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Degrees of separation

James Salmon reports on the PFS’s drive to bring young graduates into the financial advice business

The Personal Finance Society is starting a major push to attract graduates into the financial advice sector.

With the average age of UK advisers over 50, PFS chief executive Mark Ommanney says the PFS is looking to address the recruitment crisis in a market that is both ageing and dwindling.

He says: “There is an urgent need to do something now. The number of advisers in the market has dropped radically from 300, 000 15 years ago to 65,000. This is not good for consumers or for UK plc. We need find some way to attract new blood and instil some sexiness into the profession.”

Ommanney says the PFS plans to hold seminars in the nine universities which run financial services courses, including Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Sheffield Hallam. The seminars will be designed to educate students about the financial advice profession and generate interest. It is also seeking advice from several adviser firms with well developed recruitment schemes to see how they fund new entrants.

The PFS is revamping its website as a key part of a 1m campaign to boost the standing of the organisation and its members among consumers. It is setting up a new search facility which is designed to give the public access to society members and help them find the type of advice they want.

A big proportion of the 1m will be channelled into an extensive multimedia advertising campaign acr- oss local radio and the press. It will also provide all members with leaflets to give to clients which is designed to tell them the benefits of dealing with a PFS member.

He says: “We are looking to get the public to start thinking, ‘I need an adviser, I need a PFS member. We need to restore trust in advisers and make them realise the value of the our organisation.”

Ommanney puts much of the blame for poor public perception of financial adv- isers on negative media coverage and believes the UK could learn from the US.

He says: “In the US, the financial adviser is deemed to be just as important as a lawyer. We need to ask ourselves why this is not the case in the UK.”

Much of this drive to enhance the reputation of advisers and the standing of the PFS aims to capitalise on the introduction of chartered financial planner status. Ommanney says this has already proved popular, with 539 of the 800 PFS members with sufficient qualifications to take the exams already qualified. The first chartered ceremony will take place on March 2.

He believes that the public clash with the Institute of Financial Planning over confusion status with its own certified financial planner qualification, has died down and he is hoping that relations will be smoother. “We have always worked closely with the IFP and will continue to do so,” he adds.

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