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School for new IFA generation

The continued loss of experienced advisers threatens people’s access to professional advice so Sesame has created The IFA School, with the aim of bringing in new blood and training them to a high quality

Ivan Martin, Executive chairman, Sesame Bankhall Group
Ivan Martin, Executive chairman, Sesame Bankhall Group

Developing the next generation is a perennial challenge for every industry but the issue has taken on a greater urgency for the financial advice profession as a result of the retail distribution review.

The FSA believes that the RDR will help attract high quality talent into the industry in the future but it will take time for new people to join in sufficient numbers. Meanwhile, the loss of experienced advisers in the short term threatens to reduce people’s access to impartial professional advice.

But it would be unfair to simply blame the RDR. The traditional entry route into our profession has been through
the direct salesforces run by product providers. In the last decade, this breeding ground has virtually disappeared, taking away this important part of the IFA career path. The net result is a lack of new talent coming into our profession despite consumer demand for advice being greater than ever.

So how can we bridge this advice gap and what succession plans can we put in place? Sesame Bankhall Group
began developing The IFA School in a bid to attract and nurture the next generation of modern professional advisers.

One of the immediate problems was the lack of clear entry routes for new people joining our profession. The IFA
School’s solution is to provide trainees with a career path and equip them with comprehensive virtual and face-to-face learning support in order to help them achieve the technical competence required.

This focus on soft skills works in tandem with qualifications support. Trainees get practical skills training to help them acquire business acumen and people skills to be a successful and well rounded professional. The IFA School will open its doors in 2011 with the first intake of 15 trainee advisers.

The interest we have received has been very encouraging and we expect future students to include people who are new to the profession along with some that have previous experience in financial services.

Before being accepted into The IFA School, students will be put through a robust recruitment process to assess their values, behaviours, commitment, previous experience and qualifications held.

Successful students will then go through an 18-month programme that will develop them to full competent adviser status. This will include investments, mortgages and protection permissions. The programme is aiming for students to be able to undertake basic protection advice cases within six months. Sesame Bankhall Group is aiming to develop The IFA School beyond the pilot phase to a position where hundreds
of new advisers can be recruited and trained in future years.

This is the start of a long-term initiative and we will be working closely with our members to build a vibrant and prosperous future for our profession. By placing graduates with adviser firms, The IFA School will offer our members a route to help grow their business and put succession plans in place while saving significant time and money on recruitment.

New people are the lifeblood of any profession and, at a time when overall adviser numbers are falling, the need to train and nurture a new generation of IFAs is more important than ever. Sesame Bankhall Group has been working closely with IFA firm The Chester Partnership
to develop The IFA School, reflecting the pivotal role of adviser firms in the future success of the programme.

The Chester Partnership director Steve Riddiough sums up what this means from an IFA perspective: “The IFA School presents an opportunity to make a real and lasting contribution to the way in which retail financial services are distributed in the UK. Many IFAs argue that the RDR will achieve very little in terms of long-term benefits but amid all of this uncertainty and anxiety, The IFA School manages to focus on everything that is positive about the role performed by financial advisers.

’Students will be put through a robust recruitment process in order to assess their values, behaviours and commitment’

“Much of the support currently available in the market is primarily focused on helping existing IFAs to achieve the RDR exam deadline. Meanwhile, the business skills training that has traditionally been available only covers elements of an adviser’s role and in a way that makes it very difficult for a new trainee to identify a clear path to achieve Competent Adviser Status. The IFA School recognises all the vital elements
needed and incorporates them into programme that enables new advisers to achieve their full potential as modern professional advisers.

“It is also good to see Sesame Bankhall Group acknowledging the real value its IFA customer firms can add to the way The IFA School shapes and delivers the training needed to develop new industry talent.”

To register your interest in The IFA School or to receive further information, please email


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