A lot of financial planning firms are relatively small by way of number of employees. One of the challenges faced by a business owner is to ensure staff are supported to develop and improve. Having an individual training plan for each employee can be helpful in focusing on agreed technical learning, as well as skills development.
There are lots of ways for staff to stay up to date and gain new knowledge through conferences, exams and associated training courses.
Seeking credible, online learning is also important. Bear in mind what Tim Berners-Lee recently wrote about the 25th anniversary of his invention of the worldwide web: that one of the biggest threats to this global, ever expanding platform is the large amount of misinformation included on sites.
It is worth thinking of your business structure when planning for future staff development. For example, some firms set up their team of paraplanners linked to work with specific clients; others link them to work alongside specific advisers. If an adviser streamlines their client bank, clients can find themselves being looked after by another.
There are pros and cons of both set ups. From a client point of view, they like the idea of one person to contact. In some cases it may be the planner that has the long-term relationship but in others the paraplanner will be the best contact.
Meanwhile, workflow issues can sometimes arise where paraplanners specialise in different technical areas. This then means them helping other paraplanners build plans for other clients and can cause time management issues.
What is important is that there is some continuity of client relationship and overall monitoring of workflows to ensure all paraplanners feel well supported and able to use their skills to the best of their abilities.
When developing staff training plans it is also worth considering the apprenticeship schemes. Remember that these schemes, and the all-important Government funding for them, can be used to help up-skill existing members of staff as long as they are learning a new skill.
The advice firm will need to register for apprenticeship funding via www.gov.uk/guidance/manage-apprenticeship-funds. If you have fewer than 50 employees, you can apply for the Government to pay 90 per cent of the cost of the training . It can be a great way to help existing staff learn new skills, increase knowledge and build their confidence.
There are both paraplanner and financial advice apprenticeships. In order to make use of the funding you need to link up with an authorised training provider via https://findapprenticeshiptraining.sfa.bis.gov.uk . Training providers now offer a range of products and tools to help you run a successful apprenticeship programme, so if you decide to go down this route, meet with a couple to see what they have to offer.
Jacqueline Lockie is deputy head of financial planning at the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment