Let's get the basics!
Name: Kerry Burgess
Tell us about your role...
My role is so varied. On one given day I can be doing business invoicing and getting the accounts together and then holding 1-1’s with the team, running training sessions or having business planning discussions with the management team. I am connected to every aspect of the business in one way or another, which keeps things busy but interesting.
The business has grown by five people in the last year alone, which has meant my role has developed from managing everyone directly, to instating two Heads of Department who oversee the Client Relationship Management and Technical Analyst teams. Though this means less direct reports, it means more responsibility and higher expectations.
One of my main focuses over the course of the last few years has been to develop the First Wealth Academy and ensure the development of team members who want to progress in their career. I am heavily involved in the planning and training sessions it takes to get people upskilled to the level we insist on in the business.
To help with the HR aspects of my role, we recently integrated Culture Amp, a highly efficient platform that allows us to measure and streamline career development, employee engagement, team feedback, and identify problems as early as possible. This was immensely helpful when we transitioned from being predominantly office based to working from home when the UK entered the first lockdown. Not to mention virtually onboarding the five new starters that have joined since then.
What is your long-term goal?
To become the Culture and Development Director at First Wealth. Though this role does not exist yet, I imagine this to be a hybrid of what I’m doing now, but an additional focus on where the business is headed. I would like to continue to oversee the team, whilst passing more responsibility to the middle management team as they develop and grow within their roles.
As a B Corp, I think it is vital to keep the heart of the business pumping throughout our growth. Many companies that experience growth tend to forget their morals and values along the way, but we are determined to make it through unscathed.
I am about to embark on an official HR qualification in the form of an CIPD intermediate level 5 diploma. I was sure I had finished taking exams at this stage in my career but since joining First Wealth, my perspective has changed. I love to keep learning new things, getting better and following a journey of continuous development.
What are you passionate about?
In a nutshell, my driving passion is helping others to achieve their career goals. I am in a unique position in the business where I get to know people on a more personal level. This means I can identify areas of strength, areas of development and put a plan in place to help people achieve what they set out to. I am a trained mentor and coach which helps me to get to the crux of a conversation easily and provide support for all our team.
I am also passionate about improving the business, from better benefits to intelligent processes that ensure the most efficient working for everyone. When I joined First Wealth, we were spending a lot of budget with recruiters, but now with our marketing working its magic and us strengthening our brand, I am inundated with CVs on a weekly basis. This tells me we are doing something right.
Finally, I have both a personal and professional target to improve the diversity and inclusion metrics at First Wealth. We have taken steps to recruit from a wide range of backgrounds, reaching out to charitable organisations and networks in the process. Though we have successfully met and sustained our Women in Finance Charter commitment to have 50/50 split at middle management level and above, my next goal is to improve the female to male ratio of planners we employ.
Advice for people entering the profession?
Personality, drive, and ambition are things you cannot teach. Knowledge is fantastic in any sector, but I regard people skills and how you come across a lot higher than numbers on paper. I like to feel that the individual I am talking to is equally as passionate about what they do and that they want to succeed and achieve their career goals.
One piece of advice to anybody starting their CII Level 4 Diploma – take your RO2 exam before you take RO1 (R01 isn’t the most entertaining of study texts). As part of our ongoing training plan at First Wealth, we help each individual to plan their examinations, but also the soft skills required within the profession to build lasting and meaningful relationships with those we work with.
There are a lot of stuffy financial planning businesses, luckily, we do not follow this trend. The profession is so vast from working with a fund manager, or investment house, to a financial planner and wealth management organisation. Where you start your career does not have to define where you end up.
Finally, and most importantly, find a business that aligns with you and your values. This will help you deliver in every aspect of your role, no matter what it is.
What do you do in your spare time?
Pre lockdown, I loved going to the gym, going swimming, weekly Sh’bam classes, going for walks in National Trust parks and visiting the beach. I have two children, so I enjoy time spent with them, planning family days and watching them grow. We are getting to the stage now where it’s not seen as cool to be with their mum!
Tell us something about you that not many people know...
I have no idea how, but I got through to grade three piano without being able to read music. I just watched my teacher and copied by ear.
As a teenager at the time, I got bored of having piano lessons when I wanted to be out with my friends, but it is something I have considered regularly to return to. You never know, I might learn to read the music this time.
Last words? Favourite quote? Book recommendations?
One book that had a profound effect on my life is Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud. It is all about letting go of things that no longer serve you. I left a job I was in as a result of reading this book, as I felt it had become a repetitive habit, rather than moving me towards my goals. I appreciated the journey I had been on, the things it had taught me, but I realised I had become stagnant in my position with nowhere left to go but still had a lot more to give.