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Lisa Winnard: Looking to the future with younger recruits

The shortage of new blood in financial services is a familiar story but there is a large and relatively untapped supply of school and college leavers who are looking for opportunities.

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As we move into 2014 and start to renew our objectives and set new challenges for the year ahead, nothing should be more pressing for the financial services industry than working out how we collectively tackle the issue of developing a healthy succession pipeline. 

Over the past five years, we have repeatedly heard that fewer young people are joining our industry. Fewer young people see financial services as a profession of choice, partly due to the reputational damage that the industry suffered following the banking crisis.

This leaves us with a myriad of issues and challenges as we develop future generations of workers to drive forward the industry. This is also true for the advice sector, with concerns that we are storing up future issues and a growing ‘advice gap.’

Against this backdrop, it was alarming to see the headlines that emerged at the beginning of January when a study for The Prince’s Trust claimed that as many as three quarters of a million young people in the UK felt that they had nothing to live for. The trust also found that almost a third of long-term unemployed young people have even contemplated taking their own lives.

The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth index was based on interviews with 2,161 16 to 25-year-olds. Of these, 281 were classified as Neet (not in employment, education or training) and 166 of these Neets had been unemployed for over six months.

While the Government says it will do all it can, the financial services industry also needs to do more to look at providing clearer entry routes into roles across our industry.

My role at SBG involves running The Financial Adviser School and we regularly see young people with great expectations and aspirations coming out of college and university but who are struggling to get into work due to a lack of experience. This and similar initiatives are critical to giving young people – and others with no experience – access to existing advisers, mentors and practical development to allow them to train as financial advisers.

And what do young people think about this? This is what one of our students on the programme, 18 year old Jordan Hagan, had to say about the findings from The Prince’s Trust survey:

“We see the struggle people have gone through as they finish university and are unable to find jobs in either their preferred field of work, or any job at all. This does make you think of what chances there are for us. I am now on track to work in my desired field of work, which not everyone gets the chance to do.” 

We have had the opportunity to work with many students who, without the right support and sponsorship, would not have been able to fulfil their own aspirations to become an adviser. This gives us something positive to build on and as an industry we should be doing more to encourage young people to look at opportunities in financial services.

Lisa Winnard is HR director at Sesame Bankhall Group

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