SimplyBiz-affiliated New Model Business Academy (NMBA) is opening applications on Thursday for the first year of its apprenticeship programme.
From 22 February advice firms will be able to make applications on behalf of their staff for the scheme which is 90% government-funded.
Firms will pay £900 for the course that will take the candidate to qualified adviser status, with the option to work through NMBA to competent adviser status. The government will put in the remaining £8,100.
With only 50 places available in the first year of the scheme, NMBA managing director, Tom Hegarty (pictured) expects lots of competition as he said it had already received hundreds of expressions of interest.
As of April last year all UK companies with a payroll bill of £3 million or more have had to pay 0.5% of their pay bill into the apprenticeship levy.
Hegarty explained NMBA is the first specialist financial services company to get funding for training non-levy paying firms.
Previously, apprenticeship funding from the levy could only be used for companies which had paid in.
'Most advice firms will be non-levy paying firms but there is an option for them, even though they are not paying in, to benefit from the new terms of the apprenticeship.
'We are the only specialist financial services organisation to be awarded non-levy paying funding,' he said.
Hegarty plans to expand the scheme but said the initial round of funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency was less than had been hoped for.
'The funding we were allocated is less than we hoped we would get at £220,000 but it is enough to run an apprenticeship training programme for around 50 candidates this year.
'However, we expect to deliver apprenticeship numbers into the hundreds over the next few years. It will certainly expand- which is much needed in the sector,' he said.
Once the first cohort has been recruited the NMBA apprenticeship programme will run from 3 April.
Hegarty said there was a ‘desperate need’ for more advisers and the programme aims to help resolve that.
‘There is a desperate need for more financial advisers to meet the needs of consumers and there have been very few, if any, viable solutions to support the entry of new advisers to the sector.
‘This initiative by the NMBA is a major step forward towards solving this shortage through a modern apprenticeship programme.
‘Though a relatively modest step initially, we expect it to expand significantly over the coming years,' he said.