Bringing young people into the advice profession is a passion of mine.
It's an issue that is close to my heart and one that I have a measure of experience in, having not only hired a graduate into my firm, but also because I work with my son Mitchell. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about working with Mitchell beforehand, and didn't want to influence his decision to join us. It had to be Mitchell’s own decision.
As a parent, you think you know your children, but until you've worked with them, I think it's fair to say you probably don't them as well as you think.
Mitchell has been working with us for just over a year now as a paraplanner, having completed his financial services apprenticeship. I have to say, having him in the business has been an absolute pleasure. Mitchell’s progress has been remarkable, he has learned a huge amount in a short period of time and is a valuable member of our team.
In July, we also recruited Steven, who graduated from the University of Surrey with a first class honours degree in business management. Steven first started working with us last year during his holidays from university and very quickly picked up the role.
Mitchell and Steven are now on the pathway to becoming diploma qualified and have serious ambitions to become chartered financial planners in the future.
What's been particularly interesting for me is to see how having young people in the business can make such a positive difference to the way we work.
Our clients are at the heart of everything we do, so Mitchell and Steven are being trained and developed to over-deliver on this essential requirement.
To date, Mitchell and Steven have been instrumental in the redesign of our website and have been integral to the work we've carried out on discretionary fund manager, platform and multi-asset due diligence. The results of their hard work are reflected through our centralised investment proposition document.
Mitchell and Steven are currently reviewing our back-office system, specifically looking at data storage solutions. What they've found so far makes for interesting reading, particularly when you look at data security and investigate this further through your due diligence.
We've recently introduced an office tablet with a data package which has allowed us to remotely access and update client data. Mitchell and Steven attend client meetings and update client records, while I remain engaged with the client.
There have been many occasions where Mitchell and Steven have carried out cashflow modelling and risk profile assessments, so that I can deliver the results instantly at the meeting. Our clients have been very impressed with the speed of delivery and the high quality of presentation.
After all client meetings we have a feedback session to see what has been learned and to discuss the way forward.
By attending client meetings they've also benefited from the development of their interpersonal skills. They are becoming extremely confident, and this in turn has helped accelerate their learning as they observe me giving advice. This helps them understand and consolidate what they've been learning.
Employing Mitchell and Steven has been a real eye-opener, particularly the speed with which they are able to interpret the tools we use and their functionality. It's clear they bring a different level of insight and perspective when it comes to technology.
Succession planning, and ‘being open’
In terms of my succession planning, the aim is that within the next five years Mitchell and Steven will be diploma-qualified and progressing towards becoming chartered financial planners. This will give them the opportunity to work with our chartered accountant partners, and to segment the client bank.
As well as having them observe client meetings, we are supporting Mitchell and Steven with their training and development through things like seminars, weekly team meeting and weekly group study sessions.
Clients regularly ask me when I’m thinking of retiring. While I have no plans to retire at this time, I do think they need to know that Berry Wealth Management is not solely dependent on Colin, and that there is a team behind the scenes that are making me look good!
For me, working with Mitchell and Steven is about giving them responsibility, it’s not about abdicating that responsibility, so I check their work and give them feedback on how they can improve.
I have a responsibility to my clients, but also to my team. I need to provide encouragement and nurture their professional development.
I believe there is a huge opportunity for advisers to harness young talent, as there is an abundance of graduates out there looking for a career. Young people learn incredibly quickly, but they need the opportunity and freedom to do so.
While they will clearly need some support in the early stages, they don't need a huge amount – they have their own style of learning and have an enormous capacity and ability to learn.
We need to give the impression that we are open for business in terms of attracting younger people into the profession. By supporting younger talent, it's not only those individuals that stand to gain, but the wider advice profession.