The Training & Development
The new recruit needs to be introduced into the business and start the programme of learning and development. This will be partly through formal training and education, for example, for the FPC examination. It will also be through business-based learning as a result of undertaking administration and paraplanning work. This work also means that the graduate trainees should soon make a significant economic contribution to the financial success of the organisation employing them.
Graduate trainees are sev-erely restricted in their dealings with clients until they have satisfactorily completed their stage 1 training period, which will include passing the FP1 exam or its equivalent.
In particular, the graduate trainee will not be allowed to provide any investment advice whatsoever to clients or carry out any activity with clients such as completing a fact- find or proposal form unless they are accompanied by
During this period, it will be important for the manager to keep in frequent contact with the graduate trainee, to set objectives and to review results on a continuous basis.
The induction period and the first few months of the programme establish the foundations of the traineeship. The PDC sets out the basis for the traineeship and it should be drawn up and agreed early on in the induction period.
Designing the stage 1 training programme
The learning objectives will have been set out in the Professional Development Contract (PDC). The methods of training will vary according to the trainee's learning style, capacity and rate of progress as well as the resources available to the firm.
The trainee will pick up considerable knowledge and skills in their administration and paraplanning roles, as long as the tasks are well explained and managed, with plenty of feedback from colleagues involved as well as the manager.
The following outline programme of training relates to the objectives in the PDC.
a: Knowledge competences
Passing FP1 provides the necessary evidence of generic knowledge for stage 1 although graduate trainees might be encouraged to take one or both of the other examinations at the same time.
The examinations are generally held four times a year so the stage 1 training programme should take the timing into account. The pattern of these examinations is under review as part of the overall examinations review and may well change in the near future.
Graduate trainees should be familiar with standard office computer software but they will need special training on specialist programmes used by financial advisers. This could be provided in-house or by the software providers.
Anti-money laundering training is crucial.
Obtaining quotations and carrying out product research and comparisons is probably the best way to gain a practical knowledge of the prod-ucts and solutions that the advisers use.
Product provider consultants can be a good source of free information and instruction.
Developing advice strat-egies for clients and producing viable solutions.
b: Skills competences
Analytical and advice skills
During stage 1, there should be a few opportunities to exercise analytical and advice skills although not directly with clients such as:
Working with a financial adviser is likely to prove the most useful experience.
Where possible, the trainee should accompany advisers to meetings with clients where they can listen and take notes under supervision.
Planning and organising
Administration and paraplanning provide considerable scope for graduate trainees to demonstrate their ability to work to deadlines, prioritise tasks and ask for help and extra resources when needed.
A few of the basic skills an adviser needs when dealing directly with clients will start to be developed in stage 1. There can be considerable amounts of effective training, especially in interpersonal and communications skills.
The manager and coll-eagues should encourage the trainee to explain products, strategies and services to check their understanding and explanatory skills.
Information and communications technology (ICT or just IT) has become a crucial skill and it will be essential for the trainee to develop ICT skills. They will also need to understand the specialist programme used by the firm. The trainee should start to help produce suitability letters and client reports and valuations.
c: Attitude competences
Persistence in learning and the ability to work under pressure should be well tested from the start of the induction period to the end of stage 2 and beyond.
Ethical issues must be
discussed and inculcated from the very start of the induc-
Managing the stage
programme and assessing progress
The manager should try to gauge how much contact is needed during the initial month or two, later on in the programme as the trainee grows in competence. The type of contact and the style of management may change as the graduate trainee develops. The aim should be to:
Review learning activities and progress since the last meeting.
Identify gaps and shortcomings from the assessment.
Prioritise next learning areas.
Plan future learning activities with specific objectives.
The end of the stage
The stage 1 training per-iod ends when the graduate trainee has at least passed the FP1 examination and been assessed as competent in the other knowledge, skills and attitudes competences. The graduate trainee can then be signed off by an appropriately senior person in the organisation as “competent to advise under supervision”.
There should be a full formal review of the trainee's progress at the sign-off or before six months have elapsed if that is earlier. The review should include feedback from the graduate trainee and should cover:
Progress to date.
Strengths and weaknesses.
How the programme could be improved.
Whether the goal of becoming a financial adviser for the graduate trainee is still appropriate and, if not, what action to take.
Introduce the concept of open and honest feedback to the graduate trainee as early as possible. It will help speed up development.
Involve other people in the organisation in designing and implementing the induction programme, for example, HR and administrative staff, front and back-office employees, other managers.
Make the training and other activities in the stage 1 period as varied as possible, otherwise there is a danger that boredom may set in.
Give the trainee a copy of the full programme so it is clear how each component fits into the overall programme.
Always end meetings with setting the date of the next meeting.
Set up a group of graduate trainees at other financial advisory firms. This can be particularly valuable where the employing business is small.
Share the training burden with other firms which have recruited graduate trainees.