One of the issues facing the IFA sector is the age profile of qualified advisers which is on average mid to late 50s.
While experience and maturity are key attributes when advising individuals and businesses on their financial planning, there is a need to encourage new entrants to the profession to ensure that advice put in place today can continue to be reviewed and built upon.
Individuals may require advice at stressful times in their lives, such as during divorce or after a bereavement or redundancy. While technical knowledge can be learnt, social and life skills have to be acquired and cannot be taught.
This concern can often act as a barrier to able candidates putting themselves forward as potential advisers.
One way in which this can be overcome is to offer a robust mentoring scheme which supplements technical and compliance training and enables the younger adviser to have a role model to whom he or she can refer any issues and can consult on the best way to approach a given situation.
The first step in establishing a mentoring scheme is to sell the benefits of this to the older and more experienced adviser.
Busy advisers can be hard pressed to keep up with the demand for advice, especially in the post-pension-freedoms era, so it would be natural for them not to want to take on the added responsibility. The solution is to offer them the help of a trainee or newly qualified adviser who will be able to assist them in delivering advice to their clients in return for guidance and support in their development.
It is common practice in other professions for trainees to be taken along to client meetings to help the more experienced colleague. In my experience clients see this as the hallmark of a professional firm which is interested in providing an ongoing commitment to continuity of service.
The trainee can observe and learn and also complete routine tasks for the adviser. Longevity and consistency of advice is a key attraction for clients who if offered this are likely to remain loyal to the business.
Many older advisers enjoy this role and like to help others develop their careers knowing that one day they will wish to retire and leave their clients in capable hands so that the foundations of the financial plans they have put in place can continue to be built upon.
In some circumstances this can create a legacy income which can be used to support the older generation in the transition to retirement.
A properly constructed mentoring scheme can also give trainees the opportunity to experience different aspects of specialist advice. This may include working in different departments or with different colleagues so that they gain an insight into the needs of elderly clients, working with solicitors on family law matters, advising companies on employee benefits and working with pension trustees.