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IFAs must widen their recruitment net to grow business

This week, the International Adviser released a report highlighting issues surrounding independent financial adviser (IFA) recruitment. According to industry experts, diversity is “key to tapping into new markets and growing business,” but finding new recruits of any kind is proving problematic.

The UK has long been the primary feeder of the international financial advice market, in part due to the high number of Western expats seeking British IFAs overseas. The retail distribution review in 2013 reported that 13,500 UK-based advisers have left the industry, resulting in an estimated 16 million consumers forfeiting access to financial advice.

Finding recruits

As this deficit in advice deepens, there is a question mark over whether the UK will still be able to produce sufficient numbers of new IFAs. If they are unable to provide adequate applicants for the offshore world, the report continues that “life companies and other product providers [may] need to look at other distribution methods.”

Lewis Greene, head of recruitment for Globaleye, explains that one reason for a lack of recruits from South East Asia is because he “[does] not think the job of adviser is marketed very well”.

Rather than focusing on attaining new recruits, in SEA the emphasis is placed on retention, with businesses like Globaleye “leveraging its local reputation” in addition to “offering financial incentives to keep existing staff.”

Greene continues: “Both the UK and international advice markets offer interesting career opportunities for advisers, and whether they choose to stay or leave the UK once qualified will be a personal decision for them.”

The diversity gap

Phillip Cernik, Friends Provident International’s chief marketing officer for the UAE, says that “a lack of diversity is limiting business prospects.” This is, in part, due to “British IFAs [who] have tended to focus on their own nationality and we are getting close to a ceiling,” he said.

As a consequence, a huge part of the market is being overlooked. “Customers prefer to deal with their own nationality because they feel they better understand their requirements. If the advisory firms want to expand they need to recruit from a wider geographic pool to service the demographic base,” he added.

Adviser academies

As a response, FPI has established a financial adviser academy in the UAE as “a pilot project in a bid to help advisers invest in technical and investment expertise.”

“This is going to help advisers break out from their traditional ground,” he said. “The whole point of the academy is to raise professional standards so advisers are more credible, customers get better advice and it improves the general market.”

However, the FPI are not the only company to have launched such an academy. South Africa’s Carrick Wealth, deVere Group, Old Mutual and Prudential are all working towards “supporting the continuous development of advisers.”

Interestingly, companies such as FPI are also introducing graduate programmes in which graduates can transition into the financial sector from a variety of fields.

Thinking of becoming a financial advisor overseas? To search the opportunities with our extensive database of employers, register with Gradlink today.


By David Gee Published: August 12, 2016


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