National advice firm LEBC has ramped up its adviser training academy to prepare the next cohort of advisers to enter the market.
The firm has brought together its regional in-branch training of aspiring advisers into two central facilities, one based in Hull and the other in Reading.
The academy forms part of LEBC’s succession solution to mitigate the potential impact from a number of its workforce retiring in the coming years.
The academy soft launched in the summer and currently trains four aspiring advisers, who are hired as employees and put through various entry roles, such as client support and paraplanning before being assigned a mentor to observe their break into financial advice.
For graduates straight out of uni the training process up to their Level 4 qualification is expected to last about two years.
Advisers are then encouraged to continue with their studies until they reach Level 6 or the Chartered status awarded by bodies such as the Chartered Insurance Institute.
The new advisers are deployed to one of LEBC’s 16 branches across the UK, joining a force of 87 advisers with a total of about 25,000 clients served a year.
Kay Ingram,director of public policy, said: “We recognise the average IFA comes up to retirement in the next few years. We are trying to replace those advisers that just want to retire.”
She added the firm was keen to ensure succession happened gradually with incoming advisers getting to know the client base of their outgoing colleagues before taking over.
“Many colleagues continue to act as consultant for their clients before they retire fully,” she said.
Ms Ingram also sees LEBC’s training academy as a way of closing the perceived advice gap.
Thousands of advisers left the market following the Retail Distribution Review in 2012, while legislative changes such as the government’s pension reforms of 2015 created a raft of new potential clients needing help with their retirement planning.
The resulting advice gap was recognised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in its review of the advice market in early 2016, which proposed a series of measures including regulatory help for firms exploring digital solutions to the problem.
Ms Ingram said she was concerned the regulator had started to “water down some of its strict rules to cope with the advice gap”.
For instance the regulator stated in a paper in September it would put together a framework for firms wishing to deliver a new form of streamlined advice which did not need to consider a client’s whole set of circumstances.
Ms Ingram said: “We are not giving up on advice, we are saying we believe in the value of financial planning and we will fill that gap.
“We do not think robo advice is going to work, not as a substitute for advice. But we need to look at ways we can cut the cost of advice so people can access it.”