The latest cohort of graduates saw 61 qualified advisers seeking a new career in Financial Planning and wealth management following the completion of their specific programme.
The 500th graduate is Michael Allen, an ex-professional rugby player who spent eight years playing in the Guinness Pro12 league, firstly for his home team of Ulster, then moving to Edinburgh Rugby in 2015.
Following uncertainty regarding a contract extension, Mr Allen, at just 26 years old, had to consider the potential of a new career.
He made the decision that becoming a Financial Planner was the career change for him mainly due to “the longevity and flexibility that a career in wealth management offers, and the excitement of a new challenge”.
He is now a qualified Financial Planner in Edinburgh having graduated from the St James’s Place Academy.
Mr Allen is now managing clients working with SJP Partner Practice, Tweed Wealth Management.
The Academy first opened its doors in 2012 and gives individuals the opportunity to undergo a training programme in one of its four regional academy offices in London, Manchester, Solihull & Edinburgh, enabling them to change careers to become Financial Planners within the St James’s Place Partnership.
They can build their own business or join one of the established St James’s Place Practices as an adviser.
SJP says its Academy and Next Generation Academy continue to grow, “with around 444 individuals currently studying on active programmes nationwide and with a graduation ceremony taking place in November this year”.
Shaun Godfrey, head of academy marketing and engagement, St James’s Place, said: “Reaching 500 graduates is a significant milestone for the Academy, and we are proud of the contribution they have all made to the financial advice industry over the years.
“Numbers entering our Academy programmes continue to grow and as the requirement for sound financial advice increases, we can be confident of the long-lasting value brought to the financial services sector.
“The Academy provides an important and innovative programme bridging the skills gap evident in the UK and continues to seek new talent to introduce to this highly skilled profession.”
Academy candidates come from a wide range of backgrounds but are often people looking for a career change or a new challenge.
Examples of recent candidates include a personal trainer, an ex-British Army officer, a Chamber of Commerce operations manager, an ex-professional golfer and a business development manager.
Close to a third (32% in 2018) of all people to have joined the Academy since its inception are women and at 34, the average age of graduates was said to be “significantly lower than the average across the industry”.