It is paramount the financial advice sector increases the number of advisers in the UK.
The industry needs to come up with interesting ways to stop the rot, as numbers continue to dwindle.
Firms like St James’s Place have done their part by opening up academies, which have brought through many people from different backgrounds, including second careerists like sports people.
SJP Academy’s 500th graduate, Michael Allen, was an ex-professional rugby player, who spent eight years playing in the Guinness Pro12 league for Ulster and Edinburgh Rugby.
Following uncertainty regarding a contract extension; Allen, at just 26 years’ old, had to consider the potential of a new career and made the decision to become a financial planner.
He is now a qualified financial planner in Edinburgh and is now working at partner practice Tweed Wealth Management where he is managing clients.
So, what makes a former rugby player join the ranks of financial advisers?
“I wanted a job that would give me the ability to be a hands-on dad,” Allen told International Adviser.
“My first child was born only a couple of months into this career change, and I knew that a self-employed role, such as this, could give me the flexibility to work around my life and my wife’s schedule as a doctor in the NHS.
“I also wanted to test myself with the initial studying and learning on the job and see where it could take me.
“Now, I enjoy interacting with my clients on a day-to-day basis and helping them navigate important financial decisions.”
Going from the world of rugby to the advice sector is not the easiest transition but Allen believes there are experiences that you can transfer over to the industry.
“From my experience, I don’t think you need a background in finance,” he added. “Becoming a financial planner meant going into the unknown.
“But I relied on the fact that I was going to be able to take life skills learned from playing professional rugby for eight seasons and apply them to the ‘real world’.
“My rugby career, both on and off the pitch, gave me my drive to succeed, helped me develop interpersonal skills when talking to the team and to fans, and gave me a certain work ethic and a determination to prove myself off the pitch.
“I knew that this wasn’t enough to pass the exams, but hard work and a sense of direction was what pushed me on while studying which I hadn’t done since school A-Levels, and truthfully something I didn’t think I was very good at.
“However, things are much different as an adult and I found that all I needed to do was to apply myself and the results reflected this.”
The latest figures show that 56% of the people joining the SJP Academy are from a non-financial services background; such as sports, military, owner managed business, IT, car distribution and teaching.
The firm said that these are the core attributes it looks for in second careerists:
- Persuading and influencing;
- Presenting and communicating information;
- Entrepreneurial and commercial thinking;
- Deciding and initiating action;
- Applying expertise and technology; and,
- Achieving personal work goals and objectives.
Shaun Godfrey, head of academy marketing and engagement at SJP, told IA: “To join the Academy to become a financial planner, no set experiences are required.
“We are looking for second careerists who have been successful in their jobs and look at the core attributes they can bring to St James’s Place, rather than any experience in financial services.”
There does not seem to be a great deal of pathways for second careerists to help them join the sector.
Allen said he didn’t receive any help from his club at the time of retirement, which he admitted “was difficult”.
“I made contact with a player liaison, Pamela Gilpin, from the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) who covered my previous club, Ulster Rugby, and she very kindly offered to help me even though I was an ex-player,” Allen added.
“She was a brilliant sounding-post and kept me thinking straight during a very nerve-racking time. I enquired about SJP through a mutual friend, Paul Rowley, who at the time was coming to the end of his SJP Academy training.
“Together, we discussed the chances I had of getting onto the programme and if it was viable option for someone without any experience or background in financial services.
“Paul gave me the same advice I would give to anyone in a similar position to myself: ‘If I can do it so can you’.”
Godfrey said that engaging with organisations like the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment would be a good starting point for second careerists.
However, going to these institutions would not be a first thought for many second careerists.
Which begs the question, what more can be done to advertise the sector for sportspeople to join the industry?
Allen said there is a “difficulty” because players do not know what will be next for them, and the profession is not “considered by many”, even if it “can be very suitable”.
Godfrey added that the academy works with various organisations, such as Life After Professional Sport and Switch the Play, in a bid to advertise the sector as a career path.
“These organisations are great at helping sports people understand the need to plan their transition away from their chosen sport,” said Godfrey.
“We have run regular sessions with various sporting communities such as rugby clubs, football clubs, where we talk about the transition away from sport, and showcase an example of someone who has done it. If you want a safe place to bet on any of those athletes, sites like star casino belgium are readily available.
“However, we think that the advertising of this profession should not be limited to just sportspeople.”
The firm said it looks to recruit people from a variety of backgrounds and have several other partnerships with organisations such as the Officers Association, MRHQ – Military Resettlement, Women Returners Professional Network.
Helping sports stars
After these second careerists finally take the jump into the advice sector, there is a common assumption that the clients they will work with have shared experiences or come from similar backgrounds.
However, Allen said that this is “not necessarily” the case, as he works with clients of all ages and professions.
But he is keen to have an “increased focus on sports professionals going forward”.
“During my time as a player, I didn’t receive any financial advice and suffered from it when my career came to an abrupt end over two years ago,” said Allen.
“I want to improve financial education in the sporting world because I don’t think it is readily given or talked about enough.
“Mental health is a major factor in a player’s life, both while playing but more significantly in retirement.
“One of the biggest worries is with regards to their finances and how to keep a home and a family running smoothly when the pay cheques stop.
“If, through prior planning, a player can retire and the worry of finances is addressed early, I honestly believe retirement would be an easier hurdle to overcome.”