What was your first job in financial services?
I worked at Guardian Royal Exchange in the sales support team in Bristol preparing quotations for IFAs and our tied advisers, some of whom I still meet at conferences!
Describe your current role.
I am an insight consultant in the wealth and protection team at Defaqto, focused on leading panel and due diligence consultancy projects, mainly on platforms and retirement income.
What is your biggest challenge currently?
I am thinking a lot about how the retirement reforms are affecting the advice process and adviser propositions. While the reforms are about pensions, the changes have much wider implications for financial planning. IFAs are exceptionally well placed to help clients on investments, pensions, tax, long-term care, wills and estates – all subjects that inter-relate now more than ever before. Retirement is now explicitly about more than pensions, which means advisers being able to structure long-term plans to deliver the income and capital outcomes that their clients are asking for. However, they may need to develop new long-term propositions and processes to deliver such comprehensive services cost effectively.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
I cannot distinguish between the personal achievement of being one of the first Chartered Financial Planners, and the professional recognition of fellow planners in winning Financial Planner of the Year at a recent industry awards ceremony.
What is your career ambition?
To continually find better ways of doing things by always being open to new ideas from world-class strategic thinkers and marketing experts, including those from outside financial services.
How would you advise someone starting out in the industry?
Financial planning, now more than ever before, is a profession. It is about seeking the interests of clients first, doing the right thing and behaving ethically and with integrity. It is not only about knowledge but also about understanding, and increasingly about being able to apply your knowledge to the infinite variety of client circumstances you will encounter. Take time to be the best you can be in terms of your knowledge but also take time to learn how to be the best you can be in terms of personal skills, including coaching and counselling. In the end, this is a profession built on long-term relationships of trust at both personal and corporate levels, so stick to your principles and always be true to yourself.