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Old Mutual Wealth appoints new head of Financial Adviser School

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Old Mutual Wealth has appointed Darren Smith as the head of the Financial Adviser School (FAS).

Reporting into Old Mutual Wealth chief distribution officer, Richard Freeman, Darren will help deliver Old Mutual Wealth’s ambition to support the next generation of financial advisers.

The Financial Adviser School was acquired by Old Mutual Wealth in February 2016 and operates on a not-for-profit basis.

The School can support over 100 students a year, with small cohorts joining each month, in addition to a small cohort that began in April this year.

Smith’s new role as Head of the Financial Adviser School follows a 23-year career in financial services. During that time, he has worked as a self-employed Financial Consultant and held Sales, Compliance and Business Development roles for a number of different networks.

Dar Smith ren joined Old Mutual Wealth-owned network Intrinsic in 2013, initially developing the restricted investment proposition before working on a number of projects including the acquisition and transition of Sesame’s Wealth advisers in 2015.

The School supports students to obtain level 4 financial planning qualifications, and also has a strong focus on helping students develop the soft-skills required to build long-term relationships with clients and the business skills to underpin a successful career in the industry. The programme runs over a 9-10 month period.

Fees for the course are typically GBP8,500 and students will study toward the Institute of Financial Services Diploma in Financial Advice (DiPFA), which supports a strong focus on the practical skills required for a career in financial planning. Zero interest loans are available to help spread the cost.

The School will actively seek trainees from outside the industry, including graduates and those seeking a career-change, in order to support firms with the recruitment of new advisers. It will also support firms to upskill existing staff, including mortgage advisers. The School hopes to attract those looking for a second career in financial services by exploring opportunities to form strategic relationships with groups such as military charities and sports bodies.

The School also recognises that the UK government is currently proposing to reform apprenticeships  and Old Mutual Wealth will seek opportunities to act as a training partner to firms offering apprenticeship schemes for financial planners.

Speaking about the new role, Smith says: “I am passionate about financial services and really enjoy developing new propositions that can improve services for advisers and advice firms.

“I believe that this is a great career for good quality people, and that this is a great time to become a financial adviser when customer demand has never been higher.

“Trust between advisers and their clients is crucial. The Financial Adviser School therefore has a duty to ensure that future financial advisers are not just fully qualified, but truly focussed on delivering good customer outcomes throughout the advice and ongoing service process.

“I’m committed to developing a proposition that will bring new advisers into the industry, able to deliver quality financial advice that existing and new customers can really trust.”

Old Mutual Wealth’s chief distribution officer Richard Freeman adds: “The Financial Adviser School is a big investment from Old Mutual Wealth and a real demonstration of our commitment to supporting high quality, professional face-to-face advice.

“We are delighted that Darren has accepted the role as head of the Financial Adviser School, having managed the acquisition and transition of the School over the last nine months. His experience and enthusiasm will ensure the School achieves its aim of developing the next generation of financial advisers.”

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