Getting new blood into the financial services industry has long been a problem for a sector suspected of being dominated by men of a certain age. Here one young IFA tells Laura Miller why he decided to buck the trend and join the ranks at the tender age of 23.
Tristan Hartey (pictured) is a young man on a mission. He became a fully qualified adviser last October, at just 22 years old. So what made him choose financial advice as a career?
Family connections are one part of the story. His father and uncle have both been financial advisers, and Hartley first began work at his dad's firm, Chester-based Applewood Wealth Management.
"My father started in the industry at about the same age and then went on to set up his own company, which is something I would also like to do someday," said Hartey.
It's imperative advisers do more in terms of helping educate about finance.
Hartey's father recently sold his business to Perspective, and he along with his son left the firm. Hartey is now an adviser at Wykeham Independent Consultants, a small Winchester-based firm which Hartley said affords him greater opportunities to give clients his personal attention.
So did Hartey receive any fatherly pearls of wisdom before he started down the adviser path?
"He gave me a bit of advice in terms of making sure I learn all the technical aspects before I started trying to give advice. Which is why I started paraplanning."
Hartey began working at Applewood about three years ago as a paraplanner while he took his exams to become an adviser, an experience he said added hugely to his knowledge and skills base.
"I worked for one of the other advisers and spent my entire time writing and researching the reports for the cases he had, which in turn has helped me to increase my technical knowledge of how the products work.
"It also helped me to pass my exams, as many of the thing I learnt whilst paraplanning weren't in the textbooks that the IFS School of Finance sent me.
"Being a paraplanner has allowed me to develop a greater understanding of the industry too as it means I can work in multiple roles. It has also meant I realise the importance of paraplanners, as without them I would spend my entire time writing reports rather than seeing clients."
Like many advisers, for Hartey seeing clients is where the real pleasure in the profession lies.
"I enjoy talking with and getting to know our clients. I have always been a people person and don't enjoy being sat behind a desk, so having the opportunity to go and talk to all manner of people is the most enjoyable part of the job for me.
"I believe that trust is key, so unless you can get along with your clients and trust each other there is no way to do business."
The next generation
However, Hartey's main focus is actually going back to school - to teach young people about finance. He has already returned to his old sixth form to give a lesson on the fundamentals of everyday money matters.
"I think it's imperative that advisers do more in terms of helping educate about finance. The government wants more advisers to get into schools to talk about the subject and it's a perfect opportunity for me because of my age."
"I think at the moment schools don't really teach young people anything about finance. So my seminars will aim to teach them the basics about credit, bank accounts, mortgages, how student loans actually work and budgeting for university or the start of working life. I will also talk a little about the tax system and how that works."
So far, so good
So how is Hartey finding life in the adviser's chair?
"My general experience about the industry has been good, however as I have quite fresh eyes on it I do think that we spend too much time working for the regulator rather than our clients. I spend a lot of my time just trying to appease compliance."
And has he had any problems with clients wanting a more experienced adviser?
"I havent had any problems yet with my age, because we spend so much time getting to know our clients the age of the adviser is pretty irrelevant, as long as I make it clear I'm fully qualified. So far it hasn't been an issue."
So what are his plans for 2014?
"Keeping up with my continuing personal development (CPD) is a big priority. But I'll also be looking at whether I can set up my own small firm - but I'll have to see about that!"
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