One of the key aims of the RDR is improving the professionalism of the financial advice industry. Alongside the consolidation we have seen in the industry both in the run up to 1 January and after – an estimated 7,000 advisers have deregistered in the past nine months – has come a noticeable increase in the standards for those advisers remaining in the industry with a minimum Level Four qualification currently required.
Towry wealth adviser Eve Cannon is an example of what can be achieved in a relatively short space of time. Within eight years of leaving university, and six since joining Towry and starting her industry qualifications, Cannon has progressed through her qualifications and the business and in July qualified as a fellow of the Personal Finance Society. Throughout her six years at Towry she has benefited from training and development support offered by the Towry Masters Programme.
Cannon says that her introduction to financial services came straight from university.
She says: “I studied business studies at Southampton University and within my course took a personal finance module, which is what led me to discover my interest in financial planning.
“I graduated from Southampton in June 2005 with a 2:1. After university, I worked for Santander. I started as a cashier and within two months progressed to a personal banking adviser. In this role I advised clients on various banking products offered through Santander. It was while working at Santander I decided that I wanted to be a wealth adviser.”
From the start Cannon had a set development plan in place and she joined the Towry Masters Programme to help her meet her goals. The Masters Programme was set up by Towry in 2007 in response to what the company described as poor standards of training and development in the industry at the time.
“I moved to Towry in December 2006 and started in the new business team. I spoke to my manager at the time about where I saw myself in five years’ time and how I would like to be an adviser. We built a development plan around what exams I should sit and I spoke to human resources about the best career route.
“I sat my first exam (CF1) in the summer of 2007 and with assistance and training development worked my way through the CII exams to eventually achieve chartered status in July 2012, and then fellowship status in July 2013.
“The best advice I received was to sit the advance diploma exams alongside the corresponding diploma exams! This saves a lot of time in the end.”
In addition to the professional qualifications, Cannon has also been working her way steadily through the ranks at the firm.
“I moved into the client services role in April 2008 in order to support advisers. Through this I began to take advice from wealth advice managers about developing into the wealth adviser role.
“I progressed into a wealth planning role in July 2009. This enabled me to apply the technical knowledge I had learnt through taking my exams.
“I was also able to work closely with advisers to understand the thought process they go through when formulating the advice to the client.
“This process also helped me to build relationships with other areas of the business, such as the advice policy team, compliance and the investment management team.
“In October 2011 I got accepted on to the development to wealth advice programme.“This started in January 2012, with the programme’s objective to build on knowledge and confidence around how to deliver Towry advice.
“It also enabled me to attend client meetings with advisers.”
Cannon is the first employee to take the journey from CF1 to fellow of the PFS through the Towry training programme but has no plans to cap her career development here.
“I got promoted to wealth adviser on 1 January 2013. Having now achieved Fellowship Status, my next development plan will be to move from wealth adviser to senior wealth adviser to senior client partner over the next five to 10 years.”