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Academy rewards

Origen has introduced a training programme to develop more IFAs

The IFA market is an extremely competitive one and Origen is no exception when it comes to recruiting experienced, quality staff. By the end of this year alone, it aims to raise the number of RIs to 165.

But it’s no easy task. Well-qualified and experienced consultants are becoming harder to find. This is an interesting dilemma as far as the retail distribution review is concerned. There is a natural business preference to only recruit experienced consultants but we are taking a different stance by developing potential consultants through recruitment of trainees, thereby supporting the profession for the future.

We recognise that there is a need to encourage more people to take up a career as a professional IFA. That is why we are introducing the Origen Academy, a fasttrack programme aimed at people who have the capability to be an IFA but need structured training to achieve this. The academy is aimed at graduates, paraplanners and sales support staff who want to move into the consultant and advisory arena.

To recruit good quality consultants, we have looked at different ways of attracting the right candidates. The industry is male-dominated and with just 22 per cent of our consultants being female, we are keen to see more women in consultant roles in the company.

The introduction of flexible working and home-based working arrangements will hopefully make the company a more attractive proposition.

The company also recognises the need to develop its managers. Recently, it invested in a dedicated learning and development function to look at the development of all staff, including the support teams. Origen’s compliance team ensures its consultants are not only competent but that the development work they do is focused on technical knowledge and process skills enhancements. The new learning and development function is now working with the compliance team to ensure Origen develops its staff and gives them the skills to adapt to the changing environment and prepare them for future changes such as RDR.

Line managers attend a professional management programme run in conjunction with Henley Management School and parent company Aegon. The company is already introducing a new performance management system with full training for line managers, who will conduct appraisals for all staff by the end of the year.

Like the rest of the IFA community, Origen is eagerly awaiting clarification of the RDR and the move towards chartered status for professional financial planners. In the meantime, it is important to continue to provide full financial support for staff who want to take qualifications relevant to their role. The professional development scheme has provided support in this way for many years and continues to be a major part of our learning and development programme.

There is a mass of financial information around but people need education to be able to understand it. We have found that teaching people to understand money not only gives them the ability to achieve financial independence but it is also a good way of giving them underlying confidence.

The consultants Origen will be developing through its new academy will be ideally placed to develop their career linked to its individual, SME, large corporate or specialist propositions as well as potentially progressing from primary adviser roles to eventually become professional financial planners.

Stephen Greenstreet is managing director of Origen

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