Nearly 500 graduates are attending (483 to be exact). They will range in age from 24 to an impressive 69 and 30% will be women. There will be dozens of new Fellows and more than 270 new Chartered Financial Planners created today.
In a profession where the average age is around 50 these numbers are both interesting and a sign of things to come. They indicate a new profession is emerging.
The number of new female advisers being created today, for example, is double the industry average for female representation in the financial advice sector. All of this is to welcomed. It’s a sign of strength and modernisation.
I’m not one who points the finger at a profession which is largely male and white and I hate the moaners who claim that this is somehow wrong. It’s just a legacy of history - many planners would have joined the profession back in the seventies or eighties when professional life was quite different. There was little encouragement for women and younger people to join.
Now the Financial Planner of the future is more likely to be female and younger than ever before. We’ve all been impressed by the race to be the youngest qualified Chartered Financial Planner with some in their early 20s and that’s now becoming common, not the exception.
However, given the very long term nature of Financial Planning, where some clients can be advised for 30 years or more, a sense of continuity is also a good thing and the change to the profession will likely be gradual. The old guard will not quit just yet but will be able to pass on their professional wisdom. Change will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
There is still a long way to go but it is clear that all the academies, efforts to recruit trainees and apprentices and campaigns to widen the diversity of the profession are starting to pay off and the often much-maligned professional bodies and larger players deserve credit for that.
It’s also impressive that at a time when I hear some professions are struggling to find new recruits, the Financial Planning profession is continuing to grow robustly and that should not be taken for granted. There are now well over 7,000 Chartered Financial Planners in the UK and we cannot be far away from 10,000 if growth continues at current levels.
The growth of Paraplanning and other professions within the sector also continues apace.
So, many congrats to the new graduates who’ve earned their certificates and recognition today. I know for many it will have been several years of late nights and early mornings. The rewards, though, will be well worth the effort.
Kevin O’Donnell is editor of Financial Planning Today and a financial journalist with 30 years experience. This topical comment on the Financial Planning news appears most weeks.