The push towards professionalism driven by the retail distribution review is attracting young graduates to adviser firms, a benefit Jeremy Davis, Adrian Murphy and Mike Holden have been taking advantage of.
Managing director, 35 Finance
We have recently hired three graduates as part of the firm’s emphasis on professionalism and fresher faces.
The retail distribution review (RDR) has provided the opportunity of publicising to clients and potential clients that there is a higher degree of professionalism in the industry. This has encouraged the younger generation to be a part of it and become advisers.
We want to be at the vanguard of this, making sure we are upgrading our staff not just from the qualifications point of view, but that we are also providing a fresh new-world mind-set.
Graduates don’t have the history of working in an old-model world: they are not used to taking commission. So it is great for us because it is a completely fresh start for them in the new fee-based world.
Tie-ups with universities
We found our graduates through our professional connections. But in the future we would like to forge ties with a university and recruit graduates that way.
We are closely associated with the University of Cambridge. This is something we want to cultivate as we anticipate more people will want to be involved in the industry. This is the way it has happened in the US: financial planning has become a major career choice for university graduates. Usually the UK follows the US, so we could see that happening here too.
Fast development opportunities
I think the graduates were attracted by the feeling that in joining the firm, they are getting on the ground floor of something that is going to take off. They are part of something growing and developing that will make a difference.
They have the opportunity of moving up quicker to a higher level this way than perhaps if they joined a larger organisation.
On traditional graduate schemes, it could take ages for them to get anywhere. We train the graduates up to level six, and although it is less structured than traditional training, they get a more hands-on approach.
Although we run the risk of them leaving once they have qualified, it’s something we can’t control, and in the meantime, we have bright young people doing useful work for us.
Graduates don’t have any experience to have expectations of the job, so you have to help them find the areas they like most and give them guidance.
It’s all about motivation: our job is to keep them motivated and steer them in the right direction.
Associate partner, Murphy Financial
We have just hired a graduate from Glasgow Caledonian University. This came about because I lecture for the university’s financial services degree students. I also studied there, and now our firm is building relationships with the students.
In the future it will be our policy to hire graduates. The financial services industry is going through so many changes, and we want young blood, people who haven’t been involved in the old financial services industry.
Going straight to universities to hire young people is the best approach because it guarantees a level of education and professionalism: ideally with the degree in financial services, the students would be diligent and keen on the job.
Our plan is to give graduates trainee paraplanner roles and hope they will develop beyond that.
With the RDR, there have been changes to our business. Five years ago hiring a graduate was like hiring a deadweight for six months because they couldn’t do anything and it was relatively high risk for a while.
Experience is crucial, and the emergence of the paraplanning role allows graduates to gain experience and learn about the job before sitting in front of the client and giving advice.
To attract younger people to join your firm, you have to sell yourself as an employer. I don’t think many graduates would look to move to a firm that couldn’t offer them a future.
The graduates don’t just want the same job for years and years. They want career progression, so they want to be part of a firm that is looking to grow.
The industry is currently heavily weighted towards middle-aged men. Hopefully the RDR will draw a greater focus on professionalism and encourage young people to get into a respected industry.
There is also an emphasis on social media. A lot of the graduates I speak to are very interested in it and stress they’re on Twitter and other sites. I’m keen to use people with social media skills, and the graduates want to be at a firm that will make use of their skills and embrace technology.
Group chief executive, Lift-Financial
Joel Adams, our technical director, was asked to speak at Manchester Metropolitan University and we received interest from graduates who were looking for jobs. Since then we’ve also linked up with a professor at the university, so if we’re looking for more graduates, he’ll market us to the students.
We also have links to other universities, including Lancaster University. Going to universities is definitely the best route: these guys go to learn and then they have to find work. The tutors are permanently looking for people to stand up and tell their students what the world is about.
We got 100 applicants for the graduate positions, and we whittled it down to 25 people who attended workshops with group activities and knowledge-based tests. After that we chose four people for further interviews.
The way to attract graduates is to show them they will be going somewhere if they join your firm.
We have a spectacular modern new office. So many in our profession are working in poky terraced houses. We have a state-of-the-art building that looks exciting when you walk through the door.
We were also last year’s Personal Finance Society chartered financial planner of the year. All these things impress graduates.
Our firm was clearly RDR-ready – a few of the graduates asked about this: they understand we are honest, transparent and fair. This impresses them and they want to be a part of it.
There is a clear path for career progression: you can start at our firm as a graduate and within six years, you can be a chartered financial planner with a solid client bank.
I believe the RDR has driven our industry into becoming a profession. As an industry, we are getting to the point where we are charging fees for advice and service instead of spinning money with commissions for not doing much.
When we become a genuine profession, we will attract good quality graduates. If you look at legal and accountancy firms, they have 5,000 graduates applying for 50 positions because it is a profession, it looks smart and people want to be part of it: they are proud to be a lawyer or an accountant.