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