Financial advice network Openwork has welcomed 54 trainees to its Openwork Academy, almost equaling the total intake for last year.
It will have a further two intakes this year as it focuses on increasing access to financial advice across the UK in response to growing demand.
Claire Limon, director of learning and acquisition, Openwork, said: “The record intake to the Openwork Academy underlines our commitment to increase access to advice so more people across the UK can receive the expert help they need to create and protect wealth for themselves and their families.
“The financial advice market is set for an exciting period of growth as demand increases and we are delighted to welcome the latest intake to the Academy and to maintain momentum throughout the coming years with more trainees at our new training centres.
“Expanding the number of advisers in the UK is vital and it is also important to attract as diverse a training pool as possible. The Academy welcomes people from all walks of life to pursue a career in financial advice and the latest intake shows that.”
The number of training centres has been increased to three, with courses available in Swindon, London and Newcastle demonstrating the commitment to rapidly expand the Academy, which helps people with no significant financial services experience to enter financial advice as a second career.
The record intake to the Academy includes 14 advisers studying for mortgage qualifications under MCOB and 40 training for pensions and investment qualifications under COB.
Openwork’s drive to increase the diversity of new recruits is highlighted by the lower average ages and the numbers of female trainees signed up – 37% of the new trainees are women and the average age of MCOB trainees is 36 while the average age of COB recruits is 33.
Last year saw a total of 57 recruits to the Openwork Academy with women making up just under a third (32%). Recruits were split between 38 COB trainees and 19 MCOB trainees.
The majority of graduates from the Academy are career changers with experience across a broad range of sectors, including education, the armed forces, manufacturing and hospitality. Openwork expects that around 150 trainees will join the Academy this year.
Since its foundation in 2014, the Openwork Academy programme has trained and qualified over 150 advisers.