With the average age of a financial adviser today estimated at between 45 and 55, the need for new blood is greater than ever.
The profession is starting to pay more attention to young financial advisers, but what is life really like on the ground for those who fall well below the average age of a planner? And how we can overcome the obstacles to young advisers’ career development?
In the second part of our series Diary of a Young Adviser, Money Marketing speaks to fresh planning talent on how the industry treats the next generation of advisers and about their personal experiences of coming up through the ranks.
The overriding feeling is that there are many positives to being a young adviser, such as the support groups emerging across the industry to foster new talent.
But in some cases there have also been daily struggles in dealing with sceptical clients and older advisers, which have deterred them from pursuing a career in the profession. So what have these three encountered…?
Ross Lambert, financial planning manager, Mazars
My experience as a young adviser has definitely been positive. I’m lucky because the firm I work for is very supportive of young advisers – they realise we are enthusiastic and keen to progress.
Young advisers don’t have any bad habits so can be moulded by a firm’s suggestions; you’re quite malleable in that sense.
Being young also benefits firms thanks to your knowledge of technology. This means that you’re much quicker and more efficient which is really valuable.
I think the prejudice against young advisers is more in our minds than the clients’ minds. I’ve certainly had clients say to me: “Oh isn’t it good that you’re young because once I’m retired you’ll still be working and you’ll be able to look after me all the way through.”
Maybe you do have to prove yourself more than an older or more senior member of the team, but I haven’t had any issues with older advisers. After I qualified at Level 4, I spent a couple of years shadowing one of our older advisers and she was fantastically helpful.
A lot of people are interested to hear about how different people do things regardless of their age.
I think the support offered to young advisers varies from firm to firm. We run a graduate scheme, so are very used to having young people around and our culture is very supportive of them. If you are the only young adviser, that would be a different experience.
Andy Butcher, Hampstead branch principal, Raymond James
I really enjoy my work as a young adviser. I don’t think age plays a huge part in being able to do a good job – I certainly haven’t found it an obstacle with fellow advisers or an issue in dealing with any of my clients.
In fact, some clients have even said to me that it’s a good thing that I’m young, because I’m not just going to retire or sell my company in a couple of years.
Young advisers can certainly contribute to a firm – their willingness to keep learning is key, especially with all the changes in legislation. It changes every couple of months, and the younger you are, the more recent studying is a huge help, both to you and your older colleagues. Paying attention to legislation and doing exams isn’t really a chore because you’re used to it.
Young people are naturally more adaptable and they have fresh ideas to bring into the industry.
What I’d like to see would be more young people getting into the industry – it’s harder to go out and do your own thing nowadays. The regulatory costs are now so great that it’s difficult for young people to start up their own firms.
However, the future of the profession is looking quite bright. There’s good support across the industry in terms of bringing people up through the ranks.
The industry does a significant amount to help young advisers, and there is quite a lot of material and conferences available for the younger generations.
Stefan Fura, senior partner, Furnley House
Being an adviser is a very rewarding, varied and challenging career. But, as a young adviser you are definitely in the minority.
I would argue my position as a young adviser made me more able to do my job properly – that is to ask the right questions and establish the client’s aims and objectives without any of my prejudices or personal views of retirement.
I think the key benefit that young advisers bring to a firm is sustainability. Especially with the new pension freedoms, clients are making a commitment to invest these funds for the next 20 or 30 years. If they’re talking to a 58-year-old adviser they’re not stupid; they know that adviser’s not going to be around in 20 years’ time.
But with sustainability it’s about being able to say we’re going to be on this journey with you and help you through that journey. Having young advisers creates a legacy for the firm and a succession plan for the business.
I think with clients it depends on how you approach it. The elephant in the room is that you’re talking to people significantly older than you, with significantly more life experience about key decisions that they’re going to need to make. But I haven’t faced any difficulties with older clients. It’s an issue with a client if you let it become an issue; your age is just a number.
I could be sitting in the room with 20 years more life experience, but that doesn’t mean that my views of the world will be the same as the client’s. In terms of experience, seeing as the new pension freedoms have only been around for three years, I could be 20 years older but I’d still only have three years’ experience with the new legislation.
The beauty of constantly changing legislation is that we’re all in the same boat.
We focus too much on where we’re going to get the advisers of the future from, and I think it’s about creating an industry not creating a job. Our industry needs new paraplanners and new administrators in addition to advisers. It’s about creating an attractive profession, and then creating those internal pathways whereby paraplanners and administrators with talent can become advisers.