The Chartered Insurance Institute is introducing a diversity and inclusion requirement to its adviser apprenticeship scheme.
The move means only firms that have a diversity and inclusion policy in place and are committed to using non-discriminatory hiring practices will be able to use the Aspire apprenticeship scheme.
The CII wants to address the fact that women only make up about 17 per cent of FCA-approved individuals, according to the regulator's gender diversity in UK financial services report from November 2019.
Keith Richards, engagement director at the CII, said neither age nor gender should be a barrier to people joining the financial services professions.
Mr Richards said: “It is vital that our profession progresses its commitment to be an inclusive society and additionally reflects the diversity of the clients who benefit from receiving financial advice, which is why we have taken this step to ensure careers are accessible to people from a comprehensive range of backgrounds.”
Since Aspire launched back in 2017 more than 500 registered firms have signed up to the programme, which offers training to apprentices so that they can achieve the necessary qualifications and skills required to become a fully qualified financial adviser or insurance professional.
More than 1,500 apprentices were enrolled in the insurance and personal finance professions in 2020, and the CII has now teamed up with the Education Skills Funding Agency to promote the benefit of Aspire.
Elliot Gutherie, associate financial planner at Create and Prosper Financial Services, said it was important to “ increase diversity in financial planning, particularly age and gender diversity” and said the CII had “put emphasis on chartered firm’s diversity policies”.
Manuel Thompson-Oloko, early careers manager at the CII, said: “Broadening access to opportunities for historically disadvantaged social groups is a priority for not only employers but for the whole of society.
“Even when looking at it from a business perspective, for the profession to remain ahead of the curve, it must have access to a diverse range of skills and talents. Apprenticeships provide a very effective route to access new opportunities, whilst also providing tangible benefits to any business, from large corporations to SMEs.”
Diversity and inclusion is also to play a part in the watchdog’s assessment of culture at advice firms.
The regulator expects both firms and senior managers to put measures in place to ensure they meet positive outcomes on diversity and inclusion.
As the pandemic struck, the regulator warned diversity and inclusion efforts were not to take a back seat and more recently, newly appointed FCA boss Nikhil Rathi revealed plans to shake up diversity and culture both within the industry and at the regulator itself.
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