Look before you leap when taking on trainee staff

Brokers thinking of upping their head count must make sure the process is cost-efficient and mutually beneficial


There’s no denying that the financial services industry needs an injection of new blood, particularly when it comes to mortgage broking.

But brokers taking the initiative to build an apprenticeship scheme to share their knowledge of compliance, relationships and consumer advice have a substantial challenge ahead of them if they want to ensure the process is cost-effective and mutually beneficial.

A decade ago many school the financial sector and then accidentally fell into mortgage finance, such was the glut of roles.

But few teens now aspire to the life they have seen on the television news of dealing with angry queues outside banks and probable redundancy.

Smaller brokerages often have the ability to provide one-to-one coaching time for a junior broker or apprentice. But the legal ramifications of taking on fresh starters can be not only a risk to the firm but also difficult and costly to research in the first place.

It’s easy to underestimate the cost of inhouse training. Finding the appropriate graduate is just the first hurdle. A significant cost is likely to be the man-hours that have to be contributed by existing staff. After all, a trainer or otherwise-employed team member has to be put in charge of a trainee’s guidance.

They also need to supervise the new entrant’s progress and add value to their experience during the training process.

Trade apprenticeships typically result in a National Vocational Qualification. But insurers, accountants and lenders should also consider theFinancial Services Skills Council’s apprenticeship schemes.

Few teens now aspire to a life of dealing with angry queues outside banks and probable redundancy

For advisers, the minimum requirement would be a CeMAP qualification or equivalent, along with a measurable set of key skills.

And with regard to skills, a good place to start is the government-recommended Key Skills qualifications. These include communication, numeracy, information, technology, problem solving, working with others and technical knowledge.

Having scoured the internet and spent hours calling employers’ advice lines, I can recommend the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service as the first port of call.

Central to your offering must be on-the-job training, rather than employment. And even when the cost of that is accounted for, thought must be given to fair payment for starters.

Direct.gov.uk may pass you to Payandworkrights.co.uk, which also has an excellent call centre willing to email interested parties with ideas.
The status of trainees is pivotal to both their legal rights and their ongoing obligations to you as an employer.

Starters can be paid, unpaid or partially paid. Legislation covers almost anything involving a contract that is not totally voluntary, including written records of working hours or ongoing non-voluntary commitments.

We are ready for a prescribed route into the mortgage broking sector. The Association of Mortgage Intermediaries is pressing the government for better terms to encourage the valuable sharing of skills in the financial services industry, so the support of brokers is key.