Jo-Anne Bloch (left) and Alisdair Barr

Newer, tech-aligned industries pose a bigger threat in the hunt for talent than other financial services professions according to recruitment firm Striver.

While the lack of new entrants coming into the industry has been well noted, as has the war on talent, Striver founder Alisdair Barr tells Professional Planner the advice sector is also not attracting the right talent.

“I don’t think it’s a new problem but we’re not getting the interest of talent early enough at university and we’re losing them to large corporations like Google, Atlassian and technology and software industries that are creating more interesting opportunities for young people.”

Barr says traditionally banks and accounting firms were the major competitors for talent, but this changed to an increase in the diversity of professions available to young adults.

“We need to come together and look at ways or collectively have a voice back into the universities. It’s [about] talking to young people about the attractiveness of the broader wealth management profession and competing for that talent earlier on.”

Even with the limited supply coming through, practices often can’t find work for them. In January, Barr noted previously the industry needs 2,500 to 3,000 people coming into support and customer services roles who have completed some of the education requirements.

“That’s what we’re focusing on: how do we collectively get all the players in the profession and industry together to create a voice that actually gets the interest and passion of young people earlier on so we can get the lion’s share of them as they come out of university,” Barr says.

Practices have struggled to structure effective programs to foster talent, he continues, although some are aligning their offering to better bring talent through the system, which has also been noted in a recent Professional Planner podcast.

Barr founded Striver in 2013 and it has since grown to a network of 550 clients in financial planning, accounting and information technology.

“There’s a lot of demand [for talent in financial advice] and we haven’t seen an increase in supply which means quality businesses have to demonstrate their ability to compete for talent and get the employee value proposition right.”

Former Financial Planning Association chief executive Jo-Anne Bloch recently joined Striver as independent chair of the advisory board, with the appointment coming as Striver approaches its 1,000th graduate placement.

Bloch says the advice profession must plant the seed early in the education process which is what other industries are doing.

“There’s a huge amount of competition from all sorts of sectors including the big accounting firms, the big tech firms, the big brands.”

Long term questions marks

The institutional exodus from advice has taken away key suppliers and trainers of new talent, although there are exceptions like AMP, Insignia and Zurich’s new Assure business for risk advisers.

Barr says smaller firms are disillusioned about the prospect of hiring advisers to do their Professional Year only to have them leave once they’ve completed their obligation.

“They’re losing people at the end of the PY to people who are offering $20,000 extra [a year in salary]. What we see really work is when people hire or invest in people earlier on, build a relationship and a cultural fit over a couple of years before investing in the PY.”

Bloch adds that it is very much an employee’s market.

“There are still people out there that can’t find jobs and there are jobs that still can’t find people. I don’t want to call it a war because I hate that aggressive language, but it is a challenge.”

One comment on “Advice competing with big tech for talent”
  1. Avatar
    Jeremy Wright

    If you look back and ask how many current and past Financial Advisers came from University, directly into the Financial Planning Industry, it would show a tiny percentage.

    Most Advisers fell into Planning, either by a change of career, or by starting in another role and migrating to advise.

    The difference today, is the barrier to entry is so high that people who “would of” and previously, “could of,” do not even attempt to join.

    The reason? The Government and the Industry has made it clear that they will favour University qualified graduates, who lets face it, have little to offer except enthusiasm and an expectation of a high salary and benefits befitting a king or queen, though unfortunately do not have what clients want, which is life experience and someone who has actually “done” what they preach.

    The world has gone mad.

    Why bring in to the Industry, people who have the soft skills such as the ability to communicate and years of hands on experience working in the real world, when we can instead say to clients, it’s not important what you want, it is what the Government and the Education lobbyists tell you what you need, that matters.

    The Life Insurance Industry is reeling because of this insane insistence that to be a specialist risk Adviser, you first need to spend years and many thousands of dollars studying irrelevant subjects that have NOTHING to do with the work you will do.

    The end result of this madness and Utopian vision, has been to see a massive decline of Life Insurance Advisers and virtually NIL Uni graduates who want to specialise in risk advice.

    Separate risk advice from Investment advice and make it less a minefield, more a clear path with incentives to want to join and for future Employers to be able to profitably employ them, then we could see a better future.

    The current path is a perpetual maze with few daring to enter.

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