Behind apprenticeship learning: Financial Services Coach, Nicole Jones

12th August 2022

Tell us about yourself, your role, and the challenges it brings.

I am a financial services coach at Davies, supporting level 3 and 4 apprentices through their qualification which can take anywhere between 15 months to 2 1/2 years. I support apprentices on a variety of things, from understanding the insurance market basics to their longer-term career aspirations.

The main challenges of my role are helping learners to:

  • Identify their own potential. Many apprentices see the apprenticeship as just a qualification rather than a pathway to longer-term growth.
  • Understand that the way in which we’ve always worked has changed and finding that work life balance is key.


What are the main benefits of apprenticeship learning?

It’s more relaxed than it used to be. Apprenticeships are based around the practical element; learners are going to be doing whatever the job is that the apprenticeship supports – working in the industry, getting both practical and theoretical experience. From my experience, I would say that 20% of people’s learning takes place in a training session. The other 80% is from the work you put into practice. And of course another benefit is having access to a dedicated coach that will support you through it all.


What are your three study tips to help apprentices?

Tip 1. Compartmentalise study time
I always suggest that learners do no more than two hours of revision at a time and always aim to do this at the start of your working day when you are mentally fresh. Set up a reoccurring reminder for both yourself and your line manager and make your study periods a routine for you both.

Tip 2. Use appropriate resources
We have resources on our DLS Thrive platform. I always recommend my apprentices take advantage of these alongside specific CII resources which are available on the CII platform called ‘Revision Mate’. This gets the learners used to seeing how questions are set out in the exams.

Tip 3. Set yourself a definitive study date
Having a date in the diary makes it a bit more real, which makes your commitment to studying that much better. Once your exam date is set you can work backwards to outline your priorities and ensure you cover all necessary content.


What is the biggest challenge for apprenticeships over the next 12 months?

Personally, I think it’s going to be around attracting a more diverse talent pool. Insurance is a particularly white male dominated aging demographic and attracting young talent into it is difficult, but also attracting diverse talent is something that needs improving.

I think there is a lot more to be done around the accessibility of getting into the industry. I think there’s a significant shift that’s happening around the higher/elite education side of it, and the requirements needed. However, the government are talking about doing shorter sections like a skills boot camp and upskilling people that lost their jobs during COVID and then incentivising people who are retraining. That’s probably one of the biggest challenges – attracting the right type of talent and retaining it. It’s going to be hard, but I think we’ll get there.


What is your proudest moment as a coach?

I had an apprentice that worked at a big insurance company in central London, she’d been at that company for a couple of years and hadn’t moved forward the way she wanted to.

When we first started working together, she was nervous, shy, and very introverted. One of the things that I like to do with my learners is psychometric testing (personality tests) as I’m a huge believer that self-awareness is key. The main thing we discovered from this test is that she wasn’t confident in speaking up as she didn’t feel like she would be technically minded enough until she achieved her technical qualification. After doing so well on a presentation assignment that her manager gave her she got a promotion, followed by earning a Distinction in her apprenticeship.


Can you tell us about a learning mentor that has inspired you?

Alison Neate, my mentor when I did a Women in Insurance program, changed the way I thought about things, and the way I saw my future career going.

My line manager, Haley Beattie, has also inspired me, she is without a doubt the best leader I’ve worked for. With Davies being a finalist for the National Apprenticeship Diversity Award and knowing the work I’ve been doing in the diversity, equity & inclusion space, she thought it’d a great opportunity to elevate me and put me forward to attend the finalist reception at the Houses of Parliament.


Our Professional Education team delivers a range of apprenticeship programmes across insurance & financial services. Get in touch to find out how we help businesses make the most from the apprenticeship levy.

Nicole Jones
Financial Services Apprenticeship Coach

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