What was your first job?
My first job was as a sales support executive for the now defunct Mortgage Express. Back in the day, Mortgage Express was a great place to work, with a real entrepren-eurial feel to it. This role gave me my first taste of the online world – I registered the company URLs and briefed the design of their first website on the only PC with internet connection in the office at the time.
What attracted you to financial services?
I was attracted to mar-keting as I wanted a career where I could mix numbers and structure with creat-ivity and the role at Mortgage Express was the first job I came across after graduating that allowed me to get started in this field. I could have quite happily worked in a number of other industries but in hindsight I am pleased that I ended up in financial services.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The IFAP team winning the Financial Services Forum Digital Activity Award and in the same year winning the Financial Services Forum Judges’ Award for Marketing Excel-lence. These awards look at marketing effectiveness so it was great to be recognised for the real value we produce for our sponsors and professional advisers on a very tight budget.
How would you describe your current role at IFA Promotion?
Very exciting. The industry is changing at a pace and part of my role is keeping up with these changes and helping IFAs and sponsor companies do the same.
At the same time, consumers still need to be guided to advice that is right for them and to be made aware of how changes in the industry affect them and their financial planning.
What is the biggest challenge in your current role?
There is a number of challenges ahead – it is hard to pick just one. I think both getting consumers to truly understand the value of independent financial advice and helping IFAs to realise the potential of the internet are impor- tant issues at the moment.
As a small comp- any, it is always a challenge to get ourselves heard – continuing with our strategy of online promotion is a great way of cutting through the noise other finan-cial services brands make and putting the independent advice proposition in front of consumers.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I would love to still be running IFAP and promoting professional advice to consumers. There is a lot still to do in making unbiased. co.uk the number one portal for professional advice in the UK and with the online world moving at the rate it is there are always new technologies to take advantage of in order to get there.
What would be the one piece of advice you would give to anyone considering a career in financial services?
Go for it. More than any other, I believe financial services is an industry where you can make what you want from it.
People with new and fresh ideas are always going to do well and the skills you will pick up will easily be transferable to other industries should you move on in your career.
Karen Barrett is chief executive at IFA Promotion