Wiltshire’s financial adviser academy opens its doors for 2017 intake

By Anita Jaynes on 5 April, 2017

A financial planning business based at Corsham’s Hartham Park, is set to grow its workforce by 50 per cent when it employs five new people.

Chartered Financial Planners Unividual Limited is taking on its third intake of new recruits for its financial adviser academy, Unicademy.

So far around 250 graduates, local students and finance professionals have applied for a spot, which represents around 50 individuals for each of the five places that are available. This will increase the size of the team to 15 members of staff.

Established in 2000 by financial planner and managing director John Baxter, Unividual’s head office is at Hartham Park in Corsham. Unividual now has satellite offices in London, Worcester and Bath with clients from not just all corners of the UK but around the world. John’s son and daughter, Lewis and Cherie-Anne, run the business alongside him and are part-way through a journey of recruiting the next generation of financial advisers and financial planning assistants. Unicademy is a work-based training programme that transforms aspiring finance professionals in to Chartered Financial Planners.

Lewis Baxter, aged 29, joined Unividual in 2009 as Unividual’s first trainee, passing Diploma and Advanced Diploma exams in Financial Planning with the Chartered Insurance Institute and becoming one of the youngest Fellows of the Personal Finance Society at the time.  The business developed the training programme with other trainees and Unicademy was officially launched in 2015. There are currently five people at varying levels on Unicademy’s three stage training process.

Chartered Marketer and marketing director, Cherie-Anne Baxter, explained why Unicademy was setup. “Over the last decade financial advice firms have placed little focus on succession planning and who will service clients when an adviser retires. The average age of a financial adviser is about 50 years old. Not only is this rising every year, but fewer than 20 per cent of financial advisers are under the age of 40. Unicademy was born as a strategy to create the next generation of financial services leaders. These carefully hand-picked individuals, trained to the highest of levels, are Unividual’s succession plan. Working alongside some of the best Chartered Financial Planners in the industry they will inherit the skills and knowledge to service Unividual’s clients for generations to come, giving families and businesses consistency and a reassurance of longevity.”

Scott Gurd, aged 27, graduated as a Chartered Financial Planner from Unicademy in January 2016. He said: “When I first joined Unividual I had a degree in business management and very little exposure to the financial services industry. The training programme is intense with on the job training and out of hours study to pass the exams required to become a Chartered Financial Planner. Not only does Unividual pay for all the exams and study materials but a CII accredited trainer delivers bespoke sessions for every module. On becoming Chartered, Lewis and John implemented a training process for me to move in to a client-facing financial adviser role. I am now in my second year of advising with Unividual and haven’t looked back. The Unicademy programme, with a lot of hard work and application, has helped me get to where I am now.”

Unividual gained Chartered Financial Planner status with the Chartered Insurance Institute in 2015.  Lewis Baxter, Chartered Financial Planner and director of Unividual said: “Our focus has always been and will continue to be about providing the best levels of service and innovative advice we possibly can. But this shouldn’t just come from the financial adviser, high-quality advice and service has to come from every facet of the business. This means that we need people in every area of the business functioning at high quality levels. This is one of the things that has made Unicademy so unique to anything else in the industry. Upon successful completion of Unicademy individuals can choose between a career path of a financial adviser or a technical specialist within the office. Career opportunities exist across the company and trainees can tailor the final stages of their training to the area they want to specialise in. It is rare for a business of our size to focus on getting all members of the planning team to Chartered status not just advisers. Unividual’s financial advisers need to be at excellent standards, but it is also essential for the support staff behind these advisers to operate at the same level.  This is why we value all roles in the financial advice process, there will always be opportunities for highly qualified and motivated individuals to excel in our company, regardless of what position that might be.”

“Unicademy isn’t easy, we focus on transforming people both technically and personally so that they can become the best version of themselves. Just like our clients, our employees have clearly defined life goals and objectives. They know that hard work breeds success and in turn increases earning potential. For those out there that didn’t think an innovative, flexible business, where you are completely responsible for your own achievement existed, it does at Unividual. If you aspire to be at the pinnacle of your career it never is going to be easy.  This programme isn’t for the faint-hearted it requires grit, determination and intelligence. But, if you follow and apply all you learn there is an opportunity to become part of the next generation of industry leaders and entrepreneurs.”

The 2017 Unicademy programme will begin at the end of August. Unividual invite any aspiring finance professionals who would like to apply to send a CV and covering letter to marketing@unividual.co.uk. More details on the jobs available at Unividual can be found at www.indeedjobs.com/unividual-limited or you can head to www.unividual.co.uk to find out more about the business.

Pictured above: The Unividual team on a training and team building day at Lucknam Park