Talent development critical to business worth

New advisers may have the educational knowledge but a focus on soft skills and emotional intelligence is needed for them to maintain long-term careers.

David Carney, founder of outsourcing firm Virtual Business Partners, said financial advice firms were measured on their ability to scale up their business in the future, which meant the long-term development of staff was crucial.

This was a change from previous years when acquirers looked at firms’ funds under management and recurring revenue whereas now the focus was on profitability and scalability.

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This was particularly the case given the ‘Great Resignation’ environment brought on by the pandemic and general exit of advisers from the industry.

Carney said: “It is more important than ever for businesses to show they are able to grow and are able to scale up and attracting talent is the number one challenge there. You’ve got to be able to provide career paths or employee share programs.

“Clients are often asking if we know any good advisers, they are really desperate to find staff.”

He said many new advisers had met the education requirements but needed help to learn the soft skills for dealing with clients which was a skill that could be developed on their professional year.

“That is what differentiates a good adviser, we have put so much into the legislation and the education that we have missed the soft skills. The real good advisers are the ones who can develop those soft skills,” Carney said.

“Twenty or 30 years ago, it was probably the opposite where people were put in front of clients without having the knowledge but that was a different time.”

To help them gain these skills, firms were offering to mentor new advisers and understood that the pathway to becoming an adviser had changed since they joined the profession.

“Advisers of the future don’t want to repeat the career path of advisers in the past where they joined the industry via a bank or worked in an admin or paraplanning role before becoming an authorised representative. That’s antiquated now,” he said.

“The practices that we deal with, they have developed their own mentoring programmes and helping [new advisers] to engage with clients and fast track that experience.

“This is an opportunity for businesses to think not just about the next few years but to look at how they can develop the next generation of advisers and have a clear pathway for them. Those businesses will be so much more valuable in the future.”

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