For the last couple of weeks, apart from recovering from Brian Blessed's speech at the New Model Adviser® conference and a rare sighting of the lesser-spotted Sven-Göran Eriksson, I have been talking to advisers about their graduate programmes.
Quentin Holland, managing director of London-based firm PQR Financial Planning, has recruited three graduates into the company on his training scheme.
’I am extremely enthusiastic about bringing new intellect into the firm and the wider industry,’ said Holland, whose firm has 12 advisers and over £600 million under influence.
In Edinburgh, Gordon Wilson and Shireen Fernie, directors of Carbon Financial Partners, a firm with 34 employees, have had eight graduates join their scheme over the past three years.
Roles not set in stone
At PQR, graduates train as administrators. Holland said they could inject new ideas into the business. ‘It is great when you can combine the intellect of the graduate and the experience and professionalism of the administrator for a client,’ he said.
The ultimate role for the graduates is not set in stone at either company.
‘One of our graduates is more interested in financial planning, whilst one has a more mathematical background and is interested in our portfolio selection, and is going down the Investment Management Certificate route,’ Holland said.
Fernie and Wilson are equally flexible. ‘People can see what suits them. One of our graduates has now decided they are more interested in the marketing side of the firm, and we are supporting them fully with that decision,’ said Fernie.
Regardless of how many qualifications graduates manage to achieve at the age of 23 or 24, is a 55-year-old business owner client going to want them as their adviser? At Carbon, graduates are seconded to a director and see clients jointly, with the hope that this process of ‘blooding in’ will make clients comfortable to work with them.
Holland said he was open-minded about the options for his graduates. ‘We are grappling with the question of what to do with our graduates once they finish the two years of the programme,’ he said, adding that if it were in the graduate’s best interests, he would even search for opportunities in other firms.
‘I like the idea that it is an apprenticeship. They are learning skills, a trade, in what will hopefully be a more honest and modern profession,’ he said.
Holland’s passion for helping his ‘apprentices’ is infectious. ‘The fact that these are not advisers tainted by the history of the industry is such a positive. And they are learning their trade in a financial environment that will be invaluable in the future. This isn’t the 1980s when everyone thought prices could only go up: they have a much better attitude towards risk,’ he said.
Holland said he was also investigating the advantages of running the graduate programme as a government-backed apprenticeship scheme.
‘If we turn it into an apprenticeship scheme, it does appear the government may be willing to wholly or partly fund the exams and training manuals. That could be worth £2,000 to £3,000 per person,’ he said.