Motivation for Becoming the Youngest Fellow
I have always had a passion for helping people and I realised that the main barrier between me being able to give advice was that I didn’t have the relevant exams. I started my career at Attivo Group as a co-ordinator for the client engagement team and I asked the advisers about their experiences, the exams and whether I might be able to shadow some of their meetings. I spent the first three months of my employment at Attivo (December 2014-February 2015) learning the basics of the business, shadowing advisers when permitted and catching up on my day to day duties in the evening.
After plenty of note taking and having read some body language and rapport focused literature, I mapped out my training plan and decided that I would attempt to complete the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning in 6 months around my day to day duties at Attivo. This meant a lot of evening/weekend study and although our training manager had said that he had not ever seen anyone complete the diploma without any relevant industry relevant experience in that time, he said that he would allow me to take each exam providing I did not fail any of them.
This was the beginning of my motivation; I knew what I needed to do in order to be able to carry out a job role that I would love.
Keeping Motivation Levels High
At times it was very difficult to maintain motivated, especially at the beginning where I would have to decline social invitations in favour of study. However, I found that as I studied, I started to find techniques that enabled me to study ‘smarter’. After a few months I had streamlined the study process so that tasks that would have taken me multiple hours would now only take me an hour because I had taught myself how to retain information and learn in ways that engage me the most. This meant that I was able to hit my daily and weekly goals much faster, which freed up social time.
The whole process will have been going on for about 21 months come December, which is when I receive my final results. This means that providing I have passed my October exams and that I pass J12 before December; I have taken and passed 20 exams without failing in a 21 month period. I found that my life became a lot more regimented, which helped me in other aspects of life such as saving, fitness and even in day to day activities because I planned out each day first thing in the morning.
I realised from a very early stage that qualifications alone do not make a good adviser but I wanted to make sure that I had the knowledge to put together complex financial solutions for clients that required them. I have always felt that being an adviser is an incredibly privileged position and I thoroughly enjoy building relationships with clients and plan to do so over the long term. Many of the clients at Investment Quorum have been with us for twenty or thirty years and being able to see how strong the client relationship is between directors Petronella West, Lee Robertson and their clients is amazing, and a fantastic learning environment for me to be in.
Juggling Life, Work & the Exams
Alongside the exams I was playing football at least once a week, working my usual 40 hour week at Attivo and played tennis regularly. I found it difficult to juggle everything at first but as I became more regimented and organised I started to find this much easier. I studied for at least two hours each day and had regular banter with my football manager for eating pizza before evening games (I didn’t have time to go out and buy any food so I ordered it in and revised!), despite being the top goal scorer!
In August of 2015 I passed R06 to complete my Diploma and as such I was promoted to an Employee Benefits Consultant within the Group, which was my first advisory role. Over the following eight months, I completed nine exams, including AF3 and AF4 whilst leading Attivo’s Corporate Advisory Team and growing the client base by 50%, I also managed to fit in a two week trip to Thailand with some friends. These achievements were recognised by Attivo’s CEO and the CII when I won the CII’s Achiever of the Year 2016 for Cheltenham and Gloucestershire, after being nominated by a director from the business and the CEO personally writing my nomination form.
I have found that since joining Investment Quorum, I am applying many of the complex technicalities from the exams with real clients, particularly within tax and pension planning, this proved to be useful within my October exam sittings which I felt went very well, but I shall receive results for these exams on the 2nd of December 2016.
The hardest exam for me so far has been AF3, which is Pension Planning. The reason for this is because much of the content is historical and not something I had experienced before. In addition to this, I learnt all of the content myself without any courses or coaching which meant that if I were to get a bit stuck on one particular subject, I would have to work out the solution myself. In many ways this worked out to be an advantage because having to work out solutions myself meant that the knowledge was further embedded in my mind.
I plan to take the Masters in Wealth Management which is a part-time course at Cass Business School once I have finished my Fellowship. I follow many influential people and something that seems to come up a lot is continuous development, which is something I believe in. I want to become the best possible version of me and I’m passionate about helping others on the same journey. I mentor many young professionals and have also formed Entrepreneurs and Investment groups where we are able to discuss any innovative ideas relating to the future of the industry and topical investments or investment strategies based in current and predicted market conditions.
I would encourage anyone to get in touch with me via LinkedIn should they wish to partake in such discussions.