Career story: achieving chartered status as a financial adviser

20 March, 2023Joshua Downes
Sonny Kurmi

After doing his work experience in a high street bank at the age of 15, Sonny Kurmi decided to pursue a career in finance. Today, he’s a chartered financial adviser with over 14 years’ experience in the industry.

Sonny tells us about his journey from a Saturday job in a local bank to setting up his own financial advisory firm and achieving chartered status. 

What made you choose a career in financial advice?

I wanted to have a job that would bring opportunities.

When I got to see what a financial adviser job involved, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. It meant I got to talk to people – a tick for me, as I’m very sociable. With the right qualifications, I could work around the world – another tick. Plus, everyone needs financial advice at some point in their life, some more than others, so I’m always going to have a job. Tick.

Also, it pays fairly well – when it’s done properly.

Why did you decide to pursue a Level 6 qualification and chartered status?

I completed my Level 4 qualification with LIBF in 2017 then got a job working in Switzerland as a private wealth adviser. I ended up meeting one of the country’s top advisers, who was chartered himself. He had an impressive understanding of the financial markets, and I was exposed to what it actually meant to be chartered. It’s about understanding things in greater detail and advancing your studies, so you can provide a more holistic approach for clients.

We ended up having a bet as to whether I could get chartered at a younger age than he did!

How did you manage studying alongside work?

That’s the best thing about LIBF – I knew what was going to go on. I knew the weekly study material. It was structured in a flexible way that I meant if I wanted to get ahead, I could. If I fell behind, I could catch up.

It was perfect for me. It was what I needed. You’ve got to have that motivation, of course you do. But I loved the format and that’s why I’ve kept with LIBF since 2014.

What are the advantages of having a Level 6 Adv DipFA qualification?

The way I explain it is that whereas Level 4 is like looking down a road, Level 6 is more like having a panoramic view of the road and its surroundings. It enabled me to understand the more complex aspects of retirement planning, protection, investment, and tax planning.

If you don’t know the information, then how do you even know what to discuss or what to explore? That’s what Level 6 has enabled me to do. It gives you that knowledge, so when you’re sitting with a client, you’ve got that understanding. Combined with the CPD I’ve done, Level 6 means I can have these in-depth conversations with confidence.

What impact has being chartered had on your career?

It helps with my clients when I network. I became chartered in January 2020. By then, I’d also won some awards.

When I came back to the UK and started my company in March 2019 I had no clients, so I was networking. As soon as I got chartered, I could say I was a multi award-winning, chartered financial adviser.

When people asked about that, I could explain to them that I’ve studied beyond what’s required. I can give a more in-depth service – dissecting the complex areas of advice to come up with a solution for my clients.

What advice would you give to people looking to pursue chartered status?

I would say get Level 6 under your belt. Once it’s done, no one can take it away from you. It demonstrates the commitment you have to the job and enables you to stand out amongst the competition.

Invest in yourself because you are your biggest asset. People will be putting their trust – and their money – with you. So, you’ve got to show you take care of yourself, you understand the market and are up to date with everything. And you will become the best possible adviser, so clients can trust you with their wealth.

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Read more about our Level 6 Diploma in Financial Advice