I frequently get emails from my podcast listeners about how to become an adviser. I find it encouraging they are inspired by my evangelicalism about what we do and are considering joining our ranks.
But when I start to reply to them, I find my heart sinking a little, because it is bloody hard to get a foot in the door of our profession.
I usually recommend they sit the CII Diploma of Regulated Financial Planning. Most likely they will have to do this in their own time and out of their own pocket, which will cost thousands of pounds. They may find a forward-thinking firm with a training scheme but they are few and far between.
I spoke to someone with extensive knowledge of the qualification frameworks of the different bodies and, in her view, the CII is the only one that cuts the mustard. Those of us who have sat a CII exam know the curriculum is pretty dry, especially if you are not learning and applying the knowledge on the job.
Even if someone approaches an advice firm with the qualifications under their belt, not many can afford to take on a trainee adviser with no clients of their own and who contributes nothing to the top line.
In the last three months, I have recruited a 24-year-old graduate, who put herself through the Diploma before coming to us, and she is already transforming our outlook.
She eats the work we give her for breakfast. In three months she has become a Voyant ninja, has mastered FE Analytics and various other software tools and is already drafting suitability reports for clients, which are then completed by the advisers.
Demi (for that is her name) joined us as a trainee paraplanner, and is very keen to become a financial planner. She is aware she is young and inexperienced and that it will be a while before she is ready to advise. But she is already getting to know our clients and shows an empathy and sensitivity way beyond her years. At the rate she is going, she will have joined the board of the company before too long.
I am counting my blessings she approached us at just the right time. I am also planning a career path for her such that she never wants to leave.
But how many other firms can offer a home for young prospective advisers like we can? And why are we not marketing ourselves as a profession worthy of consideration for the new advisers we desperately need?
Our professional bodies need to be much better at spreading the word about what we do, and every single adviser should be shouting about it wherever they can. Every firm that can afford to do so could consider taking on and training a new adviser. Not for altruistic purposes but for the health of your own business into the future.
I have joined the Enterprise Adviser Network and committed a couple of days a term to go into local secondary schools to work with the careers officers. This is a national initiative and I urge you to consider it, for the future of our profession.
We need a cohesive career path for people wanting to join our ranks and we need a strong marketing initiative to spread the word. Who’s with me?
Pete Matthew is managing director of Jacksons Wealth Management