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Law of attraction

As a recruiter in a specialised professional services industry, you have to keep a keen eye on the changing face of the workplace and regulated financial services gives you plenty to think about.

I remember writing an article for this publication about the decline and subsequent closures of many life office salesforces, which were the historical way for new entrants to become financial advisers and how were we going to continue replenishing the pool of professionals that worked in our industry.

This mantle did get taken up and some very notable companies set up graduate schemes.

Inevitably, this training ground will eventually provide highly qualified individuals who have gained experience of working within an IFA or wealth management organisation and exposure to dealing with existing clients. However, the numbers involved within these fall far short of the levels we were previously enjoying.

Despite all the positives in the retail distribution review, I am left thinking just how many of the current IFA population we are going to lose when the changes are implemented.

Raising the bar with regards to technical ability can never be a bad thing but how you administer the testing of the required skills is another thing entirely.

Many IFAs deal with a wide and often complex array of financial planning tools and I am sure their clients would verify that the results and service that they have received have been excellent.

The ability to perform always needs to be measured. Choosing to use the same method in a blanket approach in this instance lacks a certain level of practicality.

The minimum level 4 qualification for new advisers comes into force in 2010. Existing advisers must reach this level by 2012. The RDR process was started before the impact of the credit crunch and the playing field has changed.

What has not is the fact that people need financial advice more now than ever. First, we need to encourage and attract new people to the industry and, second, make sure that the people we have are encouraged to stay.

A report published by Ernst & Young in February warned that, post-RDR, we could be faced with having only 10,000 IFA firms in 2013, down from 30,000. While certain mitigating factors such as mergers/ acquisitions will account for some, the main reason for the drop is that people will be leaving our industry.

I have no doubt that the industry has advanced somewhat during the 10 years- plus that I have worked in and recruited in it but we need to keep talking about how to implement changes effectively.

David Bonnen is director of Anthony Clay Search & Selection

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