I joined First Wealth back in 2018 and started within the industry after leaving school in 2015. I had previously worked for two firms who serviced clients returning from overseas. These clients had been living as expats for varying periods of time, all had now decided it was time to return to the UK.
My role was to service these clients to help them manage their finances on their return to ensure they were aligned to UK regulation. To be frank, these clients typically came back with a host of problems, they held expensive investment and pension plans not suitable to be held in the UK.
Looking back, it’s clear to see the differences to how we work now. Our objective week to week was to move clients from a commission paying model to one of assets under management (AUM). The advice was very much product led. I felt we were only ever rectifying problems that should never have been there rather than providing life changing advice in some cases for clients. After a short period of building my knowledge and skills I’d realised I was no longer excited by what we were doing and more importantly, we were not truly helping our clients.
I classify these experiences as far more traditional financial advice. You focused far more on the money and it was all about recommending products to grow your clients’ wealth. The profession is evolving, and lifestyle financial planning goes beyond what is traditionally seen as ‘financial advice or wealth management’. Naturally any advice process will end with recommendations but it’s not just about assets – it’s about their background, their philosophy, ambitions and personal financial wellbeing. Only by truly trying to understand these concepts for each client can you find the correct solutions. It’s about getting to grips with each individual situation and prioritising your client’s motivations in order to understand what needs to happen today to make their future aspirations a reality.
At First Wealth we are forward thinking, we have a strong belief in our why – we exist to create confidence, inspire ideas and give people the freedom to live. We want people to feel good about their finances.
Part of this is breaking through the pointless noise in the industry. We create a plan utilising cashflow planning software, to allow our clients to see their financial futures with extreme clarity. We provide investment portfolios based on evidence not judgement. Instead of focusing on what geographical location will perform best and discussing whether to invest in corporate bonds or government bonds or discussing how specific stocks have done really well, it’s about understanding how your investment plans will help you to build your ideal lifestyle, provide you the freedom to spend more time with your family, allow work to become a choice rather than a necessity or help you tick off your bucket list items.
From these experiences it’s always right to focus on the lessons you’ve learnt along the way. Financial planning can truly be life changing, when explaining lifestyle planning it appears so obvious that people ask, ‘why has everyone not been doing it this way?’. As financial planners, we are looking after generations of family money, people’s livelihood, their legacy, it’s important to understand the magnitude of what we do. Beyond this, always be honest to clients, they respect it – it’s never wrong to do the right thing and you’re certainly in the wrong industry if you don’t truly care for the families you are helping.
From a technical perspective, always be educating yourself, never be complacent there is always more to learn and understand. Be open to new methods and embrace technology, the biggest risk to our profession is to believe ‘we’ve always done it this way’.
I would love to see more younger advisers like myself come into the profession, it’s an amazing thing for a client to know that you will, more times than not, always be working with them. Being young is an advantage.
For new people coming into the profession it is important to pick a firm that aligns to your beliefs, a firm who allows its own people to grow and evolve in their roles, who allow you to have a voice and are transparent in your career progression. Not everyone wants to be an adviser and at a firm these people must be equally valued. Learn from as many people in the industry as possible, those who have set the standards. Listen to them, observe them and then craft your own unique style. Avoid the noise and form your own opinions based on all the information you can gather.
Looking to the future, I want to continue to encourage my clients to live a fulfilled life. I want to help First Wealth continue to grow which in turn will allow us to reach a much larger proportion of people. I want to drive the profession forward by keeping my mind open to new ideas which enhance how we provide advice. We have a duty of care to our clients to embrace change if this will lead to better outcomes for them.
I’m passionate about financial education for younger people, I feel the school system fails kids every day by overlooking the importance of basic money matters. I’m excited about First Wealth’s new financial education website, Let’s Talk About Money. This important initiative will enable us to help people understand the over complicated world that is finance. I’m keen to become increasingly involved in this movement and in turn, I hope I will be able to inspire the next generation of lifestyle financial planners and help them as I have been helped.