I recently spoke to a group of youngsters beginning to think ahead to a potential career in financial and professional services. I was part of a panel group which represented financial planning, investment management, banking, accountancy, law and tax advice.
We were asked to come up with ten top tips for the students. It is vital we bring more young people into the profession and get across just how fulfilling it can be to help clients achieve their financial and life goals. So here are mine.
- Consider starting out with a financial planning degree. It will help with the sheer amount of studying that comes with becoming a modern day planner. The degree will also exempt you from some of the necessary exams required to become a fully qualified adviser.
- Alternatively, you could consider not getting a degree. Find a company which offers an apprenticeship scheme or similar. There are now many out there with training schemes accredited by the Financial Services Skills Council. It will get you into the work environment more quickly and you will likely encounter real clients much sooner by observing interviews. What is more, you will be earning, not accruing student debt.
- Get underway with your professional study soon as you can. The goal should be chartered or certified status (many achieve both) and there is a lot to get through before that.
- Read, read, read. It is important to be curious.
- Never stop learning. Advanced and specialist qualifications are becoming ever more important for the job. If nothing else, they help you differentiate yourself.
- Join a professional body. This is now largely compulsory, as you will need their help for CPD requirements and you statement of professional standing. They are a great source of learning and interaction with fellow professionals.
- Join a networking group of new and young planners. This is a great way to meet friends and share ideas. If you cannot find one, start one. And do not forget LinkedIn.
- Be prepared to put the work in to find clients. Unless you are very lucky and find work in a firm where client relationships are handed to you, it will be necessary to get out there and meet people who might be interested in your assistance. Never underestimate how much time and effort this may take. For the introverted among you, this should not frighten you. Work a little harder on your soft skills.
- Find a mentor; someone who has some miles under their belt. They will be invaluable in helping you settle in to the profession, and be a sounding board for ideas and a shoulder to lean on during tough times.
- Finally, once you get a job, stick with it for a while. Settle in and learn your craft but, above all, enjoy an incredibly rewarding professional life.
Lee Robertson is chief executive of Investment Quorum