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Air Academy case study: Viva Retirement Solutions

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Air Academy case study: Viva Retirement Solutions

From day one the vision of Viva has always been to “treat clients as if they were our own parents” and to make a difference in this fantastic sector that we work in.

Viva Retirement Solutions have grown from 2 advisers almost 10 years ago, to a medium sized broker firm with 16 advisers currently. We look after all Later Life mortgage needs, including Lifetime and Rio mortgages, and are whole of market with advisers dotted around the country to give face to face coverage.

Viva have grown to become well known within the industry for always doing right by our clients, and always looking to raise the benchmark and standards for all within the sector that we work in. To this end we have been lucky enough to win many awards across the wider market.

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Making the most of Air Academy

All 16 members of our team have completed the Air Training Modules, and this became even more appealing to our advisers as it was LIBF accredited. This accreditation, we feel, really adds kudos and gravitas to the modules and the importance of completing them.

As a company we felt that it was very important to be able to take the right amount of time to complete these modules, especially as when they were first accessible, the advisers were very, very busy. Having said this, it was also important to weigh up the fact that the completion of these modules would really help our advisers in the day-to-day activities and make sure that they were up to speed with areas of the Later Life market that they may not deal in every day.

We therefore set a target for the whole team to complete all modules in mid-September 2022. When advisers are busy it is easy to forget about keeping up to speed with on-going training, especially in areas that you may not come across on a daily basis, but this is exactly the reason why it is so important to be knowledgeable when speaking with clients, as every situation is different. So to help things along, we created a league table which was updated weekly to stir up competition.

As a long standing member of Air (starting when we first joined the industry almost 10 years ago), we wanted not only for everyone to complete the modules, but to be the first medium sized company to do so within Air. We were delighted to achieve this individually, as well as a collective.

“The modules were thought provoking and reminded me of some important things that I had forgotten, a worthwhile exercise to read them and take the tests.” Rob Polworth

Viva’s experience with Air Academy

Overall we found the learning to be excellent and we found a marked difference in some of the adviser attitudes after they had completed the modules. At the beginning some felt that this was going to be just another “tick box” exercise and could not see the point of completing the modules as a priority. But by the end these same advisers were telling me that they had enjoyed the modules, learned a lot from them and had refreshed their own knowledge to be confident in what they say to clients in all areas of Later Life finance.

All advisers work differently and some “binged” in the content like you would on something like a good Netflix series, some set themselves a weekly target of modules to complete, whilst

others used any free-time that they had to work through what was there. The league table and gentle weekly prompts certainly made sure that the Air Modules were at the forefront of adviser minds!

The one thing that advisers could not do, and some found to their cost, was skim read modules and complete questions from their previous knowledge to cut corners. This is the very thing that worried me about when accreditation and CPD in general are set – that they are a “tick box” exercise. Well, we can certainly say that the Air Modules are not so! Some modules took less time to complete than others, but due to the structure, all were given full attention.

You need to carefully read the learning material, which in turn means that you are really taking in the contents, before being able to successfully answer the questions that are set. The modules are cleverly set up so that you cannot cheat your way around the information and this gives us as company Directors secure knowledge that our guys are up to speed with all things Later Life.

Some of the modules were easier than others as we practice in their content frequently, but some were much harder as they come up less frequently. For me the Later Life Lending in the Broader Context Module was the one that stood out. This was because it sets out the broader context of the market that we operate in. So it is great to specialise in one area, say Equity Release, but showing that it is essential to have a working knowledge of what else could and should be important to clients – things such as Power of Attorney, Long Term Care, Pensions Freedoms and Inheritance Tax Planning.

For us, this is essential.

What I most enjoyed is that there was something there for everyone within our team, from someone who has just joined the industry to someone who has been in it for many, many years.

It is really satisfying to complete the accreditation and to be able to gain the LIBF accredited badge, which really signifies the work put into the front end.

We have grown over the years, just as Air have and it is fantastic to know that we have not outgrown each-other! In the early years Air gave us a stepping stone into the industry with access to enhanced proc fees, networking events and a sourcing system that truly worked. Just as importantly though, it gave smaller companies such as Viva a voice, no longer having to stand under the shadow of the giants such as Key and Age.

Air now gives us all of these things along with personalised support and accessible tools and resources, all of which make it easier to give best advice to our clients. Nothing is too much trouble and any suggestions for improvement are usually acted on very quickly!

“Even though I feel I have an excellent understanding of the Equity Release market I found some useful information in the modules about areas I don’t operate every day.” Gerard Hucker

What have you gained by using Air Academy

As we have evolved, Air has done so too and continues to offer everything that we could need as a company. Proc fees continue to excel, which is great from a commercial aspect, but most importantly we have confidence in the support and tools on offer. As a company we need to be sure that our guys can get what they need when they need it and Air certainly give us this.

We may have grown, but of course the industry has become more and more popular with wealth advisers and mortgage brokers, these people are the “next generation” of advisers, some of whom will be stalwarts within our sector in the next 5-10 years and it is pleasing to see that Air are making it as easy as possible to step into the market and stay there. What I mean by this, is by giving access to a Fact Find and Suitability Report, it is offering new-comers the tools that they need whilst making sure that all of the key areas to consider such as vulnerability, are at the forefront of people’s minds.

For us as a company, we feel that it is great to have new people entering the industry, but just so long as they do not jeopardise all of the hard work that has been going on to dispel negativity in the wider market. What Air offers, greatly reduces this risk if new-comers use Air to its full potential alongside becoming members of the Equity Release Council and utilising resources such as The Competency Framework, then we feel that they will have a long and successful venture into all things Later Life.


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