When it comes to professionalism in financial advice, young industry entrants Alex and Max Slipaczek do not cut corners. Here they explain why financial education is key to the future of advice
For Alex and Max, the sons and business partners of North London Chartered Financial Planner Filip Slipaczek, professionalism is everything.
Both hold professional qualifications - both Alex and younger brother Max are on the way to becoming Chartered. Both Filip and Alex hold the highly prized, but rarely achieved, ISO 22222 certificate for five years running (Alex since since January 2016 and Filip since January 2011).
But the pair consider themselves lucky to have benefited from the financial knowledge and engagement of their father. Without it, they say, they could have struggled.
Max, who completed an IFS school of finance qualification, an A Level equivalent, before embarking on his marketing and finance degree at Essex University, says: "When you get to university you're thrown in at the deep end, in terms of managing finances and, if you don't have that early guidance from your parents, you can struggle."
He argues there is a need for a greater emphasis on financial education in the school syllabus - for instance a GSCE qualification that educates students on basic concepts of financial management.
His brother Alex agrees, saying early education was key to people being able to manage their finances effectively. Alternatively, he suggests, local councils could come into schools periodically for talks.
He continues: "When people get into problems in later life, such as debt, they're more aware of the options available to them and how to manage this."
A 'better calibre' of adviser
In October, the worlds of financial advice and politics came together to stage the first financial adviser event at the House of Commons, which focused on financial inclusion and education.
The event was organised by Filip, in cooperation with the Personal Finance Society (PFS) whose intention was to draw a focus on public financial engagement as well as to show unity between the industry and politicians.
It heard from MP Jonathan Edwards, as well as well-known industry figures PFS chief executive Keith Richards and Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) head of financial planning Campbell Edgar.
"This combination of increased financial education and industry efforts to engage will help create a better calibre of adviser," says Max. "It will also help in continuing to shift the 'salesman in a suit' stereotype of advisers."
Max suggests graduates are increasingly looking to financial advice as a career, as they recognised the "prestige" in having Chartered qualifications.
Even so, he believes, retail financial services is not talked about enough as a career. "When I was working at my student union in employment advice sessions, I don't think there was ever an IFA firm or professional body that came in," he adds.
Show of unity
For Filip, the Commons event succeeded in demonstrating unity between professional bodies and the public's representatives on key financial services issues.
"With Jonathan Edwards as the host, we wanted to appeal for issues that might be relevant for an MP's constituents within the financial services sector," he says.
"This includes pension freedoms and access to financial advice, as well as building on reputation and professionalism within the industry."
As a former director of the Society of Financial Advisers, from 2001 to 04, prior to it becoming the PFS, Filip has a track-record of campaigning for improving professional standards within financial services.
He adds that he also saw the event as an opportunity to again give back to the industry, with the evening raising £2,500 from sponsors for charity SOS Children's Villages International.
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