The international financial services industry is incredibly rewarding and extremely enjoyable.  I know – I spent a decade living in the Middle East.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time working within such a dynamic sector and loved every minute of it.

Yet, sometimes financial advisers working in the international space may, at some point in their careers, consider making the move back to the UK, perhaps for family reasons, cost of living or their children’s education, for example.

Maybe because 2 years ago I made the move myself, people have been asking me about how to make such a transition a successful one.  I’ve noticed many common themes over the last 24 months or so.  Not least, as you have been an expat during your time working abroad, you’ll typically find it easier to work with returning expat clients – you’ll be able to identify with their lifestyles and, as a result, their financial objectives.  Returning expats make up a large proportion of our business here in the UK as we form part of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations, specialising in cross-border financial solutions for expats and international investors.

So for any IFAs looking into moving back to the UK, below are a number of factors I would suggest are taken into consideration:

First, there are a number of routes which you can take to become an Independent Financial Adviser or Wealth Manager in the UK.  All of which will require you to be a member of an authorised body and have an appropriate Level 4 Qualification.  The main body in the UK which IFA’s tend to use is the Chartered Institute of Insurance which requires the completion of 5 multiple choice and 1 written paper, R01-R06.

Second, those advisers who left their UK roles as bank advisers, IFA’s, mortgage advisers and paraplanners may be able to get accreditation and reduce the number of qualifications they are required to get.  I would advise those returning to the UK to revisit this and speak with the CII on +44 (0)20 8989 8464.  Alternatively, if you still have your login details you may be able to retrieve a ‘learning statement’ which will help you to identify what you have and what you may need to do,

Third, degrees in accounting, finance, business and economics can all carry important ‘credits’.  These credits will assist with building the necessary requirements to be an IFA in the UK and may even provide advanced credit exemptions, reducing the time it takes to become a Chartered Financial Planner.  Typically, this would reduce the examinations required by 1 – 2 exams.

Fourth, it is possible to advise as a trainee under an appropriate level of supervision, once you have been assessed to meet a satisfactory level of competence and have the R01 qualification.  Advisers have 30 months to pass the R0 qualifications once they have started.  At GWM we would expect this to be achieved in 12-18 months which is the average time someone who is serious about their career is likely to take.

Fifth, dedication is required, with the average amount of study hours per exam averaging between 50-60 hours and 100 hours for R06.  This means it is simply impossible to cram for a week and expect to pass.

Sixth, advisers returning from abroad often find the UK to be totally different to their experience overseas.  There is a clear emphasis and requirement for advisers to provide rounded holistic financial advice including estate planning, investment, tax, retirement and life protection.  The number of tax wrappers, institutions, products and investments is far wider requiring huge levels of resources to research through and align with client objectives and needs.  This leads to the requirement for advisers to keep upskilling themselves, maintain their knowledge and often specialise in specific areas.

Lastly, with the huge level of dedication, knowledge and experience required, being a financial planner in the UK is a lifelong career shared with clients, and it is part of our over-arching mission at GWM to remain at our clients’ side for all their individual financial circumstances through every phase of life’s journey.

If you would like to speak to us about how to start your journey take a look at our website or touch base with me personally.


Click here for our Website, my LinkedIn profile and my Twitter account.

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