The Professional Development Contract
The aim of the PDC is to set out the graduate trainee's and the employer's commitments and plans for the two main stages of the traineeship before the trainee achieves competent adviser status.
It should be helpful in concentrating both parties on their mutual obligations and expectations. The document will be agreed between the trainee and their manager within the first few weeks of employment.
The employer should consider the company's policy on such matters as paid and unpaid study leave for taking the FPC, the number of times a graduate trainee will be allowed to sit each examination and the policy towards paying for entry to the examination, study materials and training courses.
Structure of the PDC
Employers will want to draw up their own PDC but the following can be used as a basis for the main headings. The document should set out the names of the employer and graduate trainee and the start date. There should normally be four main parts to the PDC:
The graduate trainee's undertakings.
The employer's undertakings.
The outline development programme for stage one – when the trainee cannot give any advice to clients.
The outline development programme for stage two – when the trainee can give advice under close supervision.
The timescale for achieving the various steps in the PDC should be set in the document and would be dependent on the capabilities of the individual graduate trainee and the employer's expectations.
Using the PDC
The manager should use the PDC and the benchmark competences as the basic documents for planning the grad- uate trainee's learning programme.
The PDC will be the main reference for charting the trainee's progress and will be reviewed during meetings with the manager.
The purpose of the PDC should therefore be fully explained and understood by the trainee as providing a checklist of development in specific areas for:
Other training, for example, by outside providers.
Assessment across several subjects and in specialist topics.
Creating and implementing an induction programme
Induction programmes are bound to vary according to the capacities of the trainee and the circumstances of the business.
a: Purpose of induction
The main aims of the induction period are to:
Ensure that the new graduate trainee's first few weeks run smoothly and are constructive.
Help the graduate trainees understand their role and how it fits into the company's business.
Agree the PDC with the graduate trainee.
In bigger businesses, where there are often several graduate trainees, there may be a formal group induction. Smaller firms tend to have less structured programmes.
b: Designing the induction
An in-house induction programme for new graduate trainees is likely to cover both a company induction and a personal induction.
Where possible, this process should be supported by papers/lists/directories.
The following is a checklist:
A guide to finding their way around the business – email, phone systems, map, staff directory, etc.
A summary of the company background, culture and ethical values – mission statement, code of conduct.
Business plans and aims of the business – brochure, business plan document, departmental business plan, com- pany results.
A summary of the main human resources issues – staff guidebook, health and safety guidelines, list of employee benefits (who qualifies, how to apply, etc).
Company policies on subjects such as holiday entitlements, study leave, confidentiality, internet usage, normal expected working hours, etc.
In big organisations, company inductions often include a series of visits to relevant departments. This is particularly useful in allowing the graduate trainee to build a number of contacts in the organisation. But allowing the trainee to become involved in real work and to take on specific tasks and responsibilities will give them the best opportunity to build on these initial contacts.
Personal induction is likely to be by far the larger element of the induction process.
Much of the personal induction process is best done through a series of one-to-one meetings between the trainee, the manager and other staff.
Some of the main elements of the personal induction process are likely to be:
An in-depth explanation of the graduate trainee role (including the job description).
Discussions of how the graduate trainee's role fits in with the company's business plan – growth, succession planning, etc.
Introductions to key individuals in the business.
Agreeing expectations with both manager and mentor.
Professional issues, for example, industry standards, code of practice, etc.
Making an initial assessment of the graduate trainee's likely speed of progress and learning style.
Agreeing the professional development contract with a possible timescale.
Draw up a draft PDC
Produce benchmark competences profiles based on the PDC Decide on the timescale that is appropriate for the graduate trainee for each stage Use the PDC as a basis for planning and monitoring the graduate trainee's development Case study
Martin Bamford, BA (Hons) MSFA, AIFP
Independent Financial Adviser
I am an independent financial adviser based in Surrey and have progressed through my career rapidly so far in terms of experience and qualifications.
I enjoy my advisory work and looking at wider financial services industry issues.
I graduated with a 2:1 in Business Administration in 2000 from King Alfred's College, Winchester. It was always my intention to follow a career in financial services and I started my career at NPI in its graduate training scheme.
After six months' experience across various types of work, I passed my FPC examinations 1, 2 and 3 within three months and took on my first sales role as a telephone account executive. This involved helping independent financial advisers and selling them the benefits of NPI's products.
Six months later, I decided that I wanted to progress my career and level of responsibilities further and I joined Standard Life as a broker consultant, visiting independent financial advisers in their offices. This gave me valuable face-to-face selling experience.
At the same time, I started to study for my AFPC, taking full advantage of the excellent training available from Standard Life.
The AFPC is a challenging qualification. Initially, I underestimated the level of study required because I was over-confident and I was unsuccessful at my first attempt of an AFPC paper.
Twelve months on, I was a practising IFA.I have passed the AFPC papers in taxation and trusts (G10), and three specialist pension papers (G60, K10 and K20) and I have now been awarded my AFPC.
I believe that one of the keys to my success has been my ability to apply the theory when dealing with clients. I am someone who enjoys learning, and I see it as an important part of my continuing personal development. I intend to continue with my studies by taking an MBA in the near future. This will widen my business knowledge and skills, and the CII will give me credit for the degree towards my associateship of Sofa and ultimately chartered status.