Whichever way you dress it up, financial advice in its current form is simply not 'sexy'.
And whereas other professions, like accountancy, can beguile bright young things with career progression and great earning prospects, financial advice remains the inverse Cinderella of the job market - she gets to go to the ball alright, but as one of the ugly sisters.
The question therefore is how to make our profession more attractive at the milk round stage of the new recruit courtship.
I would argue there is a great deal to be said for exclusivity, by which I mean setting an entry level benchmark high enough to make it feel like something has been achieved, as it would go a long way to making a career as an IFA more attractive not only to graduates, but to the many other bright young things out there deciding where their professional futures lie.
In order to effect a lasting transformation from ugly sister to Cinders, the first step must be to wholeheartedly embrace the drive for higher professional standards and significantly raise the entry benchmark qualification.
The protracted debate around the other elements of RDR will prove to be little more than a short-lived distraction if we don't, because ultimately without attracting new blood there will be no IFA profession to speak of in the future, ugly or otherwise.
We could further up its appeal by allowing a decent living to be made from a career as an IFA. Unlike raising professional standards, however, this is largely out of our hands as it depends on whether policymakers persist in focusing all attention on lowering product price, and pricing advice out of the equation in the process.
Address these two fundamental issues and I believe the profession would finally come out from the shadow of its more attractive sisters and might actually start winning a few of those job market beauty parades. With the obvious exception of the banks, it is in everyone's best interests this happens.
Sheriar Bradbury is managing director at Bradbury HamiltonIFAonline
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