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How academies are alleviating the advice market crisis

How academies are alleviating the advice market crisis

The FTAdviser newsfeed is filled daily with stories of advisers selling their businesses, whether large or small, to consolidators or trade buyers.  

The result is likely to be that the overall number of advice companies will fall, while the average age of advisers continues to rise, with many not eager to take on new clients.  

At the same time, the demand for advice, and need for advisers, has not diminished. 

Into this breach have stepped a range of businesses operating adviser academies, with the aim of training people to CII level four standard or higher. 

Julian Hince, head of the Quilter Financial Adviser School, says the reason for the acute shortage of younger advisers coming through “is that the traditional routes which brought through the next generation – the High Street banks and the insurance companies – are not available any more. Even 25 years ago, those companies had perhaps a quarter of a million advisers”.

Helen Grieves' route to teaching at an adviser school is very different from that of many others in the industry. 

Grieves' brother-in-law runs an advice business in Newcastle. They discussed the state of the industry, the difficulty of attracting new advisers to the industry, and the lack of diversity among advisers. 

A maths teacher by profession, Grieves, along with her friend and fellow maths teacher Shannon Fox, decided to take the relevant exams and set up the Lowes Financial Academy with Grieves' brother-in-law Ian Lowes, an adviser who runs Lowes Financial Management in Newcastle.  

What next?

While the academies may sound like a good idea for training people, the question is: what happens when they are qualified?

At Quilter, which bought the adviser school from Sesame five years ago, the intention is for almost all of the students at the Quilter academy to become employed by that company.

This policy is pursued by other academies. A small number of the students in the academy have self-funded their studies, and will not necessarily become employed by Quilter.

One way they recruit for the academy is by contacting the advice companies within the Quilter network to enquire if they have staff who want to attain qualifications; these staff then return to the company within the Quilter network that employs them.

At Lowes, the focus is less about hiring graduates for the advice business than about providing skills to locals in the North East of England.

Grieves says: “Improving access to the industry is an important focus. We want to break down barriers. The truth is that a lot of people in the North East don’t know what a financial adviser is, they think it is people trying to rob you, and we want to help with building up understanding.