St. James’s Place Academy supports creation of eight new Scotland-based SMEs during lockdown

St. James’s Place Academy supports creation of eight new Scotland-based SMEs during lockdown

The St. James’s Place Academy has supported eight financial advisers to launch their own businesses in Scotland since the government’s lockdown measures were announced in March.

With three located in Edinburgh, three in Glasgow and two in Aberdeen, the new SME owners collectively represent almost a quarter of the 39 recent SJP Academy graduates across the UK who have been supported in setting up their own practices during the pandemic.

The new Scottish SME owners range in age from 29 to 49 years old and have all pursued a career change from roles including a restaurant manager, video producer, and an analyst.

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 73 SMEs across Scotland, which have gone on to employ a number of advisers, administrators, paraplanners and marketeers.

Claire Lang, Aberdeen, Edinburgh Academy graduate, said: “Starting a business at any time is going to be challenging, and I didn’t expect my situation to be any different to any other start-up. When lockdown started, I had to redo my business plan and my business launch, but I found it really easy to adapt. My potential clients were more than happy to attend a virtual launch event and people have been really delighted to have our meetings over video call. It’s actually given me a greater geographical reach, and it’s a lot easier for people to find time to log in to a meeting from home.

“The current situation has given people the time to review their current financial situation. This may be a result of furlough making people realise that they have no financial back-up plan if they’re not able to work, or the fact they’ve just had more time at home to review those old pensions that they’ve been putting off looking at for a long time. I think being at home has made people realise the importance of home and family, and given them a new-found focus to protect what’s most important to them.”

Jason Flood, Academy director at St. James’s Place, added: “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 available, 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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