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Gloucestershire Business News

First graduates for partnership between UoG and St. James’s Place

A pioneering master's degree programme developed by University of Gloucestershire and St. James's Place has celebrated its first cohort of graduates.

Twelve chartered financial planners from Cirencester-based wealth management business St. James's Place received their certificates at the university's graduation ceremony at Cheltenham Racecourse, to mark their success in graduating from the MSc finance course.

The university and St. James's Place developed the programme to provide financial planners, who already hold chartered and fellow status, with an opportunity to gain a postgraduate qualification that demonstrates a high level of expertise in a specific field of study or professional practice.

Receiving support from the Gloucestershire Business School at the university, the students carried out research on a number of themes as part of the course, including how post-retirement planning can be improved; critical analysis of the pension tax relief allowances; and better outcomes for clients in vulnerable circumstances.

The research will expand knowledge and understanding within the wider financial planning profession, improve client outcomes and help to inform undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at the university.

Clair Vincent, academic course leader, accounting and finance, said: "The financial planning industry has seen a shift over recent years away from the stereotypical door-to-door salesman to a highly respectable profession.

"There has been a massive push from the professional bodies and the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, in raising standards and professionalism in the industry.

"In particular, many advisers have now achieved certified or chartered financial planner status, which is on a par with other chartered professions, such as chartered accountants.

"However, we found that there was a large chartered community of financial planners, who had been chartered for some time but without anywhere to continue to professionally develop, as the chartered and fellow status was typically the highest level professional qualification that could be obtained.

"There was also very little connection between the industry and the academic community, unlike accounting and law. So last year we developed this bespoke MSc finance course in partnership with St. James's Place to address this need.

"We realised that this knowledge and expertise should be captured within our academic community through research, and the 12 students conducted research on key themes of interest in their fields as part of the MSc finance course."

Edward Grant, chartered financial planner and director responsible for professional development at St. James's Place, said: "It is fantastic to see our SJP community recognised among the list of graduates in the University of Gloucestershire's class of 2021.

"As one of the individuals being celebrated, I can speak personally of how beneficial, and indeed rewarding, it is to have completed a master's, as part of a continued commitment to provide better outcomes for our clients.

"The breadth of issues explored within the theses is helping to advance important conversations within our industry, whether it's concerning how to better serve vulnerable clients to improving pension schemes and everything in between.

"The work our community has achieved, facilitated by the university, is making a positive contribution towards the wider profession, as we seek to ultimately improve the quality of financial advice and better serve our clients.

"We look forward to continuing our ongoing relationship with the University of Gloucestershire in the years to come."

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