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Learning curve

Case study

Mark Dutton, Age 31, BA (politics/history), UNSW (Australia)

Graduate trainee financial adviser

After I left school, my plan was to join the Royal Australian Air Force as a fighter pilot and I graduated from the Australian Defence Force Academy with an Arts degree in Politics/History. But my ambition to fly F-111s was cut short by leg surgery.

I resigned from the RAAF and spent several exciting and eventful years travelling abroad and my activities included being an instructor in abseiling and rock climbing in Alabama, USA. Afterwards,I worked with Rio Tinto, the international mining and resources company, coordinating iron ore shipments into Asia and Europe. I then changed direction again and completed my qualifications to be a chef and worked in many of Melbourne&#39s five-star hotels and restaurants.

I relocated to London 18 months ago. In that time, I independently completed the FPC exams, started my AFPC studies and part finished the Australian Diploma in financial planning.

I have deferred completion of an MBA in international business because I am now too busy.

My spare-time interests include flying, scuba diving, cooking and travelling. I have recently started with an IFA firm as a graduate trainee financial adviser and I am looking forward to a very challenging and interesting career within the financial planning profession.

The Stage 2 training period and achieving financial adviser competence During the stage 2 training period, the process of training and development should continue to use the same principles of setting learning objectives and assessing pro-gress. But the range of activities and learning should be considerably widened bec-ause the trainee will now be allowed to start giving supervised financial advice.

To achieve competent adv-iser status, there must be a formal assessment of the graduate trainee. This will include achievement of the full generic knowledge examination – all three papers of the FPC or its equivalent, an adequate assessment of the required competences and acceptable performance in the role as evidenced by reaching key performance indicators.

The graduate trainee should have passed the full FPC examination within two years of joining although there is a little flexibility in the FSA rules, for example, for some periods of absence. Failure to achieve the deadline will mean that the graduate trainee can no longer continue the advisory role. The trainee should be made aware of this.

Main activities during the stage 2 training period

The main activities during the stage 2 training period are likely to include:

•Preparing and passing the remaining FPC examination papers.

•Conducting meetings with clients, which should be planned and reviewed by the supervisor/manager.

•Going on accompanied meetings with clients that are observed and assessed by the manager or another supervisor.

•Continuing the administration and paraplanner roles while this is still considered to be appropriate.

•Continuing training using private study, business-based training, external training and one-to-one meetings with the manager.

Focus on the learning content in stage 2

The knowledge, skills and attitude competences of the stage 1 training period are carried over to the stage 2 competences and they should continue to improve. As the graduate trainee is now able to start giving financial advice, the emphasis is now on developing the analysis and application skills, in particular the following:

a: Advice and analytical skills

b: Interpersonal and communications skills

c: Diagnostic skills

d: Judgemental skills

e: Explanatory skills

f: Referral skills

g: Promotional skills

Monitoring progress

This assessment will be based on:

•The FPC examination results.

•In-house tests – these can be taken from assessment services such as financialASSESS (available from the CII).

•Structured case studies – possibly based on client files.

•Observation by the manager of the graduate trainee in meetings with clients and in roleplays •Feedback from people with whom the graduate trainee has worked such as financial advisers, administrators and other managers •The key performance indicators normally used in the organisation to assess advisers&#39 performance, including income generated, number of clients seen, accuracy of work, compliance scores, quality of suitability letters.

Management in stage 2

a: Frequency of meetings and assessments

In stage 2, it rem-ains important that the manager and graduate trai-nee do not lose contact with each other. It is easy to assume that no news is good news, when in fact the grad-uate trainee is feeling unsupported. With the trainee able to give supervised advice, providing support, encouragement and feedback are important for your business as well as the progress of the individual.b: Coach and support As the trainee achieves greater competence and self-rel-iance, the manager&#39s style should change from the directional approach to coaching and supporting. The graduate should take increasing responsibility for their own performance and become even more self-reliant.

In turn, the graduate trainee should be increasingly prepared to take ownership of their work and their learning programme.

Coaching and active development

Coaching should be an increasingly important part of the manager&#39s activities to develop the graduate trainee during this phase. The aim is to improve the graduate trainee&#39s performance in a task or role and the practical model is:

Coaching and active development programme(see chart left)

a: Demonstrate the activity

The coach or some other qualified person should show the graduate trainee by example how to perform a role or task. This could either be with a client or in a roleplay.

The trainee should obs-erve carefully, take notes and then feed back to the demonstrator/ coach the key points of the session.

b: Observe the performance

The coach then observes the trainee carrying out the role or task either with a client or in a roleplay.

c: Provide feedback

The coach finally feeds back to the graduate trainee how they have performed and how they could do better. This is the most difficult part of the process.

Pathways delivers a set of practical tools comprising:

•Guidebooks for managers and trainees to explain the practical skills and knowledge that must be acquired – available online •A passport for registered trainees to record their achievements and progress. Available as an electronic log and hard-copy log, the passport provides an industry-recognised record of personal achievement •Pathways costs £130 for each new trainee in year one (including annual CII membership) reducing to £57 in subsequent years to include the cost of CII membership. The Manager&#39s Pack costs £100 •More information can be found at www.pathways.cii.co.uk or by telephoning CII Customer Services on 020 8989 8464

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