The first intake in the Ascot Lloyd Financial Adviser Academy are well on their way to becoming fully fledged independent financial advisers and applications are now open for the next intake.
The results are in and we at Ascot Lloyd are delighted to reveal that the students in the first-ever intake of our Financial Adviser Academy enjoyed a 100% pass rate in their CII exams for the level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning.
Ascot Lloyd launched the 12-month Adviser Academy programme earlier this year to help ensure it maintains a strong and diverse adviser talent base to serve its clients and growth plans in the years ahead. Attracting younger talent to the financial advice industry is imperative as IFAs are, on average, in their late 50s, meaning a big portion of existing advisers are approaching retirement.
The current IFA workforce is also largely male, with FCA records showing only 16% of regulated financial advisers in the UK are women. Increased gender diversity of IFAs will better reflect the demographic of IFA clients and will be better placed to both attract and service their needs. The Ascot Lloyd Adviser Academy provides an important channel to attract more women into the profession
“Considering the average pass rates for many of the CII RO exams is around 70%, we are thrilled that our first intake of Academy students have all done so well with their first time pass rates on their exams,” says Duncan Gregory, who heads up the Adviser Academy. “We are also thrilled the intake comprised of over 40% females, which is massively above the industry average. These are important steps to bringing more gender diversity to our sector.”
Beyond the traditional path
To attract new demographics to the industry, Ascot Lloyd has designed the application process in a way that searches beyond traditional routes to financial services. A degree is not required, nor is any prior financial experience – or even a pre-existing baseline understanding of finance.
Instead, Ascot Lloyd is keen to find people with the right traits to be a successful adviser. Career changers or returners to work are encouraged to apply, and age is no barrier. Indeed, the first intake, who started on the programme in April, included people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s.
“It helps if you have an interest in money and finance, but actually the more important things we look for are a passion for helping people and a great work ethic,” says Gregory. “I want people who are not just looking for a job to pay the bills but who are driven and determined to do a great job for clients. I also love to talk to candidates who can evidence their resilience. How they recover and learn from any setbacks is a crucial ingredient for any successful IFA.
In return, Academy students get a fully funded training route into the financial advice sector where they are employed from day one. Unlike other advice firms, Ascot Lloyd provides its advisers with a bank of clients to service, rather than having to source their own, as well as comprehensive marketing, admin and technical support and whole-of-market solutions to offer.
“The opportunities to prosper are significant. If you're prepared to work hard then you can build a brilliant career with long-term prospects,” Gregory adds. “At the end of the programme, you get to decide whether to work as a field-based adviser or more of a remote telephony adviser, a lot of which depends on your lifestyle. If you need to be more home-based, perhaps because you have childcare obligations, then the latter can accommodate that. One of the women on our course is returning to financial services after a gap of quite a few years to raise her child. The blended approach to learning and the autonomy and flexibility provided in the role is why the Ascot Lloyd Adviser Academy route appealed to her so much”.
A new career
One person who leapt at the opportunity the Academy provides to accelerate her path into the financial advice industry is Ally Lee. Having previously run her own IT and telecoms recruitment business for 10 years, Ally found herself feeling unfulfilled with her career. As someone who likes to constantly be growing and learning, she also lacked people around her to aid her development.
Having been an Ascot Lloyd client herself and loved the service she received, Ally thought it was a job she’d enjoy doing herself, working with people, getting to understand them, and helping ensure their money is looked after and working for them. When she heard about the new Adviser Academy, it was the push she needed to take the plunge in selling her business.
The interview process for the Academy, Ally found, was very thorough. As well as assessing competency, strengths and motivations, applicants are tasked with building a development plan and presenting it along with a client scenario role play. Ally was successful in joining the inaugural intake.
Having completed the first part of the programme in August, which focused on studying for the diploma and shadowing existing Ascot Lloyd financial advisers in the field, Ally has already learned that being an IFA differs from her expectations but is what she wants to do long term.
“Previously I was quite ignorant to what financial advisers actually do,” she says. “Although I had taken advice myself and I knew it was a valuable role, I didn't realise how much work behind the scenes goes into it. I always thought there was a vagueness to the world of tax, investments and pensions which led to poor awareness about personal finance. It’s one of the reasons I really look forward to being a financial adviser because I want to ensure my clients know what I'm doing for them and understand the journey we are going on together.
“As I was previously self-employed, I was a little nervous about going back to being employed, but the way Ascot Lloyd operates is kind of like you’re building your own client base within their business, with all the support of their back-office admin, HR and technical knowledge. So, it's a really good transition if you have been self-employed and are moving back to being employed.”
Supporting your growth
Stage two of the Academy programme, which Ally and her group embark on this month, is classroom-based and covers the end-to-end cycle of advice, process and proposition. The final part, starting in January, provides in-the-field practical experience, applying the knowledge they gained in parts one and two while also being introduced to existing and new Ascot Lloyd clients.
“I just love the job, and the company too,” Ally adds. “Ascot Lloyd has been very supportive. As there are so many experts in the company, there are always people to learn from. There's a lot of technical knowledge to learn, but also so many people who want to help you. Everybody I've met in the business wants us to succeed and does everything in their power to help us do so.
“I like to help people. It's a passion of mine and in this job, you can make a genuine difference to people's lives. It’s also interesting – there’s so much to learn in financial advice and it's always evolving. If you are passionate about helping people, you should really consider a career in financial advice. It’s not only a rewarding career but there are amazing opportunities to thrive.”
The Ascot Lloyd Financial Adviser Academy is now accepting applications for its next intake, which starts in April 2024. If you want to learn about the options open to you, download our careers brochure here.