The government has published formal standards for financial adviser apprenticeships, outlining what is expected from advisers starting off in the profession.
Documents published by the Skills Funding Agency 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.
'Knowledge' comprises the financial services market, regulatory and compliance, product and cashflow modelling, systems and controls, and understanding clients' needs and objectives.
'Skills' consists of know your customer, customer service, business development, managing risk, using systems and processes, and communications skills, while 'behaviours' takes in professionalism, adaptability, business-oriented, positive mental attitude ,and relationship management and collaboration.
The Skills Funding Agency said the financial adviser standard was ready to use and had been developed by Ablestoke Financial Planning, The Beaufort Group, Lighthouse, Openwork, Santander, Sense, Sesame, Succession, Tenet and Towry.
It added: "Under our reforms, employer-designed standards will replace frameworks, and will be clear and concise. From 2017 to 2018, as many apprenticeship starts as possible will be on the new standards."
Darren Smith, head of the Financial Adviser School, which is part of Old Mutual Wealth, said: "It is great news the industry now has formal standards approved for the apprenticeship for financial advisers. Next year the UK's apprenticeship programme is being completely overhauled, giving firms recruiting and training new advisers the opportunity to access additional funding."
There has been much debate about how to go about attracting new blood into the advice sector in the wake of developments brought about by the implementation of the Retail Distribution Review and Smith believes the new standard could help achieve this end.
He explained: "Having a recognised apprenticeship standard for the financial planning profession will help attract young people leaving education as they consider what career path they would like to pursue. Financial advice is in huge demand in the UK and a career as a professional financial adviser represents a great opportunity.
"We hope that by creating a clear, accredited career path with endorsement from the government Skills Funding Agency, financial planning apprenticeships can play an important role in fostering the next generation of financial advisers."
Personal Finance Society chief executive Keith Richards said the apprenticeship offered a much-needed alternative route for advisers to enter the profession, complementing the recently-launched Financial Services Administrator, Mortgage Adviser and Paraplanner apprenticeships.
He said: "This is great news for our sector, which faces an ongoing risk of future skills shortages in the absence of initiatives such as this new employer-led apprenticeship standard."
"We have long discussed the issues relating to developing new talent in our sector and apprenticeships provide a fantastic opportunity to overcome some of these barriers for financial planning firms, including a structured training and development programme supported by government funding."
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