The financial advice industry has given two thumbs up to the UK government’s decision to bring forward its apprenticeship reforms to April 2019, announced in the chancellor of the Exchequer’s Spring Statement on 13 March.
Plans to invest £700m ($926m, €819m) for apprenticeship funding in England were introduced in 2018’s Autumn Budget.
The reforms apply to employers with a workforce in England, providers who offer training for English apprenticeships, organisations that provide end point assessment for English apprenticeship, and individual apprentices.
Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, said to International Adviser: “The investment in the next generation of financial advisers through apprenticeship training programmes is good news for adviser businesses and the growing number of consumers who need advice.
“Apprenticeships allow new talent to gain valuable insight into the advice profession, whilst learning on the job.
“With more people building up defined contribution pensions under auto enrolment, and with pension freedoms opening a wider range of options, there is an increasing benefit in seeking advice and the supply of advice needs to keep pace with demand.
“The next generation of financial advisers have a significant role to play in bridging the advice gap. Many experienced financial advisers are now nearing retirement age themselves and it is vital that they pass their expertise onto the next generation of fresh talent looking to join the industry.”
What is on offer?
The government said it would make £450m available to enable levy paying employers to transfer up to 25% of their funds to pay for apprenticeship training.
It also pledged up to £5m to the Institute for Apprenticeships and National Apprenticeship Service for 2019/20, in a bid to tackle gaps in the training provider market and increase the number of employer-designed apprenticeship standards available to employers.
Caroline Bradley, group risk and regulatory director at advisory network Tenet Group, told IA: “Apprenticeships are a proven way to attract, retain and develop a skilled workforce and offer a great route for new blood into the industry from outside the usual channels.
“As an industry, we struggle to attract new talent and they offer a fantastic way, particularly for women and other demographics under-represented in the investment sector, to develop specialist new skills and learn whilst they earn.”
Lucy Courtenay, director of government and regulator relations at CFA Institute, said the association was happy with the decision, and spoke about the qualifications on offer that will benefit from the funding.
She told IA: “CFA Institute study programmes are included in apprenticeship standards at Level 6 and Level 7, providing aspiring investment management professionals with an apprenticeship route into work that includes study towards the highest qualification in the profession.”