Finding a way of getting new blood into the business of financial advice has been an issue for many years but an initiative from St James’ Place has opened a new avenue for advisers looking to ensure business continuity.
Children of St James’s Place partners who want to take over their family’s SJP practice will soon be able to get a helping hand with a place on the wealth manager’s Next Generation training programme, which goes live in October.
It is a two-year apprenticeship based on SJP’s existing academy for second careerists, but differs in equipping children or other close relatives to eventually take over their family’s SJP practice.
The first year will provide competency training while the second year is more vocational, with candidates working at their family’s SJP practices. There will typically be 12 to 20 academy places available for each intake.
St James’s Place Academy director Adrian Batchelor says the intention was to get new blood into the industry while ensuring continuity for clients, who may be reassured at knowing their adviser’s children will carry on the business in future. He says it was important to set up such an initiative, as the firm’s existing training academy was designed for people setting up their own SJP practices rather than joining an existing one.
He says: “We had a lot of interest from existing St James’s Place partners who said they would like to bring their son or daughter in to their business. We looked at the standard academy program and felt that it was not right for them so we decided to build a sons and daughters academy. The programme itself is built around professional qualifications and allows us to bring through people who haven’t got the qualifications and experience. They are typically people in their twenties who see great career opportunities within the family business and in the financial services industry.”
The application process is based on the individual rather than age criteria and family relationships. “I think on the first programme all but one of the candidates is a son or daughter – there is one nephew. During the initial application process we look at why the person wants to do it along with the particular attributes and characteristics that the person is likely to need.
“The ability to build relationships is at the heart of what it’s all about. It’s about face to face advice, providing a good service in looking after the client. Parents will ask their sons or daughters are they sure about it and what are their longer term plans, so they do think carefully about this.”
Candidates will study for QCF level four and also undergo SJP’s own training process so that they understand the products and services offered by SJP practices.
Batchelor explains that having close relatives in the industry does not necessarily mean candidates arrive at the academy with prior knowledge and experience.
He says: “Some people will have worked with their mum and dad for a year in admin or a general role. Some come in with a view to developing into advisers and others will not have taken any interest until now.”
Another important element in the training programme is the opportunity to mix with others in a similar situation.
“One of the things we are looking to do at the academy is spending time with peer groups. Four or five sons and daughters will get together with their parents so they understand how their mum or dad runs a business and see how other partners do it slightly differently.”
Batchelor believes the RDR is a factor behind wealth management and financial advice being seen by young people as an attractive career option.
“There are minimum standards that you need for it and one of the influential factors might be that it’s now seen as a profession, like an accountant. A lot of young people are very keen – maybe they wouldn’t have considered a career in financial services before.”