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Will adviser academies weather the Covid storm?

Will adviser academies weather the Covid storm?
 Julian Hince, head of the Quilter Financial Adviser School

Adviser academies are reporting record intakes and summer spikes as the government desperately moves to protect the jobs market from the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Amid the confusion of the unfolding pandemic earlier this year the Association of Employment and Learning Providers rang alarm bells over a “crash” in new apprenticeship starts, with the advice industry itself shifting its training online to navigate the disruption of lockdown.

But despite initial concerns, the AELP last month went some way to praising a pledge by Boris Johnson to invest more in adult training in a bid to boost the job market in the current crisis and prepare workers for the post-coronavirus economy.

The prime minister promised a “radical” shake up to the post-18 education system, including making higher education loans more flexible in the hope of allowing adults and young people to space out study across their lifetimes.

It comes amid reports advisers are struggling to fill more experienced job vacancies, but are being inundated with application for trainee roles as school leavers struggle to settle in a jobs market struggling against the tide of the pandemic.

Similarly, at the Quilter Financial Adviser School, the advice giant has witnessed a significant shift in a different type of demographic joining its courses since the coronavirus outbreak.

In the cohort of students starting its programme in January, 22 per cent fitted the profile of graduates with a couple of years’ experience, recent graduates or those who had recently left school. In Quilter’s September cohort this had increased to 56 per cent of students.

Julian Hince (pictured), head of the Quilter Financial Adviser School, said the summer months had seen interest in the school spike.

He said: “Part of that was driven by two new initiatives we launched. In June we announced we made the training content for the first unit of the diploma for financial adviser programme free and in July we offered a virtual work experience programme for those looking to explore financial advice as a career option.”

But Mr Hince said funding could sometimes serve as a stumbling block.

He added: “Someone who wants to start studying with the Quilter Financial Adviser School must secure a sponsor or self-fund £7,500 to study the CeMAP & DipFA combined programme.

“While we’ve seen a jump in the number of advice firms who are putting graduates and school leavers on the programme, it has not kept up with the peaked interest, so unfortunately not all those who have expressed an interest have gone on to a course at this stage.”  

Record intake

The Openwork Academy this year has seen a record intake of trainees. The next cohort of trainees set to join the academy this month will bring the total recruitment to more than 150 students this year, with the average candidate aged 35 years old.

This is despite recent research conducted by the national advice network, which found only one in five adults were planning on a career change at the moment.