Thinc Group chief executive Simon Chamberlain is warning of a severe skills shortage among sales staff using wraps and platforms and has called for industrywide funding for training and development.
Chamberlain says the industry needs an independent academy run by a trade body to prevent product provider bias but says funding could partly come from manufacturers.
He says: “The perfect scenario would be for there to be a training academy which is controlled by some of the representative organisations such as the PFS or the IFP so it is run by distributors but funded by the industry as a whole.
“The FSA should allow product providers and wrap providers to contribute to the development of advisers. I think providers sometimes use the FSA as an excuse not to contribute.”
Chamberlain says there is a whole generation of salespeople who are not trained to use platforms and wraps and are therefore largely underqualified. He says: “There is no training program or facility training advisers to make the conversion and so you end up with people using wraps and platforms in the same way that they used products and that will lead to problems.
“There is a need for a continuous program for all advisers rather than just the static programs where you finish the exams and it all comes to an end. The training should be conducted by the IFA world but the cost of training should be spread across the food chain.”
Chamberlain says there should be a licensing program for people to use platforms and wraps and firms need to make a commitment to invest in the skills of their advisers.
He says: “There is no other profession that would allow a client to hand over money to an adviser without the adviser having a relevant qualification for how the platform and wrap are operated.”
threesixty partner Phil Young says advisers who look at the new technology as an opportunity to further their skills will progress the quickest because there are plenty of jobs available for people with those skills and qualifications.
He says: “There are administrators that are well versed in these particular platforms and they are going to be at a premium, certainly in the early days because there are so few people that have committed to the full training on it so far.”
Young says that while many IFAs will take full advantage of the opportunity to learn new skills, there will be others who resist the move towards platforms and wraps and want to continue using more tradit-ional methods of giving advice.
He said: “IFA firms that are closed to the whole concept of wraps and the use of platforms will not have a shelf life of more than five to 10 years.”
FS3 managing director Michael Godfrey says the real skills shortage is not with regards to technology but a fundamental knowledge of how to manage money.
He says: “I am not sure it is technology that is leading to a skills shortage. I think at the end of the day it is all about advisers being qualified and capable of managing money, irrespective of what platform or wrap they are using.”
Godfrey says he does not believe advisers understand enough about managing money and they do not have the skills to properly analyse the data that technology generates to ensure they are giving the right advice to clients.
He says: “You have got to understand the data that is coming out of these tools and if you are just adopting the output because that is what it says without thinking through the logic and the rationale and making sure it is appropriate for the client, then there are dangers there.”