Employers are looking for candidates who are both superbly qualified financial services professionals and have the people skills necessary to bring in new business. Here are the skills and knowledge we have found that job seekers need advice on how to develop them and what you should know in order to get ahead.
Business development skills – why they are important
Financial services professionals with business development skills have a competitive edge in the job market. These skills are now considered integral to the way modern advisers work.
In a competitive market, these skills count because a top professional is expected to produce business for the firm and be self-sufficient. Sound business development skills help professionals to spot gaps in the market and grasp opportunities quickly. These skills allow you to create a flow of clients and introducers, such as accountants and solicitors, and assess the likelihood of developing them into actual customers.
There are a number of key business development skills. They include intelligence gathering on both clients and competitors, generating leads for possible sales and advising on strategic analysis. Networking skills and interpersonal skills can also be invaluable.
Professionals must also know how to hang on to existing customers. This means building up trail and focusing on customer care.
Business development skills can enhance an individual’s chance of being promoted to managerial level. At more senior positions, these skills will help managers to make long-term business plans, as well as working out staffing requirements to manage new activities.
Retail Distribution Review (RDR) – getting ready
Employees in the financial services sector used to be able to choose between developing their commercial skills and concentrating on becoming well-qualified.
However, when the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) rules come in on January 1, 2013, professionals will have no choice but to take a long-term view of their careers and get properly qualified if they want to get on.
At the moment, advisers need Level 3 awards, such as the Financial Planning Certificate (FPC). However, from January 1, 2013, they will require a Level 4 Diploma, which is the equivalent of the first year of a degree. Anyone without the Level 4 qualification will not be able to call themselves an Independent Financial Adviser and will be greatly restricted in what they do.
For ambitious professionals, there is simply no option other than to complete the necessary training. What training is needed depends on which category you fit into.
Existing advisers fall into three categories. First, those who already have Level 4 qualifications, or above. They will not need to worry about passing further exams, but may require some ‘qualification gap-fill’. This means they have to fill in gaps in their knowledge to meet the new standards. This can be done through a programme of structured Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
The second category is current students of Level 4, or above, qualifications. They have to complete their exams in order to be qualified, and may also require some ‘qualification gap-fill’.
Finally, there are advisers in neither of these two categories. They have to pass all their Level 4 exams, or they cannot advise on packaged products.
To further complicate matters, the January 1, 2013, deadline does not apply to everyone. There are actually three deadlines for three different groups of advisers.
First, existing advisers who were qualified by June 30, 2009, must meet all RDR qualification requirements by the December 31, 2012, deadline.
Second, existing advisers who qualified after June 30th, 2009, but before January 1, 2011, do not have to comply with the December 31, 2012, deadline. These advisers have an extra 30 months to complete an appropriate Level 4 qualification. Their deadline is, therefore, June 30th, 2013.
The third group is made up of new, or trainee, advisers, who have become competent after January 1, 2011. These advisers have 30 months to complete a relevant appropriate Level 4 qualification from when they start the relevant activity.
IFAs need to take responsibility for their own qualifications: companies will not carry people. So start today: order the revision book, make a revision plan and book the first exam.
Learn more now by downloading Four Ways to Progress Your Career as a Financial Advisor .
Guest Post: Tony Bates is the managing partner at IDEX Consulting with 8 years experience in Financial Services recruitment and specialise in the recruitment of financial planners, compliance and back office support. You can also find him on Google+ and Twitter .