Number of years in financial planning
What qualifications do you have?
Chartered Financial Planner (CII/PFS)
BA Hons Business Finance (2.1) Durham University
Enrolled for Certified Financial Planner (CISI) and hoping to complete in 2018.
How did you end up in financial planning?
Like most people I guess I would say I fell into Financial Planning and when I left university I wasn’t really too sure what I wanted to do.
I had spent a few weeks over a university holiday interning at Citi Quilter (now Quilter Cheviot) in Liverpool. Once I graduated I forwarded my CV to the Portfolio Manager I was working for and asked if he could give me some feedback.
As well as a few helpful pointers, he also forwarded my CV to a few Financial Planning firms and said he felt I’d be quite suited to a client facing role.
I met with two firms and was lucky enough to be offered positions at both. I joined Alchemy Advisory Services, a Chartered Financial Planning practice in North Wales, and as they say, the rest is history.
Why did you stay?
Good question, and the honest answer is I didn’t.
Although maybe I didn’t realise it at the time, I was very lucky that my first experience in Financial Planning was with Alchemy. This was 2008 and they were a Chartered and Accredited firm, fully embracing cashflow planning and fee-based advisers. It was ‘proper’ financial planning and not focused upon selling a product. I guess I (somewhat naively) assumed that all IFAs/ Financial Planning firms worked in this way.
I spent 3.5 years at Alchemy starting as a trainee and completing my Level 4 diploma whilst working my way up to becoming a Financial Planner. It was great and gave me a really broad experience of all aspects of Financial Planning from administration to paraplanning and finally working directly with clients. We were a small team with just 5 of us in the office but I think this can be a great advantage as you get so much hands-on experience in all aspects of a Financial Planning business.
I then (for reasons I won’t bore you with) moved to Singapore to work for an Offshore Wealth Management firm working with expats. It’s safe to say my experience of Financial Planning in Singapore was very different to that in the UK. I learnt a number of valuable lessons and new skills but after 18 months I chose to move on.
My experience in Singapore made me feel very differently about Financial Services and I wasn’t getting the same enjoyment out of the role that I had previously had. Not wanting to come back to the UK just yet, I spent year or so working in recruitment in Singapore.
During this time, I began to think a lot more about what I wanted to do with my career. When I started to reflect on my experience to date, I realised how much I had enjoyed ‘proper’ Financial Planning. I loved the client interaction and the genuine sense of helping people. I also really enjoyed the technical side and at that stage was only a few exams away from Chartered.
I was conscious that the longer I stayed away from the UK, the more difficult it would be for me to return to the Financial Planning profession. So, after nearly 3 years in Singapore I moved to London.
This is where I had my second stroke of luck as I managed to get a role as a Paraplanner at the Red House. I’ve been here nearly 3 years, working up to a Financial Planner and my passion for Financial Planning is greater than ever! I’ve been very fortunate to work with and learn from Ruth, who I would definitely say is one of the leaders within the Financial Panning profession, who has provided crucial guidance and mentoring for me at really important part I my career.
What does your typical week look like?
We start every Monday morning with a team meeting. This is a chance for everyone to get up to speed on what people are working on, and what we have coming up in the next few weeks, and then allows us to prioritise accordingly. We then also reflect on the previous week with each team member highlighting one positive outcome and sharing something they learnt the week before.
Typically, I will have 2-3 client meetings a week, which may be a mixture of annual review meetings, initial meetings and ‘strategy’ meetings, plus a couple of client calls. This could be a new enquiry, finding out a little more about what is important to them and explaining how we can add value going forward, or a catch-up call with an existing client (which is generally focused on non-financial planning stuff! Family, holidays etc.!)
The type of work is very varied depending upon what meetings I have. As we are a small team it ranges from the very technical, which could be digging into the detail of a pension transfer or tapered annual allowance calculation, to the more everyday tasks (including the morning tea round).
I spend some time most days working closely with our trainee, mentoring him through our financial planning process and helping him build his knowledge. I find this aspect very rewarding as it is something I valued a lot when in junior roles.
Finally, we have a weekly office yoga class which is great fun (although maybe a little awkward at first!).
What types of clients do you work with?
We are very lucky in that the clients we typically work with have £1m – £5m of investable liquid assets or have significant earnings (£350,000+pa) to be on their way to achieving that.
That being said, we are also conscious of the need to bring through younger clients and offer a ‘light’ service to people at the beginning of their financial journey. This may be individuals with earnings of c£100,000 – £150,000 who require advice on the type of planning and good habits they should put in place to help secure their future lifestyle.
We also have an over arching criteria that we have to like and respect the client we work with, after all, we aim to be with them for the long haul!
Are you employed, or self-employed?
What makes financial planning a career worth considering?
I really do think financial planning is a great career for people of all backgrounds.
There are so many different roles that allow people to really focus on what they enjoy, whether this be the really technical aspects or more on building and developing client relationships. There is a real need for people with varying skill sets.
I think as a profession, Financial Planning is going from strength to strength and is certainly becoming much more respected as a profession and as a career. There has been a real push within the profession to focus more on Financial Planning and to bring young talent through, and I think this can only be a good thing. NextGen Planners are playing a huge role in this which is great to see.
Most importantly though, I think Financial Planning is a really rewarding career. Working with people to help them achieve their goals gives me an awful lot of satisfaction.
It’s certainly a career I would recommend!
Why did you join NextGen Planners?
I joined NextGen planners as I really think they are making a positive change in terms of encouraging younger people into the Financial Planning profession, and that is something I really wanted to be a part of.
I have found it to be a great platform to meet planners of all levels of experience and have the opportunity to chat through questions with your peers. It has become a great environment for sharing experience and best practice with everyone happy to help.