Are you stuck in a career rut? Are you a banker or a tied agent who’s hoping for a career with real job satisfaction? Among the possibilities out there, you may have even considered joining an independent financial adviser .
But what does independent mean, and how will it benefit you in the long run?
Firstly, independent financial advisers (“IFAs”) are organisations whose professionals (also known as representatives) offer independent financial advice to their clients and recommend suitable options from a wide range of financial products.
According to Financial Alliance founder Vincent Ee, IFAs offer unbiased financial advice, always acting in the best interests of their clients. “Being “independent”, IFAs are not tied to any particular financial product as opposed to a personal banker or an insurance agent.”
He pointed out that even though insurance agents, personal bankers, and IFAs work in a similar capacity in the financial advisory industry, their roles are different. Mr. Ee explained that insurance agents (also known as tied agents) are appointed representatives of their insurance companies. Acting in the best interests of their insurance companies, they only recommend products offered by their companies. For example, Prudential agents will only sell products from Prudential.
As for personal bankers, they represent the bank they work for. They only recommend products offered by their bank. However, they may also sell products from life insurance companies that their bank has partnered with.
He added, “Even though independent financial adviser representatives only recommend products from the IFA firms they represent, their recommendations are based on a much wider range of products because IFA firms work with not just one – but many – product providers, such as life insurance companies, investment houses and platforms. With a much wider base to work from, their advice is not biased in favour of any single product provider.”
IFA firms also offer benefits that non-independent firms do not:
Flexibility to Customise Products
IFA representatives provide customised advice and recommendations based on clients’ needs. IFAs are not tied to any particular insurance or investment product, so their representatives have the flexibility to offer a wider range of customised options to their clients than an insurance agent or a personal banker.
Going independent also offers the freedom to structure a business model that fits both the IFA representatives and their clients.
Deeper Personal Relationships with Clients
Most IFA representatives forge deeper, personal relationships with their clients, as they build a strong understanding of their clients’ situations in the long run. This often leads to a relationship that’s more responsive, attentive and personal.
Greater Support and Services
Some IFA firms have also better infrastructure, and technological support and services at their disposal to help enhance productivity and optimise results.
According to Mr. Ee, Financial Alliance is well-equipped with the latest technology and infrastructure to assist IFAs in their tasks. “Most of our consultants are able to work efficiently due to the comprehensive business operations support that we provide to facilitate their tasks, leading to greater job satisfaction.”
Get to Self-Plan Working Schedule
IFA representatives become their own bosses. By being able to plan their own working schedule, IFA representatives enjoy a more flexible career and lifestyle. Instead of being tied to a nine-to-five job, they have the freedom and flexibility of planning their working schedules in order to achieve their desired work-life balance.
Benefits-wise, being an IFA representative sounds appealing, and for those considering it as a career, Mr. Ee has a nugget of wisdom, “You must have a strong desire for success. With that desire, you must constantly push yourself to do what’s right and best for your clients. You also must be willing to embrace the “independent” business model in order to be truly independent.”
On career viability as an IFA representative, he added, “You win the competition most of the time because you have a wider range of options as opposed to a non-independent agent. You have stronger product offerings that are better suited to your clients’ needs.”
However, as attractive as it sounds, Mr. Ee said that this job may be challenging for some. “It’s not an easy job. You need to have personable traits, such as confidence, when dealing with clients.”
On making a career decision, Mr. Ee remarked that choosing the right place to start amidst the diverse career choices available today is the key.
So if you’re thinking of becoming a representative at an IFA firm as your next career move, do know that it may not come easy. However, by developing the right mindset and attitude, you’ll find yourself on the path to achieve a fulfilling career as an IFA representative.
Financial Alliance Singapore
If you think you have what it takes to be an independent financial adviser representative, you’re welcome to join Financial Alliance, Singapore’s largest independent financial advisory firm who has won many awards – including getting certified as a Singapore Quality Class Star company and a People Developer – and built a solid reputation in the financial advisory industry. Stay connected to our Facebook page by liking us to be notified when the next article is published.
Special thanks to Financial Alliance’s Corporate Development Director, MK Chan, for sharing his knowledge and experience to make this article possible.
– Written by Malcolm Mejin, the Financial Alliance Writing Team
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Important: The information and opinions in this article are for general information purposes only. They should not be relied on as professional financial advice. Readers should seek independent financial advice that is customised to their specific financial objectives, situations & needs.