How often do we hear the phrase: ‘I fell into financial advice by accident’? It seems to be how many of us describe the beginning of our careers in the financial advice and financial services sector. I’m guilty of it myself.
But the interesting thing is how many of us stay in the financial advice industry, and make a career out of it, despite this less than decisive first step. I believe this says a lot.
Those of us who have built these fulfilling careers in the sector owe it to those coming up to tell a clearer story about what we get from it and why we wouldn’t change it for any other career out there.
A new generation of school and higher-education leavers could have their eyes opened to opportunities they didn’t know existed, and not miss out on jobs for which their personalities, skills and education would be a perfect fit.
I say I fell into financial services by accident but perhaps that’s not 100% true, as I was fascinated by the financial markets from a young age. I knew that, as soon as I could, I would be leaving school to gain my independence and to get out into the big wide world of employment. What’s more, I could not wait to get myself into London!
I started in banking admin where I was lucky enough to experience many different roles and what stood out for me was how fulfilling it was to make a difference to the lives of our customers. After leaving the bank I decided to travel for a while, an experience I will never forget! Once I arrived back home I knew I wanted to return to financial services and so I picked up my career and went on to work in a number of financial services organisations. I always looked for a mentor within each of the companies I worked for because I felt that this type of support would help me to learn about the business and guide me on the next steps in my career.
I had a burning ambition to set up my own business from a young age and it seemed like financial advice was the sector that could enable me to do this.
A few years on and I was able to fulfil my ambition by setting up a financial planning business. I became a founding director and the only female director of a forward-thinking financial advisory firm. The desire and passion to help people continued throughout this journey and extended beyond clients to developing and nurturing the members of our team.
We were acquired by Progeny and this opened up wider opportunities for the whole team and for me personally as I was invited to take on the role of Operations Director, which has now progressed to my current role of Chief Operations Officer.
Opportunities and support
I am passionate about creating opportunity for others and in doing so helping to turn our industry into a profession, where we see the next generation actively opting to join the profession as their career of choice. It recently dawned on me that I had not really discussed any of this with my 17-year-old daughter!
This prompted a productive discussion with her about just how rewarding financial services can be as a career, whichever path through it you choose. This, for me, is why so many people stay in financial services once they find the sector.
As an example, here at Progeny you could join as a member of the front-of-house team, an administrator or as a paraplanner and from there you will be building experience and knowledge that will enable you to become a financial adviser or a manager of the future, to name but a few of the opportunities. You could choose to go down the route of a project manager or you could decide to move into the regulatory side of the business. The opportunities are there for you to take them, mould them and make them work for you.
My advice would be to always find an employer that will support you and equip you with the development opportunities you are looking for.
When considering financial planning as a career it is worth remembering that the demand for this type of service will never reduce. This is because people will always need and want financial advice. Whilst technology and the role of robo-advice, and even the entry of AI and machine learning into financial advice has absolutely transformed our profession, these will always be complementary to the human touch in my view.
Financial advice is a people-centric business and money will always be a part of our society, so people will most likely want to deal with another human being when it comes to making the big decisions in their lives. Never underestimate what a big responsibility this is. It’s a precious honour to be in a position where you’re valued and called upon to provide guidance for people when they’re often at highly significant points in their lives.
It’s a skill and a sector that will remain in demand and this is a significant positive when thinking about long-term career options.
One of the ways we have sought to spread the word about a career in financial services is via the Progeny summer school which we held for young people over a week at the beginning of August.
The aim was to give a taster of what is on offer in a career in our sector. Given the popularity and success of this year’s event, not to mention the high calibre of the attendees, we’re already excited about running another one next year.
You don’t have to wait until then if you’re keen to explore your options in financial advice, feel free to reach out, as I’m always happy to share my thoughts on a career in a sector that’s given me – and can give you – so much.