I am sure that we have all noticed an increase in the number of the new financial advisers in our industry who are aged twenty-something. Where are they coming from, why are they becoming advisers, and what does it mean for the clients?
Nationally, the increase in popularity and scope of apprenticeship schemes has generated a lot of interest in becoming a financial adviser. As an End Point Assessor for the apprenticeship scheme, I have completed the apprenticeship journey for over twenty new advisers to date, and all but two were aged twenty-something. Within my own firm over the last three years all but one of the eight new advisers that I have trained have aged twenty-something.
Unlike my own experience of becoming a financial adviser back in the early 1990’s, which, if I am honest, was not a career choice but simply because I needed work, and yes, I was over thirty years old, all these new advisers have made this a career choice. They have come up through the back office and previously worked as administrators, technical support, or para-planners. All have several years back-office experience and training. All, of course, have the minimum level 4 requisite qualifications. Looking back to when I started, I had no qualifications, did not need any qualifications, had no experience and was given two weeks training before I started to give financial advice with minimum supervision. That is if you can call a conversation which went like “Do you have a pension? No? You need a pension. How much can you afford each month?” to be financial advice. It was what it was back then.
They see being a financial adviser as the best role in the industry. Not so much for the money, but for the scope of the role and what it delivers, not just for the prospective income.
Talking to these new advisers they appear quite consistent in why they are making this a career choice. They see being a financial adviser as the best role in the industry. Not so much for the money, but for the scope of the role and what it delivers, not just for the prospective income. And they are prepared to invest a lot of time in achieving this. I’ve yet to meet anybody who has sat financial advice as a degree choice at university, but many have sat associated degrees, then moved into the back office, and progressed to becoming a new financial adviser. Probably that they have been less than ten years out of the education system, many a lot less than ten years, has helped the learning and application needed.
They are also not content with just achieving level 4. Most of the trainees that I have assessed have been focused on achieving Chartered status. Not necessarily because they must, but because they see that as the level they need to be to meet the needs of the role. In my own firm this has developed further into upping the ante even further with at least three new advisers achieving Fellowship and two more in hot pursuit. Healthy competition? Perhaps. But also they see this as a means of demonstrating credibility.
Is credibility important? Absolutely. It always has been. The older advisers will use their years of experience, the size of their client bank, and even their fee generation records for credibility. These new advisers do not have that. So they need the qualifications as credentials to demonstrate their knowledge. You may well ask if they need to do this, and I would suggest that the answer is that they do. Put yourself in their position. If you are a twenty-seven-year-old new adviser talking to a sixty-year-old client about how their half a million pounds should be invested, you need something to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about. It is no different to when we have a technical issue on our computer or mobile phone, we are quite likely to ask one of our kids (or at least somebody much younger) because we know that usually they are good, and they have the knowledge to sort it out.
And yes, they are good. Exceptionally good. What they lack in experience, and we have all been there ourselves whatever the role, they make up with enthusiasm, confidence, and knowledge. I accompanied my two new advisers yesterday to their first (virtual) client meetings and both performed very well. In one of these the client was hungry for technical information which the new adviser provided to a much higher level that I could have done, and in doing so achieved a very solid engagement in the process. The lack in experience showed in losing control of the meeting, but again we have all been there and it did not detract any value from the meeting. Interestingly neither new adviser was over-keen to demonstrate their knowledge. They simply provided a suitable level of information as education and answers questions when required. And their backgrounds? One has been with us for three years, one for seven years. Both were para-planners. Both are Chartered. Both are aged twenty-something.
What does this mean for the clients? Well, compared with the older financial advisers, whilst the new, twenty-something advisers lack experience, certainly in my firm pro-rata they are better qualified than some of their seniors, some of whom do not have the same desire to achieve higher qualifications unless it is necessary. Their approach to the role differs too. Initial training has been the combination of the industry changes over the last few years, advances in technology, and the benefit of observing more experienced advisers, as opposed to additional training through CPD events. Training techniques have advanced considerably too.
Would this benefit the client? Possibly. The job is still the same. Talking to people. Understanding their objectives. Recommending solutions. The main difference is that the clients they take on now will have that adviser for the long-term relationship. Given that people buy people, there is a definite attraction in working with somebody you have known and trusted for years. The twenty-something financial advisers have this in the bag!