Harness the power of professions
there’s a news story that never seems to go away, and it’s the continuing difficulties faced by workers in their 20s and 30s who are trying to gain a secure foothold in the workplace.
There’s a plenitude of part-time and contract positions, but a shrinking number of fairly paid, permanent positions with benefits and a reasonable degree of job security. According to 2015 research, 52% of workers in the burgeoning Golden Horseshoe area of Ontario rely on precarious work.
If you want to be an architect, actor, journalist or full-time professor, be prepared for disappointment. On the other hand, thousands of positions in many rewarding jobs go begging, year after year. They range from supply-chain management (vacancies are in the 27,000 range) to forestry to skilled, non-professional positions in fields such as health care and law.
Add to that list financial planning and financial advice, including in the insurance industry. As has often been reported in these pages, many financial services firms and independent advisors are struggling to recruit younger advisors to join a firm, learn the business and plan on a long-term career.
As a result, the average age of advisors is rising rapidly. According to research obtained from Investment Executive’s Report Card series, 43.5% of advisors are now between the ages of 51 and 64. That figure was 31.9% in 2008. Even more sobering, only 9.6% of advisors are now under the age of 35.
What gives? Are recent graduates unaware that a career as an advisor offers many options, from working as a fee-based financial planner, to guiding portfolio structures to helping clients make key insurance choices? Not to mention compensation that is generally in the six figures and enormous potential for advancement.
There’s little doubt that the industry could invest more time and money in recruiting rookies, perhaps by spending more time in high schools and on college and university campuses. But a key initiative that gets little attention in this regard and that would go a long way toward boosting the profile, credibility and respect accorded this industry would be to move toward a professional standard for financial advisors.
An expert committee commissioned in Ontario to study the issue recently recommended that such a standard should be adopted, partly by setting uniform designations that require post-secondary education. The Financial Advisors Association of Canada (Advocis) and the Financial Planning Standards Council have long advocated for these types of reforms.
Such a change would also help meet the arguments being made by Ontario regulators for the adoption of a fiduciary standard for advisors in Ontario. Given that professionals such as lawyers and certified accountants must meet such a standard as part of their professional qualifications, why not extend it to advisors?
Uniform, tested standards, backed by rigorous academic credentials and a vigilant supervisory body, such as those that govern other professionals, could result in many positive changes— not least of these is renewed interest in this industry by the brightest and best young graduates.