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Should advisers ‘adopt’ an undergraduate?

peopleThe industry needs to do more to bring in more younger advisers

Promoting financial advice as an attractive career to younger people underpins many things important for the future, such as succession planning and moving from an industry to a profession.

Some advisers do their bit by taking on apprentices and may run graduate trainee programmes for those who have decided on such a career. But do we need a broader approach, perhaps reaching out to undergraduates? 

Hale & Company independent wealth manager Haresh Raghwani volunteers as a professional mentor at City University in London, his old university. His mentee is an economics undergraduate who expressed an interest in a financial services career and applied to the university’s mentor programme.

The university matched the student to Raghwani, who built a career in corporate banking before he became an adviser 18 months ago. Raghwani is now showing his mentee there are options other than asset management or investment banking. 

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As well as dispelling the myths about advice among the younger generation, Raghwani believes undergraduate mentoring schemes can help to bring in more advisers under 35.

“I am a firm believer in getting people into the industry that we can train and who can develop a career path because there are not enough young advisers coming through,” he says. 

Raghwani was asked to commit just a few hours a month to the mentoring scheme and arranges meetings with his mentee at times when he already needs to be in London.

“I speak to my mentee on the phone, we meet up once a month and I set him tasks, such as researching the different qualifications in the industry and the different routes for advisers – independent or restricted. He has spent a day shadowing me and I’ve brought him to meetings and providers’ CPD events,” he says. 

Making the jump from coaching to mentoring

“When I went to a Chartered Insurance Institute event last year they were talking about all advisers having a responsibility to promote our industry to the public. There have been so many misselling scandals that people are wary of advisers and still think of us as sales people. But we need to be seen a profession, on the same standing as solicitor.”

In the experience of Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment deputy head of financial planning Jacqueline Lockie, many of the advisers of the future are growing in areas beyond financial services courses.

“We know from graduates that end up in the financial planning arena that they gain their basic skills and disciplines of asking questions, researching data, presenting facts in a coherent way and then coming to conclusions from their degree but many do not have financial or accountancy backgrounds. Two of the most prominent financial planners I know have degrees in geology,” she says. 

She thinks it would be more useful if planning firms were able to offer internships for those who really want to find out what financial planning is. “It is a process that you need to experience – their own lightbulb moment,” she says. Lockie also thinks more financial careers education in schools could encourage more undergraduates to consider a closer look at the sector.

Chris-Daems-against-stone-wall-in-2014-700.jpgAdviser view: Chris Daems, director, Cervello Financial Planning 

Financial planning is an incredibly rewarding career and encouraging both graduates and apprentices into our profession is a win from all sides. Not only does it provide us with great people to help grow our business, it also provides individuals with access to a profession in which someone can build a pretty decent career and that makes a difference to people’s lives.

It’s fair to say mentoring takes some effort. Bringing young people with limited planning experience into the business means the learning curve can often be pretty steep. Over the longer-term, however, such an investment will pay off in a big way. 

Adviser view: Tim Harvey, managing director, H R Independent Financial Services

Mentoring an undergraduate is like the stage I was at years ago with our paraplanner, Andy, who is currently doing his apprenticeship. He had no association with financial services and got a lot of initial work experience with us. I love helping people but I have to earn a living so Andy had to earn his keep. I started him off stuffing leaflets into envelopes and doing things like that.

I can see how wheeling undergraduates into client meetings might work for some people but should we all ‘adopt’ an undergraduate? They should be out getting work experience because if they are prepared to go out and do something, it shows there is a spark – and that needs to be encouraged. 



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  1. I might be me but this is a bit of a strange article considering, what we are and what we do ?

    I refer to, the fact we work in and environment where there is reward for your investment and the naked truth is, our clients seek it from us and we seek it for ourselves.

    I believe and IMHO, taking on any person, let alone a graduate, from a standing start will take at least 10 years for them to be a “stand on your own two feet” IFA…… a massive (risky) investment just think of the support, the time, the effort and money you will have to, and be willing to give ?

    Knowing full well 99.9% (well very high percentage) of new entrants will be job hoppers, I have lost count of my peers who have taken people on (an not just new entrants) invested time, money and provided clients only to see them move on after a short time.

    Being realistic you could expect a person to move jobs in the first 10 years 3 or 4 times…. personally I moved twice and the third was to go it alone…..

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