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Training for the next generation

I have been privileged to hold recent discussions with Ruth Kelly, Ron Sandler, John Tiner and Colin Brown.

In addition, I have had many other conversations with senior industry figures both on and off the record. I mention this not to namedrop but to highlight the fact that the thoughts I am sharing with you are as a result of much and varied input.

Of course there has been much banging of drums about the survival of advisers with all the current issues facing us but do we really believe that there is much concern in the corridors of power?

With a reduction from 300,000 advisers in 1986 to 77,000 now, will a few more casualties cause that much upset? Sadly, I think not.

However, in order to be listened to and taken seriously we must quickly come up with some practical ideas that help the Government achieve their objectives and allow us to survive and flourish in the post-CP121 and Sandler world.

My conclusion is that there are two vital issues to deal with and embrace and these are inextricably linked – first, the accessibility of advice (to resolve the savings gap) and second, the attraction and recruitment of new blood into what must become a profession.

Further stakeholder-type products will be introduced and delivered to the public by non-qualified advisers. Whilst most of us will abhor the concept of returning to the days of no qualifications, we should see this as a tremendous opportunity.

This could be a new training ground for future advisers. However, we must insist on a very basic level of training and enough knowledge to know when a client must be referred on to a suitably qualified adviser. Existing delivery channels could oversee this group of individuals who I will refer to as “financial informers”.

The “financial informer” could become the base or foundation entry route for non-graduates. After, say, two or three years training and an FPC equivalent exam, they could become “financial advisers”.

We must also devise an effective system for financial services graduates to leave with relevant qualifications appropriate to the financial planning advice process. A defined career path from graduation to becoming either fully qualified advisers or back-up technicians (paraplanners) with generalist or specialist choices in either case would be ideal.

We could learn from other professions here and perhaps call this group “trainee financial planners” until they have completed, say, two years in a practice and become fully qualified. They are then known as “financial planners”.

They can choose to specialise in certain areas and after a period (to be determined) and the appropriate additional qualifications can be called “personal or corporate financial specialists”. A possible career path is shown below.

I can relate to the nurse, GP, consultant roles that I have heard used as an analogy by others but could not fit the terms in the box, other than “generalist” and “specialist”.

Can we call them financial nurses, financial GPs or financial consultants? I think not but I am sure someone can come up with a better model or terminology than I have applied here. I would be deligh-ted to hear any suggestions.

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