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How can I pursue a career as an investment advisor?

Q:
My true passion is investments and I would like to start at entry level.

I would like to start a career in investments. I am currently busy with my BCompt degree and am also doing my Saica articles. Unfortunately I do not have a passion for auditing; my true passion is in investments. I do not yet qualify for CFA exams. How can I start at entry level?

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People ask me all the time why I love my job. I enjoy hearing about people’s pasts, what’s important to them, and where they’re headed. Everyone is unique, and I glean wisdom from each one of my clients and colleagues.

I also have a strong belief in what I do. My job allows me to guide people in making small changes today that can pay off in a big way later. Sometimes in dealing with a client, I learn what not to do, and gain nuggets of wisdom to apply to my life.

My job also requires me to learn continuously as this is not a static field of work. From rules, regulations, tools, and planning techniques to changes, improvements and new hurdles, I really like to learn and push myself – and others – to think differently. No two client situations are identical, and this keeps me on my toes! Case by case, goals are unique, facts and figures are different, and priorities change.

Skills needed

To be a successful advisor, you need to have excellent communication and listening skills. As an investment advisor, you will need to build close relationships with your clients to really understand their investment goals. You will need to know when they will need to use their money, and what they will be using it for.

To give good advice, an investment advisor must gather personal and financial data about the client. You must understand the client’s tolerance for risk and their expected rate of return on investments. A good investment advisor will use this data to analyse existing investments and make recommendations about what the client should be doing going forward. A good advisor should know where all their client’s investments are so their portfolio makes sense. Otherwise you may end up owning the same type of investments in different accounts.

Additional skills and attributes include (but are not limited to): 

  • An aptitude for mathematics and accountancy
  • Accuracy and an eye for numerical detail
  • Analytical and able to weigh up alternatives carefully
  • Ability to convey recommendations clearly and accurately
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Strategic thinking
  • The maturity for such a responsibility.

Educational requirements

While one can become an advisor without a degree, a recognised tertiary education in commerce, finance, accounting or economics will be necessary if you expect to build a career and have the respect of your peers and clients. A BCom degree in any of the following fields will provide the necessary basic training: 

  • Accountancy
  • Business management
  • Business finance
  • Cost and management accountancy
  • Economics
  • Financial management
  • Investment management and management accountancy.

After completing a relevant tertiary qualification, I would recommend honing your skill as a specialist by enrolling and completing the Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM®) credential. This qualification develops your skills in effective investment performance and risk evaluation, manager selection, and investment reports grounded in accountability.

If you’re not ready to specialise solely in investing, or would like to keep your options open, you can complete a postgraduate degree to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). A CFP is the premier financial planning qualification in the world.

Advisors are also required to pass several other legislated exams, such as the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) Regulatory Exams, and ensure that they are compliant with the Financial Advisory and Intermediary (FAIS) Act. In terms of section 52(13) of the Determination of Fit and Proper Requirements for Financial Services Providers, 2017 (“Determination”): a person who is authorised, approved or appointed after 1 April 2018 but prior to 1 August 2018 has until 1 August 2019 to comply with the class of business training requirements set out in Part 5 of Chapter 3 of the Determination.

As mentioned previously, continuous studying will be involved.

All of the best with your endeavours. I look forward to welcoming you to our field.

  

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