The government has issued a formal protocol for apprenticeships for the financial advice sector but to what extent will it help? Professional Adviser asked three advisers for their views ...
Documents published by the Skills Funding Agency on 29 November describe both the role an apprentice will undertake and what qualities are required of them by the financial services sector.
The documents, which are available to download here, are a financial adviser apprentice standard and assessment plan, covering expectations for different areas of knowledge, skills and behaviours.
This includes maintaining knowledge of the financial services market, including product provider services. In terms of skills, this focuses on developing client relationships, ensuring advisers make appropriate financial decisions according to individual client needs. As for behaviour, advisers are expected to offer a proactive, positive and adaptable approach to managing client finances.
We asked three advisers for their take on the formalised standards and the expectations they have for the initiative going forward.
"Another step from industry to profession"
Patrick Connolly, certified financial planner and head of communications, Chase de Vere: "We need to ensure professionalism within financial services and this initiative serves as part of that. It acts as another step in transitioning from an industry to a profession.
"One of the big steps towards this was taken with the Retail Distribution Review, in moving away from a commission-based business model and more towards one that is fee-based.
"Going forward, the government needs to make sure the standards don't become strict rules or too prescriptive, as what works for one company may not for another."
"Will help attract young advisers at entry level"
Brian Hill, IFA, Jones Hill: "With an average age for advisers of around 55, we need to have people coming in at entry level which will be helped by formalising standards.
"As for where to take this initiative next, to get the recognition of accountants and solicitors, we need to ensure advisers are qualified to Level 6 or higher.
"We also need to continue to move away from an attachment to product, as this will help those standards of professionalism and help get rid of the association with advisers as salesmen."
"Old pathways into the profession no longer exist"
Bill Marshall, chartered financial planner, Lamb & Associates: "This formalisation of standards can only be a good thing as we need new blood in the industry. Old pathways into the profession no longer exist and most people of my generation fell into these roles.
"If someone asked me now how I got into my role leaving school, I would actually find it quite hard to tell them how to do it - so I only have positive things to say about this initiative."
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