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Basics instinct

I was never one of those children who had a very definite idea of a career path. Other than a fleeting moment of wanting to be a ballerina and a member of Abba, my career choices as a child were not obvious.

In the year before taking my GCSEs, I chose to do work experience at Barclays Bank. For three weeks, I had a whistlestop tour of the day-to-day activities of high-street banking, cashiering, stuffing envelopes, filing, observing the securities team and sitting with the glamorous personal bankers.

I left school at 16 and was taken on by Barclays, starting at the branch where I had done my work experience. I also decided to register for night school for two evenings a week over two years taking a BTEC in business and finance.

My career in banking lasted 10 years, having started in the very important position of post clerk. I knew very quickly that I wanted to progress, so I put myself in a position for promotion and covered most roles from first cashier, student business officer, personal banker, mortgage specialist to managing a branch with the most successful output in our area by the time I was 23.

Barclays Life had noticed my success and encouraged me to think about becoming an adviser so I went away and qualified and within months had resigned my position in the bank and joined Barclays Life. At the time I was one of three females in a salesforce of more than 500. In my first full year there, I became one of their top five invest-ment advisers.

However, it did not take long for me to realise that this culture would not suit me as it was fundamentally driven by num-bers, with a massive knowledge gap among most. Targets became “buckets” and clients became numbers. There was no longer room for service.

So I became a self-employed IFA. It was around this time that I met Jeff Prestridge, the personal finance editor of the Mail on Sunday, at an investment seminar. This was a meeting that was to set me off on the next path of my career.

This meeting led me down a very different path to which I had anticipated, one that involved and escalated my interest in research, the media and the actual future of the financial services industry. I spent time as head of communications at The Money Portal, Bates Investments Services and HSBC Asset Management.

I have now launched my own fledgling IFA, on the South coast called Nexus IFA, using all the ingredients of my past experiences.

We engage all our clients in committing to our service charter, where our business is all based on renewal to warrant that service and our initial fees are capped so again we can offer a common platform across all providers. We have embraced the need to communicate and help both clients and advisers develop a long-term relationship in meeting financial goals and aspirations.

What disappoints me is that as an industry we are driven too much by trends, forgetting the basics of financial planning. As a service industry, we have lost the understanding of delivering a good customer service to both our clients and the adviser, whom have to contend with the Achilles heel of providers’ admin offerings. It is now a battle to obtain information or receive accurate data. They hide behind the facade of TCF.

I continue to be both passionate and positive about the industry and by taking control in my own way of providing the service I think we should apply through Nexus allows me to see that there are ways we can tackle negativity and mistrust.

Kerry Nelson is managing director of Nexus IFA

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