St James's Place  

Dozens of SJP graduates launch own advice firms

Dozens of SJP graduates launch own advice firms

Lockdown saw 39 graduates from the St James's Place academy launch their own advice firms, in what the advice giant has hailed as an "immense achievement" in the current economic climate. 

It sees the number of graduates to have set up their own advice business since the academy was launched in 2012 surpass the 550 mark. 

The latest cohort to establish their own firm upon leaving the academy range from 24 to 59 years-old and more than a third, at 38 per cent, are female. 

Jason Flood, academy director at SJP, said the graduates and newly-appointed business owners were the "financial planning employers of the future". 

Mr Flood said: "We’re proud to have helped so many advisers break into the industry since 2012, but particularly in the current business landscape it’s an immense achievement to have supported new businesses and helped with job creation.

"These graduates have been forced to adapt their initial plans, such as shifting face to face meetings to virtual ones, and it’s really impressive how they have overcome these challenges." 

Launching their own business is one of two paths available to graduates of the academy, with the other being to join as an adviser with an existing partner practice.

In the first six months of the two-year training programme students are financially supported by SJP in the form of grants and a working capital allowance.

Robbie Simpson, a former footballer who graduated from the academy in March this year, said joining the industry in lockdown meant adapting to new ways of working with technology. 

As with any start-up business, Mr Simpson said, there had also been "teething problems".

But he added: "Coming out of the academy into lockdown, people were telling me what a bad time it was to start a new business, but it really couldn’t have been better for me.

"With the training and support from SJP and the academy, coupled with potential clients seeming to have more time on their hands to think about their finances, I really feel there couldn’t have been a better time to launch my new business."

Naomi Haynes, a former business manager who also graduated in March, said she had been regularly using social media to post about personal and business finance, with a "really positive" response. 

Ms Haynes said advisers did not need to "leave their front door" to have a positive impact, grow a business and "make a difference". 

She added: "Although I’ve needed to adjust my approach to building my business, it has been brilliant to be able to get out there and not let lockdown negatively impact me and the people I can help.

"The pandemic has caused a lot of worry about people’s financial wellbeing, and lockdown has actually given me the opportunity to connect with people via video calls, as well as via telephone, to provide advice on their financial journey during a difficult time."