Empowering the Freelance Economy

Financial services to see boom for career-changers and freelancers

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The number of qualified financial advisers in the UK is on the decline, leaving a gap in career-changing opportunities. The Freelance Informer speaks to someone who made the career change to the industry and is now self-employed and loving it.


The number of qualified advisers is in decline. The average age of a financial adviser is 57 in the UK. As these individuals start to retire, this is creating an advice gap.   

There is also a tremendous amount of demand from people looking for trusted financial advice with a growing number of ‘mass affluent’[1][1] individuals in the UK, according to St. James’s Place. 

There are a few different ways to meet the need for more qualified professionals, but the industry is seeing a number of aspiring entrepreneurs ‘career changing’ to the profession, becoming sole traders and starting their own financial advice business, said the advisory firm. 

Graduates of St. James’s Place Financial Adviser Academy for example are proving that diverse backgrounds are helping to move the dial and in effect, making financial advice accessible to even more people.  

One person who has made a career change of late into the financial services sector is Rachel Stewart, 40, from East Lothian.

Rachel had a 15-year career in law before pursuing her own business as a financial adviser. Rachel was dedicated to the career that she studied for at university, but after a time, she realised that she lacked fulfilment. Having her two children finally gave her the impetus to change direction. 

Making the career leap into financial services 

Rachel’s career in law crossed over with the financial services sector multiple times. Working within the legal and financial services industries, Rachel tells The Freelance Informer that she was able to build up a strong base of contacts – and it was one of those connections that led her to consider financial advice as a career.  

She relays how her career change journey began:

“A contact and friend of mine had a large financial advice practice under the St James’s Place Financial partnership. He offered me the chance to shadow him for the day to get a flavour for what the day to day of financial advice involved.

After shadowing for the day, I was hooked

Rachel Stewart

“During the day, I witnessed some difficult conversations between him and his clients but rather than be put off, I found myself further drawn to the profession. It was an exciting prospect to be able to help another person, perhaps even somebody not too dissimilar from myself, that just wants to make the best of what they’ve got. After shadowing for the day, I was hooked.” 

Rachel signed up to the St James’s Place Financial Advisor Academy in June 2019.  She graduated after six months, qualified and with the necessary skills and ongoing support to launch her own financial advice business.  

Explaining how she coped financially during this time, Rachel says, “I had been prepping financially for a change, so I was able to manage the transition from my previous job back to being a student. But I had also previously supported my husband through his own conversion to self-employment therefore it was my turn to receive the same support.”

There were a few ‘rabbit in headlights’ moments, but I just needed to pick myself up and get on with it – after all your own success is down to you

Rachel Stewart on becoming a financial adviser

How can you be successful as a financial adviser?

“Within the academy curriculum,” she explains, “you’re given all the tools needed to do the job, with access to support, mentoring and some valuable contacts. But to be successful in setting up your own business, you need to be incredibly driven and committed. 

“I’m not afraid to admit, there were a few ‘rabbit in headlights’ moments, but I just needed to pick myself up and get on with it – after all your own success is down to you. For me, it was an unnerving, yet exhilarating place to be.” 

Launching a business in a pandemic 

Rachel tells us that became an expert in making the conditions of the pandemic work for her.

“I knew that I wanted my business style to be less about pinstripe suits and briefcases – something that the industry is traditionally known for – and more approachable. So rather than venturing into corporate offices to deliver advice, my clients like me to either meet them at their house or online via a video call.

“This means that I can be more readily available to my clients with the added bonus that it affords me the flexibility that I need in my family life. I often find myself joining video calls with clients at 9 pm after I have put the children to bed. It suits both parties perfectly.”  

Rachel explains, “I get a great deal of satisfaction, fulfilment and enjoyment in what I do. I am now content in all areas of my work and family life – it’s a great place to be.” 

Mass affluent applies to individuals in the UK with between £50,000 and £5 million of investable assets. This demographic is projected to rise from 11 million in 2021 to 13 million by 2024*.  


Who’s Hiring & Training?

People like Karl Wilkinson inspire people to change careers and start anew in the financial services sector. Karl, once a one-person mortgage broker, has been building his mortgage and insurance business, Access Financial Services, since 2017. He has been able to do this by attracting people outside the industry to become brokers, from ex-military and police personnel to taxi drivers.

According to a Financial Times report, Wilkinson is on a mission to double the number of brokers working for his business. “It has now set itself a target of growing to 200 brokers, and to help these achieve six-figure earnings each,” said the report.

If you are considering making a career change to the financial services sector, forms like Access offer training and certification courses, in their case courses are heavily focused on the mortgage and insurance sectors, however, here is a list of other financial adviser academies to look into:

Openwork Academy

Quilter Financial Adviser School

Next Gen Planners Training Contract

Glascow Financial Services Training

Simply Academy

The Art of Finance

Clarity Financial Training

To find more detailed information about the above academies refer here.

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