On April 7, the Personal Finance Society held its annual graduation ceremony to celebrate the achievement of members attaining the advanced diploma in financial planning, leading to associateship of the PFS, the chartered financial planner title and fellowship. These are degree-level professional qualifications and successful candidates have every right to be proud of their achievements.
More than 500 PFS members attained one of the above designations in 2010, bringing the total of members qualified to degree level to more than 2,750.
With a further 9,000 studying for the advanced diploma, our profession is growing fast and this in turn is fuelling an increased consumer awareness of chartered financial planners, the CII and PFS. Indeed, during the last few weeks, both BBC Radio 4 and Money Box have featured CII representatives.
It is wonderful to see the level of commitment from existing practitioners but there remains the challenge of attracting new entrants.
There is considerable activity taking place in both the promotion of financial planning as a career of choice and the development of support programmes to assist firms willing to take on a trainee. The emergence of dedicated financial planning degrees is very welcome but it will take time to produce numbers that will make an impact.
Meanwhile, we need to look at graduates from other disciplines, talented school-leavers, casualties of the economic squeeze and mid-life job-changers. There are no barriers to entry, provided individuals have the desire, ability and commitment.
Two things are essential if we are to attract new talent. First is how we portray the role of a financial planner to potential new entrants and second, what we do to support both the trainee and the firm that recruits them.
Since 2008, the CII and PFS have delivered more than 100 presentations at universities throughout the country. More than 2,500 students have attended these sessions that are run by PFS members.
Like many of you, these financial planners are passionate about their profession and are able to describe both what the role involves on a day-to-day basis and also the benefits and rewards that a career in financial planning can bring.
Later this year, we will be launching new school activity to educate year 12 and 13 students about financial planning.
With regard to support for firms looking to recruit new talent, we are well on the way to developing a programme that will provide hands-on material to help the firm and trainees.
The toolkit will cover everything from advice on recruitment through to a personal development plan for the trainee. The material can be used for all new entrants irres-pective of age, background and experience.
Whether con-sidering succession planning or growth, new advisers can help you build a sustain-able business for the future and the PFS will be there to help you every step of the way.
Fay Goddard is chief executive of the Personal Finance Society