Having recently completed a summer internship programme with First Wealth, I wanted to pen my thoughts on my experience of working at one of London’s top financial planning and wealth management firms and share how the experience has helped shape my plans for the future.
As a proactive university student, I wanted to decide early on the area of finance I wanted to work in. For the last few years I have liked the idea of both investing and helping clients, so I wanted to find a role that could incorporate both of those interests.
I attended a talk at university, where the speaker gave a broad talk on the financial industry. He spoke about the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments (CISI) and the benefits that taking one of their exams and subsequently becoming a member could bring. Inspired by his words I set about completing their Fundamentals of Financial Services exam in May 2018.
Taking full advantage of being a member, I attended a number of events that allowed me to network with those in the industry and hear stories from those that had built established careers within the sector.
How It All Began
It was during this time that I was recommended to get in touch with the team at First Wealth. A firm that I had heard a great deal about thanks in part due to their numerous award wins and a number of peers noting their vibrant workplace culture and their future focussed outlook to wealth management and financial planning.
After some initial conversations First Wealth showed a real willingness to support young people like myself in their career and we arranged for a week’s placement at their office in Marylebone to get a feel for what life would be like working as a financial advisor. I was able to spend time with the team and understand what they most enjoyed about their roles and gain an insight into where the industry was set to go in the coming years and understand what First Wealth where going to do to stay ahead, and continue offering the high end service their clients expect from them.
With the placement only being a week, time flew by and it was over before I knew it. Although brief, the experience was helpful in many ways. It’s given me a great opportunity to compare the worlds of asset and wealth management and help in building a picture of exactly what I want to do in the future. Given how eager I was to be in a client-facing role, and the experience gained in both areas, it wasn’t a particularly hard decision to choose the wealth management route.
However, I still couldn’t be sure that it was for me after such a short time and with a whole summer free at the end of my second year at University, I wanted to experience it for longer. I proposed the idea of a two-month summer internship. First Wealth were excited to have me back and we soon sorted out the details and dates.
Having already spent some time at First Wealth in my first university summer, I had high expectations of what it would be like working full time with them. I wanted to learn about the sector in more detail as well as what goes on day-to-day in an IFA firm. I’m really pleased to say that the experience far exceeded my expectations.
One particular project that interested me most was finding out more about the new First Wealth Evidence Based Portfolios.
This was an interesting one for me because of my initial views on the type of investment strategy I thought was perhaps best to implement. There is a lot of debate currently over Active vs Passive strategies within the world of finance. The crux of it is essentially that those who support the idea of active investing believe that certain fund managers can pick securities that outperform the market and provide investors with the best return, for a premium fee, of course.
The passive investing supporters argue that by investing in the index, and tracking the market, they can generate a decent, but more importantly a consistent return.
First Wealth have opted for an interesting twist in the above based on the overwhelming amount of evidence that all points to the idea of buying securities proportionate to different countries and markets capitalisation globally. Thereby, opting for a more passive approach and realising large cost savings for clients, without simply tracking a market’s index and rebalancing the underlying funds twice-yearly.
When I started my internship, there was no hiding that I was firmly on the active investing side of the debate, something I definitely got a bit of stick for around the office! However, throughout the project, I spent a great deal of time working out the amount of fees which will be saved and forecasted the increase in returns they will likely benefit from. I have to admit that after all of this, I’ve definitely been swayed in my beliefs as to which strategy is best.
After completing some vigorous background regulatory requirements, I have also had the opportunity to attend client meetings, which has given me a strong understanding of what it will be like to work in this sector once I finish my degree. Watching the advisors deal with clients’ who have different circumstances, views, and ambitions has been an interesting one – an experience that I have picked up a lot of tips and ideas from.
The future is bright
I am now eager to get back to university and graduate so that I can get started in my career. For me, I don’t see any reason to waste time and want to get straight into completing my Level 4 Diploma with the Chartered Insurance Institute. This will give me a solid grounding of technical knowledge needed to progress into a client facing role as soon as I have the experience to match.
My summer at First Wealth has been great. It’s given me an insight into what my life will be like next year and has given me the opportunity to meet some fantastic people along the way. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how my career develops from this point forward!