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The role of an investment advisor

An investment adviser gives advice to clients about investing in securities such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or exchange traded funds. Some investment advisers manage portfolios of securities.

Other terms that investment advisers use to describe themselves include investment counsel, investment manager, asset manager, wealth manager, money manager,  or portfolio manager.

Nic Sephton-Poultney, Country Manager at Robert Walters says, "It's important to differentiate between an investment adviser (i.e. asset management and private client portfolio management) and wealth management which includes looking at the client's tax and trusts as well as life cover etc. Particularly in wealth management, the opportunities to run you own brokerage overtime become very attractive."

What does the role involve?

Investment advisers will have a variety of clients they give advice to on a daily basis. Clients fall into two broad categories:

Investment advisers will have a variety of clients they give advice to on a daily basis


  • Individuals which includes: individuals, trusts, families, and groups of families.
  • Institutions which includes: corporations, private pension plans, public pension plans, educational institutions, endowments, foundations, mutual funds, hedge funds, investment partnerships and other pooled accounts, banking institutions, and governments.

As an investment adviser you will use a number of different investment styles and strategies, such as growth or value. Some investment advisers specialise in investments in stocks / equities or in bonds / fixed income, while others manage portfolios that consist of investments in stocks, bonds, and cash.

Some advisers shape investment portfolios for each client. Other advisers stick to one or more centrally managed portfolio that reflect a specific investment strategy, style, or model. Clients sometimes retain several advisers with different investment strategies and styles to diversify their portfolios.

What skills do I need to make a good investment adviser?

Excellent communication and listening skills: Investment advisers will need to build close relationships with their clients to really understand their financial goals. You will need to know when they will need to use their money, and what they will be using it for. 

Strong finance and analytical skills: To give good advice an investment adviser 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 adviser will use this data to analyse existing investments, and make recommendations about what the client should do going forward.

Organisational skills and the ability to manage time: As a good investment adviser you will know where all your client's investments are so their portfolio makes sense. Otherwise you may end up owning the same type of investments in different accounts. 

Why choose to be an investment adviser?

The job can be very rewarding. If you are people-orientated  and enjoy developing relationships with clients you will help them to achieve their financial goals by offering guidance, financial solutions and the best possible service.

How much can I expect to earn as an investment adviser in South Africa?

Your earning potential can vary depending on the number of clients you have. Investment  advisors  are paid in the following ways:

  • A percentage of the value of the assets you manage for your client
  • An hourly or fixed fee
  • A commission on the securities sold
  • A combination of the above.

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