Training deficit harms industry: Education pioneer

In-house training programs don't adequately prepare the next generation, say seasoned advisors

Training deficit harms industry: Education pioneer

Creating the 21st-century financial advisor takes more than what in-house training programs can offer, say some seasoned advisors.

Calling these programs biased and too narrowly focused, Sam Albanese, who spearheaded Seneca College’s Financial Services Practitioner Programme, feels that given the current state of the industry, it is more important than ever for the next generation of financial advisors to have a more global, macro perspective.

“I think this is crucially important because the consumer is a more complex individual than ever before,” explains Albanese, who has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. “I think we are doing a disservice to the client if the only thing we are presenting is an advised option, when we are able to be more objective.”

This, Albanese feels, is inevitably what occurs when to-be advisors are trained by programs offered by companies such as Manulife Financial, Edward Jones and the Investor’s Group. Though the training is adequate, he says, molding the advisor to serve a company’s objectives is wherein the conflict lies. 

“(In-house training programs) are more focused, for obvious reasons, towards the company … to some degree it’s prejudiced, whether you like it or not,” he says. “When you go into an in-house program … you take whatever the company is giving you. You don’t know what you can’t argue.” (continued on Page 2)


Jason Abbott, a Toronto-based advisor and founder of Inc., agrees, noting that lines are blurred when training coincides with selling products, influencing how an advisor will conduct business and approach clients down the line.

“I really think that the distribution of a product and a lot of training need to be separate,” says Abbott. “When distributing a product, you are stepping into sales culture and that shapes a young advisor’s perception on business practice.”

Abbott would like to see training standardized, so the next generation of financial advisors have the same credentials, without feeling obliged to a particular firm.

“I’d like to see a joint effort … to create the infrastructure to develop (advisors) without having to commit to any one point of view,” he says. “I think there is a better way to unleash qualified advisors into the world.” (continued on Page 3)


Albanese admits that ensuring his graduates keep a global perspective after landing a job is the ongoing challenge, as companies hone new hires. Despite this inevitability, he believes a college education withstands the on-the-job training.

“I think because they already come armed with much more information, that makes them a better advisor,” he says. “When you come through the college system and go to an insurance or investment company, you know what you know. You are an educated advisor and you can ask those questions.”

Another Toronto-based financial advisor, who wished to remain anonymous, offers a different perspective, adding that although in-house training programs are reputable, the graduates don't stand a chance competing against seasoned advisors.

"They (in-house programs) generally attract people who haven’t been in the industry before, going after a newby inexperienced," he says. "In terms of how it would affect us, we are pretty seasoned. A new person getting into the industry, we would not see as a competitor. They don’t have the track record or the experience managing money."