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All-round winners

Catherine Boyle looks at the final four for the IFA Woman of the Year 2004 award.

Women’s IFA Group founder and chairwoman Fiona Price believes the four candidates on the final short list for the third annual award for the Woman IFA of the Year illustrate the talent and skill that women IFAs are bringing to the industry.

Price says it has been an honour to meet women of such high calibre but that it has also been heart-breaking to have to screen out people to reach the final short list. She says: “All those who have been selected exemplify the Woman IFA of the Year. They are true all-rounders excelling at their chosen careers and, in a number of cases, running their own businesses. They contribute to the IFA and wider community and have made time for a personal life outside work.”

The four finalists are: Carolyn Corless of Bloomsbury Financial Planning, Marlene Shalton of Chambers Morgan James Financial Management,Dawn Slater of Capital Planning (UK) and Saran Allot Davey of Heron House Financial Management.

The winner of the award will be announced at a gala dinner to be held at Canary Wharf, London on Thursday, January 20, 2005.

Saran Allot-Davey

Heron House Financial Management Saran Allott-Davey managing director was runner-up for Woman IFA of the Year 2002. A keen horsewoman, she was initially attracted to a career as an IFA because of its flexibility.

She says: “I was quite serious about eventing and I wanted a career where I could earn a significant amount of money, the work was varied and had flexible hours.”

After a gap of five years Allot-Davey has recently resumed showjumping on her new horse, Felix-Toast-Fingle.

Allot-Davey set up HHFM in 1994 with no experience working as an IFA. The Cardiff business currently consists of three RIs and five admin staff, who deal with a wide range of clients.

HHFM aims to cover the whole range of their customers’ financial needs. Allot-Davey herself deals with many clients from the media industry but the practice also has professional clients and sportspeople.

As well as being runner-up for Woman IFA of the Year 2002, Allot-Davey was investment adviser of the year in 2003. She frequently appears on radio and television programmes to offer financial advice.

Allot-Davey thinks the Woman IFA of the Year competition helps to stretch its participants. She says:”I found going through the process of applying incredibly useful. The early stages of putting your CV together and thinking about what you do makes you take a long hard look at yourself.When you are a general adviser like me it is hard to keep up to date with everything and there can sometimes be gaps in your knowledge which preparing for tests can help to fill.”

Carolyn Corless

Carolyn Corless became a financial adviser quite by accident. She used to work in stage management and got an administrative job at Hargreaves Lansdown in 1987.

She says: “I didn’t wake up one day and think, ‘I want to be an IFA’, but it was something that I gradually found very interesting.”

After Hargreaves Lansdown, Corless worked for Godwins and Chartwell before becoming a chartered financial planner at Bloomsbury in April last year, providing wealth management advice to multi-millionaires.

Corless says: “The type of clients that we serve tend to have complex affairs and are all very different.”

Bloomsbury is a small firm with six registered individuals. Corless prefers working within a small team as she is able to provide a full financial planning service.

Her achievements include awards as investment trust planner of the year in 2000, 2001, and 2004, unit trust planner of the year in 2001 and retirement planner of the year in 2003.

Corless has written articles in the trade press and is a member of the IFP’s education committee.

She feels it is important that female achievement in the IFA industry is celebrated, and says: “Although it is an egalitarian industry with no discrimination, it is still very male-dominated, which is probably because of an outdated public perception. It is good to know that there are other women achieving out there.”

Marlene Shalton

Marlene Shalton set up her IFA practice Chambers Morgan James Financial Management in 1991 after 13 years as a probation officer.

She says: “I just wanted a change and the chance to be my own boss.”

Shalton believes the people skills gleaned from her time as a probation officer have been very useful during her time as an IFA, especially when combined with her previous work in accountancy.

She shares the workload with one other financial planner and her support team. Her daughter Laura has recently joined the practice which is based in Llandaff, Wales.

The firm aims to provide a full financial planning service, with the whole team looking after each client. Shalton says: “I want to help people relate what they want to achieve in life to their finances.”

She contributes regularly to the national press and has a weekly personal finance column in the local press. She also provides advice for the webzine mother@work. Her TV appearances include speaking on Working Lunch and Panorama.

A long-time member of the Institute of Financial Planning, Shalton is now a board director with the IFP and she also hopes to serve on the recently launched Welsh Financial Skills and Services Council.

Shalton was previously shortlisted for the Woman IFA of the Year competition in 2002.

She says: “When I first heard about the award, I initially did not appreciate what it was about. I thought it was just about positive discrimination but it really does highlight the special contribution that women have in financial planning. Going for the award puts you through lots of tests, case studies, technical questions, which are really useful.”

Dawn Slater

After establishing her own business – Dawn Slater Associates – 10 years ago, Dawn Slater sold the firm to Capital Planning (UK) last April and she now works under the umbrella of Capital, which comprises about 120 registered individuals.

Slater began working in financial services in the mid-1980s by working in an estate agency. She says: “In those days, there was no regulation and I just fell into it. It was real on-the-job training.”

Although she initially worked as a mortgage adviser, Slater now prefers working in investments and pensions. She is looking forward to the challenge of preparing clients for the new pension legislation and is working with the local chamber of commerce in the run-up to A-Day.

Slater describes her client base as “Mr and Mrs Average, probably in their 50s and earning 50,000-plus a year. We do not have any multi-millionaires.”

She also deals with the directors of small and medium-sized companies.

Slater thinks the Woman IFA of the Year Award is important in encouraging women within the industry. She says: “There seem to be lots of women who are planners but do not want to be advisers. I feel that women’s empathy makes them very good advisers. Awards like the Woman IFA of the Year help to bring women to the forefront and publicise just how good they are.”

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