Grads grab chance to impress advice firms at matchmaking event

For students, life is fairly straightforward in many ways. There is a structure to exams at school and university, often leading to a clearly defined graduate training course.

The big four accountancy firms, Magic Circle law firms and engineering companies are a constant presence at careers fairs, ready to bring students on board their graduate schemes and training programmes.

But for financial planning, this graduate route is less clear. Which is why the young advisers at NextGen Planners are trying to change that.

Earlier this month, the group organised a boot camp at Manchester Metropolitan University. 15 students were put to the test by 14 advice firms hoping to take on new talent. The day included speed dating-style conversations between advisers and students, team problem solving exercises and Ted Talk-style presentations from the students, all in the hope of trying to impress some potential employers.

The event brought to light the desire of so many advisers in the UK to get young people into their firms. It also showed there are good quality students eager to get into financial planning. The event, the first of its kind for the university, could prompt more boot camps at different universities in a bid to address the urgent shortage of young advisers coming through.

Adam Carolan

Co-founder of NextGen Planners and managing director at Xentum

I was at the event with two hats; with Xentum to look for new recruits, and with NextGen to put these guys through their paces and see if they are ready to enter the financial planning profession.

There were plenty of employers in the room, and we were all looking to bring people into our businesses and train them in the right way.

For Xentum, it is all about attitude over aptitude from the students. Are they hungry? Are they looking to come into financial planning? Can we train them, and are they employable? We tested them on their presentation and communication skills.

For us at NextGen, the event was a test to see if it was successful. If it is, we will expand it through the country. We have a number of universities who want to get involved. We need to listen to employers and say, ‘Is this a good setting to meet new graduates to bring them into your businesses?’

At Xentum we are pretty committed to bringing in people and training them the right way. I went from trainee to managing director. Now I need to start building my succession plan. I need bring people into my business that will be able to take my job and be better than me in a few years’ time. That is how we train our people at Xentum.

Josh Butten

Director of boosst financial

NextGen Planners highlights the need for young people. It gives them a platform, but that does not help us physically take people from university and put them in the job. Events like this are really going to link those two things together.

I was really impressed by the standard of the students at the event. The main things I am looking for are honesty and integrity. But also people who care – everything else we can train. Our trainee programme is a four-to-five-year programme. We get people to chartered status, but we cannot teach them how to care about clients.

Joanne Bambrick

Senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University

This was the first time the department has ever done anything like this, we have never done a boot camp with so many employers before. We are hoping this is the start of a relationship with NextGen, and we can do it annually.

This all came about thanks to Adam Owen, who is one of the directors of NextGen. He got in touch with the university about coming in and speaking with us. The culmination of about six months’ work was having 15 students and 14 employers in the room, hopefully with some job opportunities for the students. This was an opportunity for the students to showcase their skills and show why they want to be in the profession. Some of them want to be advisers and some of them want to be paraplanners, so we looked to see who fits where.

My message to other advisers who want young recruits is, we have got some really keen students with heaps of skills. They want to do it, they want to learn and there are lots of opportunities for them to work with you.

Russell Facer

Managing director at threesixty

Financial services does not get the best press at times, but there are actually loads of good things happening. Adam Carolan presented at the event and highlighted the circumstances he can help with individual clients, which had nothing to do with products whatsoever. The goals is helping with circumstances, and how we can help improve people’s lives. Part of the day focused on understanding the broader picture of financial services.

The students were really keen, really interested and passionate about what we are doing. They want clearer paths to where they want to be, but the actual energy in the room was phenomenal.

From our side of things, if there is someone who would be a good fit for threesixty, we would love to employ someone. But at the same time, if there is not a role within the company, we have many client firms that are interested in recruiting and developing.