Advisers should not be put off taking on apprentices, a senior industry figure has claimed, as without such entry points into the industry the numbers of financial advisers will continue to dwindle.
Tom Hegarty, managing director of the New Model Business Academy (NMBA), said he was aware some advice firms preferred only to recruit fully qualified advisers, but warned: "This does not address the long-term problems around growing adviser numbers across the sector."
He said apprenticeships also offered a "more thorough training programme for recruits", combining on the job experience with knowledge and skills, rather than just getting people through exams.
Mr Hegarty's comments came in response to those made by adviser Stuart Feast, a financial adviser at St Albans-based Feast Noble & Company, who told FTAdviser the industry had changed over the past 30 years and apprenticeships were "no longer viable" for many businesses.
He said: "For us, apprenticeships are just not viable. You put a lot of effort and time into someone and I’m afraid that it never seems to bear any fruit. The majority of people that I know working as IFAs think the same thing."
However, Mr Hegarty disagreed, stating positives towards taking on apprenticeships, especially when the firms are receiving support from a network or support services organisation.
According to Mr Hegarty: "Apprenticeships allow firms to reduce their own training costs, as well as the time they need to spend in training new talent themselves, as a good proportion of support in this area is provided through a training company like NMBA.
"All stakeholders across the advice sector have a responsibility to support new entrants in order to meet customer demand, provide a wider recruitment pool and help succession planning for those looking to exit."
He added: "Apprenticeships in our sector are a new option which has not been available before and we should unite as a sector to make them work."
His comments were backed up by one commentator on FTAdviser, who stated: "You can learn (nearly) as much from taking on an apprentice as they learn from you.
"It's not all about profit now: if we fail to train new entrants there will be no-one to support our clients either through internal succession planning or by selling our business to a younger adviser."
In February this year, NMBA launched an apprenticeship scheme to allow firms to train the advisers of the future, with the first cohort of apprentices starting on 3 April. Firms are able to apply for funding from the scheme.