'The role of financial planner has changed'

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'The role of financial planner has changed'

The role of the adviser has changed but qualifications and training is playing catch up, says Michael Pashley.

The managing director of Practical Financial Exams says many advisers, even experienced ones, are not up to scratch when it comes to the soft skills needed for the job.

Often, he says, the technical knowledge is there, but the communication thereof proves difficult.

In a Q&A with FTAdviser In Focus Pashley outlines how to train recruits effectively, where employers might look for the next generation of advisers and why airline pilots make good financial advisers.

Michael Pashley, managing director of Practical Financial Exams



We’ve found soft and practical skills to be development areas for even very experienced financial advisers.




FTA: How are the training needs of advisers changing?

MP: Historically, the role of the financial adviser was much more technical. Over the past 10 years paraplanning has become its own profession, with paraplanners adopting many of the technical aspects of the role.

Meanwhile, regulation has inspired centralised investment propositions. The role of the financial planner is therefore now very much one of relationship management.

The problem is that most training and qualifications continue to focus on technical knowledge rather than relationship management.

During formal assessments, we’ve found soft and practical skills to be development areas for even very experienced financial advisers who have never had any formal training on the subject, let alone on things like contemporary risk-profiling processes or 'Smart' objective setting.

We’re also finding that, while technical knowledge is there, the ability to communicate it clearly and simply to answer client questions on subjects like ESG is often lacking.

FTA: Training can take a long time, what's the most efficient way to train new recruits?

MP: At Practical Financial Exams, we advocate a practical approach.

While the level 4 and level 6 exams offered by professional bodies provide the technical, we provide the practical counterpart to complement what they do.

Once the trainee’s level 4 diploma is complete, we advocate a robust CAS process involving the completion of our SCQF level 9 practical investment planning qualification to give a solid foundation of the adviser role both with clients and back at the office, while allowing the recruits to hold meetings with clients under 100 per cent supervision and deliver advice on a 100 per cent pre-sale check basis.

Management should be hands-on, and frequently in contact to provide ongoing feedback and training.

FTA: Do you still detect a sales or targets-driven mindset among new entrants?

MP: Personally no, most trainees I’ve spoken to are very service focused.

But then again, the kinds of firms that get their trainees signed up to a PFE qualification are those which tend to focus more on service anyway, so perhaps I’m not seeing the full picture.