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Carl Lamb: The RDR double-edged sword- where will new advisers come from?

The key to developing the next generation of advisers 

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One of the consequences of the RDR has been the closure of financial advice facilities in banks and the removal of face-to-face advice services from provider companies.

For the IFA market, this is a double-edged sword. On the plus side, we have an opportunity to gain new business advising those who are now set adrift without recourse to their usual advice sources but on the minus side we have lost an important training and proving ground for the advisers of the future.

Many of our existing advisers cut their teeth working for a bank or a provider company – I came to independent advice via London Life and Equitable Life. While there, I took my exams, I honed my advice skills and I became absorbed in the issues that surround the industry.

Without this important staging post, it is difficult to see how we are going to develop the next generation of advisers.

My view is that principals of firms up and down the country need to take responsibility for developing new advisers to feed into their firms over time. We have taken the bull by the horns and have set up a new graduate trainee adviser scheme which we believe is unique in East Anglia. The scheme will take in two or three graduates  a year and channel them through a bespoke training regime that will develop not only their knowledge through exam passes but a wide range of other skills and experience.

Our first two graduates have just joined us. We have selected them not only for their capacity to learn but also for their potential to develop softer skills. Listening, understanding and communication are all key elements of the good adviser. Selecting the right people has been critical. 

We want our future advisers to have the same sets of values and attitudes as those already on the team.

The training scheme is scheduled to take three years and the programme has been devised by senior adviser and current Chartered Financial Planner of the Year Hayley Tink, who will be mentoring the graduate trainees throughout the programme.

It is a fast-track and demanding programme that will require commitment and dedication from the successful graduates. Trainees will study for the relevant examinations while supporting the existing adviser team and will get a chance to see how the industry works close at hand before being launched into
an advisory role.

Our trainees have a challenge ahead if they are to meet our exacting standards. We believe that empathy, patience and tolerance are all important qualities and we hope that our chosen candidates will justify our investment in them.

However, this is not a passive investment. If we do not deliver on our promises or give them the right support, the scheme will fail.

This is another case where business leaders in the industry need to shoulder responsibilities not only to raise standards in the industry as it stands today but to ensure
it can survive and prosper in years to come.

Carl Lamb is managing director of Almary Green 

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Comments

There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I think this is really great. Well done Carl. I just wish I could afford to do the same but like many smaller adviser firms finances are still very tight.
    I think this may be a problem in the future as most advisers are now somewhat mature in years.

  2. I had to read this a few times. You train them is the answer.

    Its called investing in your business, so you want others to make the investment, train up people into the industry so they can then join your firm at no cost to you.

    Only in financial services.

  3. Going to UNI may not be the correct route, not the most cost effective for employer and employee. A bright 16 year old will get FULL funding for level 2, 3 and then 4 potentially with fully supported learning. In addition there are grants for taking apprentices on. Check out CapitalB who work in association with the CII and IFS to provide the assessment and course materials.
    If you prefer a more mature candidate, take an 18 year old with A levels and even then grants are available and the training cost is a contribution rather than full amount.
    Take on a graduate and support is limited and they are already under pressure with a student loan!

  4. After 45 yrs in this business I suggest that there has to be hope.
    I started at 21 after leaving Uni,no debt, selling savings and lump sum plans.
    Full disclosure of charges ie w hat was invested and what the insurance cost was.
    Diverse equity portfolio. Single price unit. Ie no bid offer
    AMC. Wait for it 0.25% pa
    In 1968/69 I earned £2200
    That was about twice the average grad earning.
    So what volume would an apprentice need to produce at say 2.5% max initial charge to beat the
    average ,proper degree ie not in Coronation Street , earnings in the first year whilst training.
    Seems the system is buggered.
    If only the regulators had asked some old buggers who have knowledge on how to clean up the business.
    Good luck to us all in this period of great opportunity
    Cheers
    Paul

  5. I think Karl is very brave and wish his firm every success. My own view is that nothing has changed in our industry with regards to retention of advisers/sales people. It is a very hard industry to be successful in from a standing start. There has been traditionally a far higher number of those who came in tried it and it wasnt for them (for a whole host of reasons) with the biggest one being that the candidate just wasnt cut out for a life of sales. It is no different now (please dont lambast me with the same old “we are not sales people” because, like it or not thats exactly what we all are). It may not be selling an end product but in most cases it is, it could be just selling the advice which I fully accept sometimes may to be to do nothing at the moment. Without sales all companies will fail – that is a fact and there is no getting around it. The other big reason why younger people failed more often than more mature entrants was that older clients (which, by the make up of adviser demographics is the majority of our client bank) find it very difficult to take advice on their finances from someone who may be younger than the clients children. It doesnt fit well on the whole, regardless of qualifications – this is called the human psychie. We are where we are now because of the huge numbers involved in the recruitment of the many to arrive at a small comparative number “long in the tooth advisers”. If only a small number are to come through and there is no reason to think that the percentage of failures to sucesses should be any differnt now to then, the numbers simply mean that the advice sector will dwindle and eventually die a slow death which is very very sad. I hope I can be proved wrong indeed would love to be proved wrong but I cant see it happening.

  6. I guess that is one way. But (not unexpectedly) I have a different view.

    One of my biggest bugbears in this industry (profession) is that people have either spent their whole life in it or we are recruiting straight from seats of learning. In my experience (and I would say this, wouldn’t I) the best advisers are those who have come into the business after having achieved something in another field. It gives a breadth of vision and experience so sadly lacking in the ‘lifers’ or new ingénues.

    I always try to put myself into the shoes of those on the other side of the desk. I can say with hand on heart that now and even before being in this business, I would not have entertained having an adviser in their twenties. Whether as an IFA, solicitor, accountant or stockbroker. Fine, I would happily deal with assistants of this age group – but not for advice!

    My own current situation is perhaps salutary. I well know that my sell by date is fast approaching (if I haven’t already passed it). The idea of selling up to some large outfit who will mess my clients about, provide them with a new (young?) face every three months and charge them a fortune for indifferent advice is not something I wish to contemplate. (Yes I have had plenty of approaches – all glib talkers, but really not at all suitable).

    Ideally I would like to find a well-qualified CFP or Chartered “youngster”, who is literate, numerate and has a commercial head on his/her shoulders of around 40 who has done other things (fairly successfully) other than in financial services and who works or lives within a 20 mile radius of my office – who would like to own and run their own business and really graft. (I never work less than 55 hours a week). I would gladly give the firm away to the right candidate. Do you think I can find one? Not a bloody chance.

    So my default is to write to my clients when the time comes and suggest they find another adviser. I happen to be in the fortunate position on not having to rely on the sale of my business to fund my retirement.

    So this talk of the younger generation rings very hollow with me.

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