Focus on growing skills not ticking boxes in PY

Recognising new entrants’ existing skills is a good way for a business to get the most of a professional year (PY) candidate, according to a provisional adviser.

Speaking to Money Management, provisional financial adviser Alex Holmes said the firm where he was doing his PY, Ellerfield Financial Planning in Queensland, opted for an accelerator route as Holmes had already worked at the firm for three years as a paraplanner and client services manager.

This allowed Holmes to spend more of his PY in front of clients and less on back-office data input as the firm had already established his competency.

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“I’m in an associate role so my roles are mainly client facing such as answering client queries on the phone, proofing documents, writing strategies and presenting them to clients with my supervisor,” Holmes said.

“You do need to know the back-office parts as well but a big enticement for me was not being tied up in things I could already do for the sake of a tick box. This way I am able to spend time growing my skills which will be a benefit for the business and the clients.”

Giving his recommendations for any financial planning firms who were considering a PY, Holmes said: “Make sure you are across the various requirements and know who you are targeting.

“Do you want a candidate who is completely new or someone who already has some background experience? Put together a PY plan which that will not only get the most out of the candidate but will also be best for the business.”

Holmes, who completed a degree in commerce following a decade in hospitality, said financial planning appealed as he wanted a career where he was able to meet and help people but that was more family-friendly and offered the opportunity to grow.

He had since completed the Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority exam (FASEA) and was mid-way through his PY which he said had been a “good experience”. He previously offered to work unpaid for the firm during his degree which, he said, allowed him to “hit the ground running” after graduation.

“It can cost $5,000 to $10,000 but luckily my firm could see the benefit in having the continuity and were willing to take the gamble but the investment in time and money can be a big hurdle,” he said.

“Studies along with 1,600 hours is a lot but if you are driven then you can get it done.”

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So this guy worked as an unpaid intern, as well as 3 years as a paraplanner and client services manager, in the firm that ultimately gave a him a PY place. Plus he had the maturity and life experience of someone who had worked for 10 years in another field prior to his FP studies.

That's how it works folks. Anyone who thinks they'll go straight from school to uni to a paid PY position is dreaming.

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