NMBA gets apprenticeship approval from Skills Funding Agency
Tom Hegarty, managing director of the New Model Business Academy, said the accreditation would allow it to launch financial apprenticeship programmes in administration, workplace benefits consultancy, paraplanning and financial advice from July this year.
He said if there were demand from the membership, they might also consider providing a mortgage advice apprenticeship, as "it can be a good step on the ladder towards becoming a fully-fledged financial adviser".
According to the Skills Funding Agency, approval to provide government-supported apprenticeships have been awarded to 1,708 groups, ranging from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, through to Rentokil and the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
But financial names in the frame are few and far between, with Barclays Bank, the London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF) and NMBA among just a handful on the list.
Earlier this year, Old Mutual Wealth's Financial Adviser School told FTAdviser it also hoped to be given approval by the Skills Funding Agency and be added to the register of apprenticeship training providers.
"The whole industry needs to work harder to get more people into financial advice"
At the time, Darren Smith, head of the school, which was bought by Old Mutual Wealth/Intrinsic from Sesame Bankhall Group in 2016, said the school was "revamping" its proposition to deliver a five-exam course in the first half of 2017.
He also told FTAdviser the school was putting active recruitment into its training programme "on hold" while it waited to hear whether its submission as a financial apprenticeship training provider would be approved.
But neither Old Mutual Wealth nor the Financial Adviser School (FAS) appear on the current list supplied by the Skills Funding Agency of approved advisers.
Mr Smith said: "FAS applied separately and we have had confirmation from the SFA that our registration should be confirmed in May."
In February this year, the Financial Adviser School received trusted partner status with the LIBF, which has been given approval by the Skills Funding Agency.
Mr Smith added: "The fact that the LIBF received approval definitely assists FAS. We are still planning for our first apprenticeship induction at the end of May and currently have seven students signed up, with another 15 attending our assessment centre next week."
The launch of the financial advice standard in November last year was hailed at the time as a significant step forward in helping to reduce the time-cost burden on adviser-employers in training up new blood, while ensuring the financial advisory profession was bringing new people into the fold.
The apprenticeship scheme can make up to £9,000 available for each candidate, although Mr Hegarty said that if an apprentice has already been skilled up in one area, the funding could be less.
The cost to a firm of training an apprentice to become a qualified adviser through the NMBA scheme would be £1,000 "maximum", he said, in addition to the salary cost of the apprentice.
A bolt-on qualification, to achieve competent adviser status, is also available through NMBA, as Mr Hegarty explains: "Simply becoming qualified is not enough: the theory is one thing but you need to achieve competent adviser status before you can give advice."
"The whole industry needs to work harder to get more people into financial advice", Mr Hegarty said, although it is not "just a numbers game", he added.
He explained: "There has, unfortunately, been a simultaneous decrease in the number of advisers in the market; in 1988 there were 250,000 advisers operating in the UK; in 2016 there are approximately 25,000.
"However, this isn't just a numbers game. Although new blood is desperately needed for the adviser pool, it is imperative that new recruits offer quality, rather than solely quantity."