IFA's In Need of Recruitment Injection

IFA's In Need of Recruitment Injection


Recruitment of Independent Financial Advisors (IFA) is increasingly becoming a headache as the UK faces a struggle to entice the next generation of financial advisors.

The Association of Independent Financial Advisors predict that around 10,000 new IFA’s will require training over the course of the next decade to have any substantial input into the financial lives of the troubled UK.

Describing attracting future experts into the industry as a challenge, is an understatement on par with declaring that Amy Winehouse has a drug problem. Many blame the industry itself for contributing to the current tarnishing reputation, with beneficial value hard to come by.

IFA’s currently find they possess an image and reputation to rival a Heather Mills or Ashley Cole, as brand building advertising campaigns have been implemented to little effect, with perplexity now clouding consumers.

With a multitude of customers out there, growing as we speak, it has now reached a stage where customers question the actual motivation of the advisor they’re dealing with, leading to a lack of trust and confusion.

It’s clear that the main fundamental weakness is the severe lack of training opportunities for this specific sector and training programmes have become as frequent as Anne Darwin telling the truth.

IFA firms such as Newcastle based Positive Solutions are very much a rare breed, sowing the seeds for what hopes to be a healthy harvest of IFA’s in the near future. They’ve recently announced an apprenticeship scheme which will train and harness up to 500 new IFA’s over the next two years, an innovative project their Chief Executive Jim Reeve is very proud of.

“Nobody else does what we’re doing,” he stated. “No bank, no financial institution, no insurance company has an apprenticeship scheme such as ours. This is a significant investment by Positive Solutions into the training and development of our IFA partners the lifeblood of our business.”

Full of unique selling points, the scheme is open to 20 applicants this year and the firm exclusively revealed it would cover the costs of advisors exams, course guides and additional support materials, helping advisors improve their professional qualifications and the profitability of their businesses.

Shaun Harris, Assistant Director of The London School of Economics Careers Service, explained that whilst students are easily convinced, with their impressionable mindsets, their career decisions are heavily dictated by the word on the financial footpath, with IFA’s currently possessing negative connotations.

“IFA as a career option hardly figures on the student radar here – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a student here who has asked about it or is thinking about it as a possibility. During autumn term here, students see the likes of Goldman Sachs, PwC, Barclays Capital, McKinsey et al on campus at careers fairs, employer presentations and skills sessions and are also in touch with peers who have interned with them or who are currently working for them.

Their career decisions are heavily influenced by campus presence and brand recognition. So I guess I’m not sure that they are particularly aware of any negative image…it’s more that it doesn’t even figure in the first place.”

Chris Cummings, Director General at the Association of Independent Financial Advisors (AIFA) worrying evaluated, “It’s very expensive to train someone to become an IFA, and far too often, companies headhunt qualified personnel from each other rather than invest in training programmes.”

Mr Cummings highlighted the Retail Distribution Review, implemented next year, as a catalyst in making the whole industry appear more transparent. “Consumers will be able to understand why we are different, which will lead to a growing confidence in advice and bolster the profession because more people will want to join it when they leave university.” Allaying fears of university students that a career as an IFA can be a thriving and well respected one.

This theory was handed substantial backing this week as an unbiased.co.uk report highlighted that over a quarter of a million consumers had requested details of IFA’s in the first half of this current year, and over half a million over the course of the past 12 months, indicating that the demand is there to be utilised.

David Elms, chief executive of unbiased.co.uk, stated: "Our latest report demonstrates that when consumers are most worried about their finances, they put their faith in IFA’s to guide them. Consumer needs are constantly changing and whole-of-market IFA's are the best-positioned of all advice types to serve these needs,” he concluded.

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