Talent of the future: from adviser to technical analyst and everything in between. Finding them, training them and keeping them.

Financial Advisory

27 November 2018

Advisory DistributorsEmployeeFinancial AdvisoryRecruitmentRetention


  • There has never been a more challenging time to recruit advisers and technical analysts/paraplanners. With an average adviser age that it is estimated to between 48 and 53 and with Paraplanners being so challenging to find and recruit – it is not surprising that more financial intermediaries are now looking at alternative sources of recruitment. These can be school leavers, university graduates as well as more mature candidates and those with previous careers – for example ex-military personnel.
  • Some intermediaries have recruited on an ad hoc basis whilst others have decided to set up more structured recruitment and training processes.
  • The participants outlined their experiences after Stuart Philips set out how The Private Office recruit process works, and the remainder of this document sets out what processes are used in different firms, what has worked well – and what hasn’t.

The Private Office Approach

  • The starting point is culture and work ethic; The Private Office (TPO) has a distinct culture and that forms part of the recruitment process where the company will look for and test for a range of attributes in an assessment centre held over two days with previous participants being part of the process. This follows an initial sift of CVs and a telephone interview prior to face to face interviews.
  • TPO has so far recruited 12 graduate trainees; all but two are still with the business. (One departed after a week because they were homesick, and the other after a year when it was agreed that he did not fit in with the culture.) All but two are now QCF Level 4 qualified.
  • Trainees rotate round departments spending three months in each over a period of two years, and if they show an aptitude, they may stay – for example, if they exhibit strong marketing skills.
  • There is no presumption that trainees all want or will become advisers nor that that they will become paraplanners as part of the journey.
  • Stuart was clear that TPO gets value from the trainees over the two-year period.
  • He also made the point that TPO are pragmatic so that they also recruit others as a second career such as ex-army officers.
  • From the graduates that TPO interview initially, 50% are taking Financial Services degrees, with the balance across the whole spectrum of subjects and it is noteworthy that that at second interview stage, many of those studying financial services do not get hired.
  • In addition, TPO holds regular events for its staff to enable new recruits to mix with other in the company to understand the business and culture and to help reinforce values.
  • Furthermore, the company has introduced a share scheme in which all employees have been included.
  • One other notable aspect of TPO’s approach to building their business is positive female discrimination.

What has worked well in other firms

  • It was generally agreed that recruiting graduates has been positive for the firms around the table that had done so though most had not recruited in such a structured fashion as TPO has done.
  • Another point made was that many graduates are very IT literate and can rapidly become more productive than established administrators and can be very useful when introducing new technology and processes.
  • Additionally, contrary to some assumptions, graduates tend to be hard working and they have the benefit of not for the most part having family commitments and so are happy to work longer hours when necessary on projects - for example, dealing with legacy data.
  • It was also agreed that whilst graduates often make excellent advisers, the majority will be “farmers” rather than “hunters” – i.e. they will tend to do better looking after existing clients as opposed to finding them. This therefore needs to be factored in to any firm which is seeking to grow where it will self-evidently need advisers with different skills. In TPO for example, those advisers who find clients are paid to reflect this.

What hasn’t worked well

  • One participant who recruits self-employed advisers to then run their own businesses made the point that those from military/service backgrounds did not do well as they tend to need more structure and are better suited to employment where there tends to be more structure and support.

Soft skills versus hard skills

  • There was consensus that training - especially amongst graduates – needs to focus on developing soft skills whether via role plays or on the job training and that many firms spent too little time on this area of development.

The Future

  • Firms that want to grow will increasingly need to focus on recruiting from school and university rather than seeking to find experienced advisers and paraplanners and need to plan accordingly. It will be a clear differentiator in helping to build value.

Expert: Stuart Phillips, The Private Office