About 88 individuals are already set to commence the training in the first half of this year. The first cohort will begin in March, followed by four additional ones in May, across Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and London.
As a result of the overwhelming response, the PFS is looking to extend the programme.
PFS chief executive Keith Richards said: “We have been delighted by the response from financial advice firms, who are clearly looking for new pathways to develop their staff and support the next generation of financial advisers across the country.”
He said: “As the leading professional body for the personal finance sector, we are committed to driving new initiatives that address the very real and ongoing risk of future skills shortages and the evident need for succession planning.”
“Our development programme removes many of the barriers facing firms that seek to develop new talent in our sector, and provides a tangible programme of training and support.”
Together with its accredited training partner, FWD Training & Consultancy, the PFS is in discussions with hundreds of interested firms, and is planning to deliver the programme to additional groups from September.
Comprising a combination of apprenticeship funding and PFS sponsorship, the structured training programme lasts 18 months, during which participants achieve the necessary qualifications and skills required to become a fully qualified financial adviser.
All six diploma exams (R01 - R06) are included, as well as all support material including textbooks and remote learning support. Regional exam revision sessions will be made available to all participants, as well as soft skills workshops delivered by an accredited trainer.
The programme’s launch follows the development of the new Financial Adviser apprenticeship standard, which was sponsored by the PFS and approved by the Department for Education in November. It offers employers up to £9,600 in financial assistance to contribute towards the development of a competent financial adviser.
A recent PFS survey revealed that more than three quarters of advice firms were considering taking on additional staff in the next three years, but more than one in five (22%) said a lack of talent and skilled trainees was a major short-term threat to the success of their business.
The PFS programme is available to any employed member of staff who works a minimum 30 hours per week, with additional assistance available for firms seeking to employ new recruits into the programme. It is currently available to employees based in England, while policy clarification is sought for apprenticeship funding in the devolved regions.
An employer contribution of £900 will be required for staff aged 19 or older, but for firms with less than 50 employees where the starting age is less than 19, no contribution is required. There is an additional £1000 incentive available for any size business enrolling an existing or new employee aged less than 19 into the programme.