With less than 100 days until the deadline of the retail distribution review, we will move into 2013 with new changes, a refreshed set of knowledge and qualifications evidenced by all advisers crossing the line, revised operating models and a new way of working for many in the industry.
The focus over the past 18 months has been internally driven in getting both advisers and practices ready to trade in a post-RDR landscape. One of the key areas of change has been a closer examination of the continuation of servicing clients – which I believe will start to open the doors for a demand for more financial advisers.
According to www.unbiased.co.uk, over 400,000 individuals and businesses have approached them to help them find an IFA. Whether it is the need to fill the gap between savings and pensions, manage a limited income successfully in these challenging economic times, or increase the value of savings, people in the UK need access to high quality financial advice.
The industry will need to attract new entrants in order to meet this increasing demand. For many years, the financial services arena has failed to attract new people in to financial adviser roles in sufficient numbers. However, all that could change with a makeover of professional standards and a greater focus on service.
We have a great opportunity to share the positive aspects of a career in financial services and to nurture a new generation of financial advisers – helping our profession to reverse the declining number of advisers and thereby increase the British public’s access to professional financial advice.
At the Financial Adviser School, we are about to start training our fourth intake of students. I recently attended one of the FAS’ open days, held in London, and it was great to see students from such a diverse range of backgrounds and with varying levels of experience – from graduates considering their first career step, an ex-fireman looking for a second career, right through to a company secretary wanting to build a new business.
The transferable skills and different experiences that these people bring, coupled with developing new skills, will certainly enhance the adviser community – adding value to customers and indeed the industry.
Over the past 18 months it has also been pleasing to see the sons and daughters of existing financial advisers coming through the school. We have seen some encouraging examples of firms investing in future successors to learn about the business, get qualified and join the team with a view to one day taking over the business.
When talking to students, they are excited about a bright future and see that changes in the industry will bring them opportunities; particularly as there has been a slow decline of advisers for many years.
The retail financial services industry is about to experience a huge shake-up, but we will see the demand for advice continue. Now, more than ever, we need to improve managing our talent pipeline. We need to encourage a wide range of people from various backgrounds and with different experience and skills to take a look at a career in financial services.
Lisa Winnard is director of HR and development at Sesame Bankhall Group