The changing tide of adviser roles

Ovation currently has a vacancy for an adviser (and will soon be looking to take on another paraplanner). Our search is revealing some interesting points about the current state of the industry which I’d like to share. Some of you may not like what I have observed or may disagree with me, which is, of course, fine. I am only following the advice of Roy Walker – say what you see.

It seems there are a lot of advisers seeking new opportunities because they do not like the sales focussed, product orientated approach of their current employer. Such candidates are often looking to leave larger firms or banks.

A second feature of these advisers is that they are struggling to find a new role which meets their salary expectations.

Now to me and the two recruiters we use (and only two – please don’t recruitment firms take this as a hint to call me!) this seems a pretty obvious dichotomy. If you want to earn the big money it is still there to be made, but you need to be good at bringing in clients and/or good at selling products. If you want less pressure on generating income, perhaps to advise clients on a more long term, review orientated basis involving objective setting and life planning, you need to accept you aren’t going to earn as much.

There is currently a third opportunity, I am told. It seems many of the more technical candidates are being hired by banks to conduct past business reviews on a temporary contract basis. This presents a hugely depressing irony. The more knowledgeable people in the industry are being lured by large sums of money to help banks clear the mess they created for themselves by misselling products to people, rather than taking jobs in small firms helping new clients (maybe even some of the same people) to create financial plans and gain clarity over their financial future.

Back to our requirements. We asked our recruiters this time to only send us people who would be right for us. People who really understand what logging time and being fee based really means, people who get life planning and see its merit both for the client and for the firm. Someone who is really team based, in practice not just in theory. People who expect to be judged not by sales but by client retention. After three months they haven’t found any.

I was given one example of a young adviser with less than two year’s experience offered a choice of an OTE package of £52k with a bank or £36k with a financial planning type small firm. He’s not happy with the what the bank role requires of him, but there’s a new baby on the way and, well, who can blame him for taking the money.

Post RDR every firm markets themselves as fee based. Interest in life planning has never been greater, seminars on how to use coaching techniques are selling out fast, Paul Armison is telling advisers in their droves how to focus on the client not the product. And yet there are very few candidates seeking opportunities to join such firms.

What conclusions would I draw from this?

  1. Some of those firms are using the term ‘fee based’ in a pretty loose sense (for example a firm that quotes a ‘fixed fee of 3%’). They remain transactional in their nature and the advisers are still targeted by income rather than (for example) client retention.

  2. Those advisers at firms who are genuinely fee based and providing relationship based advice are quite happy where they are.

  3. There is a plethora of advisers who are faced with a difficult decision. Either take a job with high earnings but which you don’t enjoy, or take a job that you enjoy and allows you to sleep at night but which doesn’t allow you to earn as much.

Your comments please.