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Quest for quality

Make new entrants the financial planners of tomorrow

As a new era app-roaches for our industry, much of the attention appears to be focused on those with exit strategies, casting a shadow on the bright new entrants that are slowly filtering through. Being a “new model” financial planner entering 2010 is as promising as that of any shadow cabinet minister.

Four years ago, I resisted the draw of accounting – a somewhat natural prog-ression from my studies in economics and finance, opting for a career as a financial planner in personal finance and wealth management instead. Perhaps then this was bucking the trend – apart from the odd bank graduate scheme, I recall no other graduates within my circles heading this way. Perhaps this was due to the lack of access-ible inroads into the industry.

Moving on a few years, I am pleased with my decision and believe the prospect of being a chartered financial planner holds as much opportunity as professions such as law and accounting. The introduction of chartered status itself was a great step forward as this gives us similar status with other professions. The minimum QCA level 4 requirements gives an element of protection to the industry and should be welcomed with open arms.

The new-look adviser must have an array of skills to offer, attention to detail and a feel for numbers, coupled with interpersonal skills and likeability. There are not too many professions that can boast such high prerequisites. For those who do have the ability and desire, the benefits will be there for all to see.

My one concern is the natural in roads to the industry at present. For a business to commit to training a new recruit from graduate level demands considerable resource. From my own experience, the industry lacks the manage-ment programmes and skills necessary to develop the quality we can attract.

Firms must assess risk v reward of such candidates but at the moment the poten-tial training costs risk excee-ding the benefits for the spon-soring firm unless we follow the contractual legal trainee model or explore alternatives to ensure advisers stay with the firm after training.
I hope we embrace the changes ahead as I believe they will have the desired effect and lead to high quality financial planners. This has to be great news for the consumer, the planner and all involved. But in order to capitalise on the changes, the industry must look to harness the skills and the ambition of new entrants into the business so they can become the successful finan-cial planner of tomorrow.

Christopher Sheppard is an IFA with Parkgate Financial Solutions

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