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Rethinking The Career Path For Young Advisers

Two recent unconnected events highlighted the mess we are in as an industry when it comes to bringing on young talent.

Firstly I received two CVs from a recruiter. Both candidates had small client banks. Neither was someone we wanted to interview or find more about. The reasons why should be of interest to all young advisers.

The line that stood out to me was that they were seeking a ‘self employed role that can help with leads’. These two young men were clearly looking to build their own client banks. In which case, why would a firm want to hire them?

I want employees who will help build our practice, make it stronger and share in the rewards, not just seek to feather their own nest. You want me to find you clients so you can take them away one day? No thanks!

How have we got to this situation where young advisers think that this is their only option for a career? Here’s my first tip for young advisers: If you want to set up your own business, do so. If you want to commit to a practice, do so. But don’t come with a ‘my client’ mentality and expect someone to pay you a salary while you build up your own thing. That model is broken.

The second event was a video of us recorded by a local company, funded by the council, to help school leavers consider financial planning as a potential profession. There was mention of potential earnings. At the top end (and let’s be honest, we all only really look at the top end!) it was pretty eye watering. This reminded me of the game that many employers play when recruiting of ‘On Target Earnings’ (OTE).

I’ve interviewed many advisers over the years. I would estimate that 90% of the answers to the question “Why did you leave your last role” have been “Because the job didn’t turn out to be all that was promised.” On further questioning, it turns out that the promises of high On Target Earnings and an endless stream of high net worth clients were overstated.

So here is my second piece of advice to young advisers: stop believing the bullshit!

Put these two together and I suspect you have the experience of many, many people in our industry. Went for a job seeking to build their own client bank; Promised lots of leads by the employer; Leads not forthcoming; Forced to find their own clients, with varying degrees of success; Leave after a few years and try and take the clients with them; Get into a argument with the employer about who owns the clients.

It doesn’t have to be this way. I hear constantly from young advisers that there are very few real jobs out there, it’s all self employed.

So here is a plea. First to advisers: don’t take those positions. Leave employers who only offer self employed roles without candidates.

And employers: hire good young staff and integrate them into the business. Build you own succession plan by bringing on talent. Don’t just see advisers as a way of getting a few extra clients.

Of course, there are some for whom a self employed role works well. But, if the calls I get from young advisers are anything to go by, there are far more advisers who would love to work in a practice that genuinely wants to encourage young talent.

If the interests of the business owners and the next generation are aligned, surely this will be for the mutual benefit of both.

Chris is MD of Ovation Finance, who are currently looking to recruit a paraplanner. On an employed basis. 

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