Want to become a financial planner? The industry is responding

Want to become a financial planner? The industry is responding

The financial planning sector has long been facing a major issue; where does the next generation of advisers come from? Director of Financial Services, Andy Taylor, suggests there is greater hope than ever…

Those of a certain vintage will have joined the industry when firms such as the Prudential, Allied Dunbar and Co-Op would recruit trainees with no prior experience and train them to become financial advisers. With their demise, it was the banks who largely filled the void, recruiting thousands of individuals and providing the training and support needed for individuals to achieve Competent Adviser Status. This gave countless people the springboard to either move up within the banking world or make the transition into the independent financial advice sector.

But the Retail Distribution Review signalled significant challenges for the banks, ones which, in the main, they were unable to respond to. Thousands of advisers were made redundant from their retail divisions and whilst banks do retain financial planners today, they exist in much reduced numbers. The need for banks to train and develop their own staff therefore diminished significantly and suddenly, the industry as a whole faced a major issue.

That is not to say that the independent advice community had not supported those wishing to become advisers, particularly in-house paraplanners with the ability and desire to move into a client facing role. This is something that many continue to do today. But with most IFA firms being relatively small any demand for new advisers was low and certainly not at the scale needed to keep the sales arms of banks functioning.

Subsequently, recruitment firms such as ours were largely unable to help talented, Level 4 qualified individuals who wished to become financial planners, aside from encouraging those who were not already paraplanners to pursue this path in the hope it would provide them with the chance to be so. However, there were still no guarantees of any individual’s ambitions being matched, certainly within a reasonable time period. Frustration reigned supreme.

At last though it feels as though the situation is changing. Academies such as those run by St James’s Place and Old Mutual have helped and now a number of national organisations such as Chase de Vere, Succession and Tilney have started to offer greater hope. Such firms are increasingly open to recruiting Level 4 qualified trainees from a paraplanning, mortgage/protection advice and account management background, offering employed packages, managerial support and genuine long-term prospects.

One of our clients, an award winning national IFA, has really seen the benefits of this approach. In the North West, two of their current best performers were not previously financial planners, but a protection adviser and paraplanner respectively. They exhibited all the attributes one needs to be a good planner but lacked the opportunity to do so until this well-resourced firm supported them. Full of energy and eager to learn, such consultants have made a really strong start and in return our client has happy, focused individuals working for them, appreciative of the chance afforded to them and incredibly loyal to the brand.

For companies there are pitfalls. Talent spotting is not as easy as recruitment based on past performance, and there is always the risk that having spent time and money on training someone they move to another company that reaps the rewards. But in practice this happens very rarely. As touched upon above, most individuals respect the opportunity they were given and remain loyal to the firm accordingly.

For candidates, the hope is that where the nationals lead, regional firms will begin to follow, leading to a more uniformed approach to financial planner development in the way that there is for those clients facing individuals within the legal, accountancy and investment management arenas. For all the talented, hungry, diploma qualified individuals hoping to further their career as advisers, such developments cannot happen soon enough.

For more information on the options available to you, please contact Andy Taylor or Robert Perry on 0161 9736900 or recruit@exchange-street.co.uk. Exchange Street have a number of opportunities across the UK available to individuals who are Level 4 qualified and eager to become financial planners and we would welcome speaking with you.