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St James’s Place Academy supports creation of 39 new SMEs during lockdown


The St James’s Place Academy has supported 39 financial advisers launch their own businesses since the government’s lockdown measures were announced on 23 March.


The new businesses are located across the whole of the UK – from Aberdeen to Kent – and are run by recent Academy graduates, who have received support from the SJP Academy throughout the pandemic. The new SME owners range in age from 24 to 59 years-old, with some just starting out in their career and others who are second-careerists. Over a third (38 per cent) are female, including three who have returned to the workplace after taking a career break to raise a family, while others have come from careers in sport, teaching, hospitality and the military.
Through its two-year training programme, the SJP Academy helps the UK’s next generation of highly qualified financial advice professionals to build a career in financial planning and wealth management. The Academists then either launch their own business or choose to be an adviser within an existing Partner Practice.
The St James’s Place Academy has continued to support those who were already enrolled into the programme and will re-open to new intakes later this year.
Since its creation in 2012, the Academy has helped create 557 SMEs across the UK, which collectively now employ hundreds of advisers, administrators, paraplanners and marketeers.
Former footballer, Robbie Simpson, 35, who was appointed by the Academy in March this year, comments: “Coming out of the Academy into lockdown, people were telling me what a bad time it was to start a new business, but it really couldn’t have been better for me. I’ve had to adapt to new ways of working, in terms of using technology, and as with any new start-up there are always teething problems. But with the training and support from SJP and Academy, coupled with potential clients seeming to have more time on their hands to think about their finances, I really feel there couldn’t have been a better time to launch my new business.”

Naomi Haynes, former business manager, 45, who was appointed by the Academy in March this year, also comments: “Although I’ve needed to adjust my approach to building my business, it has been brilliant to be able to get out there and not let lockdown negatively impact me and the people I can help. The pandemic has caused a lot of worry about people’s financial wellbeing, and lockdown has actually given me the opportunity to connect with people via video calls, as well as via telephone, to provide advice on their financial journey during a difficult time.

“I have also been able to use social media to regularly post about personal and business finance which has had a really positive response, as well as organising and speaking at webinars on relevant financial topics. All of this has shown me that you don’t need to be able to leave your front door to have a positive impact, grow your business, and make a difference.”

Jason Flood, Academy Director at St James’s Place, says: “We’re proud to have helped so many advisers break into the industry since 2012, but particularly in the current business landscape it’s an immense achievement to have supported new businesses and helped with job creation. These graduates have been forced to adapt their initial plans, such as shifting face to face meetings to virtual ones, and it’s really impressive how they have overcome these challenges.

“We set up the Academy with the goal of encouraging more people into the financial advice profession, so we look forward to seeing these newly appointed owners become the financial planning employers of the future as their businesses grow.”

With three different career programmes available1, the Academy gives individuals the opportunity to undergo thorough training to enable them to develop their careers as Financial Planners or Paraplanners within the SJP Partnership. Graduates then benefit from ongoing support, development and training opportunities, so they can work towards their business goals year-on-year.

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