This article first appeared in Professional Adviser.

Training the next crop of financial advisers should be on the core agenda of any sustainable practice. This blog explores the options available.

The lack of young blood coming into the financial planning industry has been a growing concern for some time now.

Financial advice is still very much in the shadows as a career path, so a key conundrum for many IFA businesses is how to engage with younger people and help them see it as a prosperous and long-term career.

Overcoming this challenge will be essential for firms to be able to meet ever-increasing demand and develop their proposition to serve future generations.

Let’s start by looking at a couple of recruitment options.

Apprenticeship schemes

Employment schemes for younger people have always had their critics and probably always will. For financial advisers though, they present a vital opportunity to engage with younger people who want to find work within the industry.

Schemes typically last around two years and are available to anyone aged 16 or over. All employers have to do is pay a salary and, in return, they get a ready-made training plan and funding to cover professional qualifications.

There are a number of schemes out there, but ‘Skills Edge’ tends to be a good option for financial advisers.

Graduate schemes

Firms can also engage with universities in the local area to see if they run a graduate scheme. Even offering to get involved with careers fairs presents a perfect platform to promote the benefits of financial planning as a profession.

Anyone deciding to go down the graduate scheme route will be matched up with potential candidates to interview depending on the type of degree they’re studying for.

From there, you generally have free reign over what the placement should look like and whether you want to offer a full-time role at the end of it. Law, accounting and finance students tend to be the most common matches for IFA firms.

But getting trainees onto the payroll is only the first step. The real challenge is how to help promising individuals reach their full potential – and ensure they stick around.

There are four things to consider here:

1. Put trainees into a clients’ shoes 

Most young financial advisers I speak with tell me they were drawn in by the potential to have a positive impact on peoples’ lives, so a great thing to do during a newcomer’s first week is to put them in a clients’ shoes.

Walk them through the advice process as if they were a new client and use tools such as cashflow modelling to illustrate how on track they are to meeting a particular savings objective – for example a summer holiday.

Helping trainees to visualise the impact of financial decisions in this way can be an extremely powerful means of demonstrating the importance of long-term saving (a notion many young people struggle to engage with) and how careful financial planning fits into the equation.

2. Devise a bullet-proof training programme

A clear structure of learning is crucial to providing the grounding that will help people progress into a long-term career.

This should cover everything from the basics – such as what is a pension and ISA – to time spent studying for professional qualifications. Setting out a week by week plan will help both you and your new employee stay on track.

Alongside their learning, you might also have trainees filling an administration role whereby they support a senior adviser. Getting first-hand experience of how experienced IFAs build relationships, making the complex digestible, and dealing with any objections from clients, makes a vital difference to someone trying to learn the ropes.

3. Get back in the office

Team Zoom calls simply can’t replicate the knowledge trainees gain by being sat in an office with experienced advisers. When everyone is comfortable, ensure your team comes together in the physical workplace at least once a week to support training and development.

Aside from the learning aspect, it’s also that bit more difficult for newcomers to feel part of the business and get a sense of what the culture and ethos is really about when everyone is working remotely. It’s often these ‘softer’ elements that are most likely to get people to stick around long-term.

4. Demonstrate career progression

If you see potential in someone and want them to stick around, then tell them. In the short term, you might commit to bumping a promising young trainee’s salary and giving them a new job title once they’ve completed their training.

Longer-term, if you think someone has the genuine potential to be a future leader in the business, then the onus is on you to show exactly how you foresee that progression taking place. When it comes down to it, if you’re upfront and keep your side of the bargain, then you’ll have loyal staff who’ll stay for the long haul.

For any adviser firm to truly thrive and remain sustainable over the long term, then seeking to find and train the advisers of tomorrow should form a core part of its business strategy.