Would You Trust a Young Financial Adviser? This Initiative Wants You to

There's a mico-economy within financial services that is uniting to achieve one thing and one thing only: a more diverse pool of financial advisers

Ollie Smith 26 February, 2024 | 2:42PM
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UK textbook

After fears of a decline in the number of financial advisers able to help UK customers with their money worries, it's now clear the figure is rising – albeit gradually.

Last year, latest figures on UK adviser numbers showed an increase to 28,227 in 2022 from 27,839 in 2021. In 2020 there had been 27,501. We await figures for 2023 this year.

Why is that happening?

Ask any adviser and they will tell you that their profession has undergone multiple and overlapping phases of regulation, professionalisation, and private equity-driven (and very publically-scrutinised) consolidation. It's also survived a pandemic and the onset of scalable wealth management technology.

You might think that would turn the tendency for advisers to retire in the 50s and 60s into an overpowering trend. You'd be wrong.

One reason the numbers are slowly on the up is a clique of public-spirited financial advice experts who have, through a combination of business launches and their own sheer goodwill, encouraged new candidates and second careerists to join their profession.

The biggest name on the block in this regard is NextGen Planners. Founded in 2017 by two financial adviser friends who wanted to offer younger financial planners and paraplanners a safe space to discuss best practice and business ideas, it's now an established limited company offering their colleagues everything short of what's known in the biz as "authorisation" – the permission needed to give formal recommendations to clients.

Other businesses are also making serious contributions to this agenda, however.

Some of them are financial advice businesses in their own right with so-called "academies" whose learning programmes take school leavers and university graduates from "zero to hero." But there is also a micro-economy in adviser support businesses, and one of them is launching a new partnership..

The Verve Group helps people start, build, and refine financial advice businesses. But under that moniker sits a smaller but significant operation called The Verve Foundation, whose not-for-profit programme We Are Change offers people whose careers were disrupted by Covid-19 the chance to earn a funded Level 4 Chartered Insurance Institute qualification. More than 400 people applied in its first two weeks.

Two weeks ago, however, the company took another step. To bolster the offering, it has partnered with recruitment firm Antony George Recruitment, the UK's first subscription-based recruitment agency for the financial planning and advice world. The move creates a pipeline that will hopefully put advisers behind desks at financial planning firms across the UK.

"Our We Are Change programme operates through sponsorship from established firms and providers," says Hayley Rabbetts, head of The Verve Foundation.

"Those sponsors can recruit from the talent pool but when there aren't roles available through existing sponsors, we need to ensure there are still opportunities for our students; working with Antony George will allow us to achieve that.

Adds Lewis Byford, co-director at Antony George: "the financial services industry is in constant need of fresh perspectives and diverse talents.

"Our collaboration aims to bridge the gaps between skills development and employment opportunities, ensuring aspiring individuals entering the finance sector receive the necessary training and support for a successful career.

"The values of The Verve Foundation resonate with our commitment to adopting positive change in the industry, and we look forward to working together to empower and uplift the next generation of financial professionals."

And that's just one reason why, as with so many of such initiatives, the next person you talk to about investing a windfall or planning your retirement could be under the age of 35.

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Ollie Smith

Ollie Smith  is editor of Morningstar UK

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