First posted in 2015.

JohnstonGreer is a specialist recruiter for the Financial Advice market, and a weekly occurrence is the phone call from the candidate looking to “break into Financial Advice”. Over the last 20 years that we have fielded that question the answer has changed significantly as the market has gone through dramatic change and restructure.

Our Directors started recruiting in 1994, responsible for Direct Sales Force clients including well-known names such as Allied Dunbar, Abbey and Canada Life plus the possibly less remembered General Portfolio, Albany and Confederation Life’s of the world. Many of these names still exist in some form though the direct distribution channel has long gone. Back then the candidate specification was over 25, married with a mortgage and if you were willing to work self-employed and could create a list of 100 family and friend’s phone numbers you could be a Financial Advisor in a week!

Over the following years the direct channel reduced significantly though windows of opportunity for the aspiring Financial Advisor were still around. There have been periods when the banks have embarked on campaigns to bring new blood into the profession creating schemes to train non-industry people for what by now was a qualified Advisor role. You could still at that time join one of the Home Service companies as an Agent/Advisor and quite recently a well-known brand from the U.S. was recruiting trainee “Stockbrokers”. Opportunities were fewer but if you were willing to work in a bank, go self-employed or do collections you could still find a route to becoming an Advisor.

Nowadays, in our post RDR world, the direct to customer channel is far less and when those firms recruit they require qualified and experienced candidates. The bancassurance model is being completely re-shaped as we speak with no room for the development of trainees. Home Service is no more and even the “Stockbrokers” have stopped knocking on your front door to “introduce themselves”!

So what now for our trainee salesperson? Or should we say in 2015 our trainee Financial Planner?

A route that has continued to exist throughout all of the history above is to join a firm where you can work your way up the ladder, starting in an administration role, working through the technical/paraplanner level and then eventually to Advisor. During this pathway you would gain the experience, technical skills and exams necessary to achieve that end goal though do be prepared for a timescale that will take several years rather than months. Wherever you are on that timeline, you may be new to the industry or already be in a support role, you will still face the challenge of finding a firm with the capability and time to offer such progress!

At JohnstonGreer we occasionally deal with this type of opportunity so by all means please get in touch to discuss further. However, we may advise that this is one of those opportunities that may be best sourced through your own efforts, by mapping out the wealth management firms in your area and then approaching them to outline your background and career plans.

Whether it is 1994 or 2015 working your way up the ladder with a firm is still an option for the budding IFA. What has changed is that this may be the only possibility available nowadays and they are few and far between. This of course generates other big questions about the future of the Advisor market in terms of bringing new people into financial planning and the swathes of clients being left untouched. Something will have to evolve, but despite these obvious challenges we would suggest that the days of buying a briefcase, printing some cards and proclaiming yourself a Financial Consultant on the Friday of your 5 day course is probably best left in the past!

For those determined to “break into advice” I wish you good luck on your journey.

JohnstonGreer has been operating as a recruitment agency in the Financial Advisor market since 2006 and if you would like to get in touch please call 0131 292 0777 or email info@johnstongreer.co.uk.