Helen Grieves, a maths teacher turned financial planner, believes that trust needs to be built in the financial advice industry, and that bringing in people from different backgrounds is the way to go about it.
Grieves is the perfect example of this having worked as a maths teacher for a number of years before joining the financial planning profession.
She now heads up Lowes Financial Academy in Newcastle after being approached by her brother-in-law, Ian Lowes, to assist with launching the business just after the pandemic took hold in 2020.
It was Grieves' teaching background that made Lowes believe she would be the right person for the task.
Grieves was happy to make the change and began completing the industry exams, earning her fellowship in financial planning, while she was on maternity leave.
She now splits her time between financial planning for clients and teaching at the academy.
In Grieves’ view, more needs to be done to encourage greater diversity in the industry, particularly in order to make it more accessible to people who would not traditionally get financial advice.
“It's probably more around government schemes, for example people could be allowed so much free advice a year, or something similar because ultimately, people do need to have this information," Grieves told FTAdviser.
“There is lots of guidance, and there is lots of government guidance websites out there, but there's nothing that specifically offers anything tailored."
She added: “Trust in the industry also needs to be built. That could be done by just getting people from different backgrounds into the profession.
“There is quite a perception that an older man will end up being your financial adviser. So we need to inspire more people to come into the industry. That was part of the mentality of setting the academy up, to try and offer more support for new entrants when it comes to exams,” Grieves said.
Indeed, a recent freedom of information request submitted by FTAdviser to the Financial Conduct Authority showed only 8 per cent of individuals authorised to provide retail investment advice were under the age of 30.
While only 426 advisers in the UK are under the age of 25, compared to 4,824 who are over the age of 60 and thinking about retirement.
So not only is the advice industry grappling with an advice gap, it is also facing a capacity crunch as large numbers of advisers approach retirement without young talent to take over the reigns.
Grieves would like to see more young people consider it as a career option, particularly anyone who is a people person.
“It’s a really good opportunity for anyone who likes helping people. Ultimately you’re helping people achieve their financial goals, so if someone wants a rewarding career and is interested in the financial sector it’s the perfect career.”
The current intake of the Lowes Academy has students from all walks of life.
“Sometimes smaller companies are using us to help support them if they've not got anything in place. But we also have a man who has emigrated from Canada, over to the UK. He's a financial adviser over there and is well established, but he needs his UK qualification in order to come and work here.