I was heartened to read the government’s plans to strengthen its apprenticeship programme with £2.5bn of funding.
Although the details of the levy on large businesses, which will, in part, finance this funding, are still being worked out, I am sure most big companies will recognise the benefits of increased skills and innovative thinking that a new generation of apprenticeships brings.
The importance of getting new blood into the financial advice sector is often discussed, and I believe apprentices could play a major role in increasing access for consumers to high-quality professional advice. Qualifications and technical knowledge deliver a real benefit in enhancing the public perception of advisers and their professionalism; however, the most important things I have learned about advising clients have been from colleagues and clients.
An adviser needs to have such a varied range of skills that there is no theoretical course or exam which can replace the benefits derived from being hands-on in personal financial advice.
Dealing with clients face-to-face, understanding how life events could change needs and goals, becoming familiar with compliance procedures and finding and winning new clients is the lifeblood of an advisory business.
The opportunity for an apprentice within an adviser practice to learn and develop these skills, while helping the practice grow, presents every firm with a significant opportunity.
Nearly 10 per cent of SimplyBiz Group’s staff intake over the past five years has been made up of apprentices, and 80 per cent of them have been retained as full-time employees after their initial training period. Although most of our apprentices are from a generation often more used to engaging with people online rather than face-to-face, through guidance and training they have gained a deep understanding of the vital importance and value of the personal service that you provide to your clients and we, in turn, provide to the firms we serve.
When next considering the future of your business and how you continue to grow it, or, alternatively, to help you wind down, whether that is imminent or further down the line, I would encourage you to consider taking on an apprentice.
Ken Davy is chairman of The SimplyBiz Group