professional approach to work.

A full driving licence is useful, particularly for independent financial advisers (IFAs) who may have to travel to visit clients in their own homes.

Some retail banks offer graduate training schemes, whereas private banks often recruit graduates direct into the business.

It is possible to move into financial advice from other areas of the banking and insurance sector.

More information on a career in financial advice and planning is available from the Financial Skills Partnership .

For more information, see work experience and internships and search courses and research.