We asked Sean Banks about his role, the profession, and what he'd be doing if he wasn't a financial planner.
What do you like most about your role?
Connecting with people from varying walks of life, all with a story to share about their own personal experiences and desires for the future. There isn’t really another profession I can think of where I would be able to build these sorts of long-term relationships. I feel truly blessed that I somehow managed to stumble upon this incredibly challenging and rewarding career.
Originally, I was interested in finance and the supposedly exciting world of investment management. By sheer good fortune, I soon found myself steered down the path of becoming a life-centred financial planner, rather than join the army of soothsayers-in-suits.
Placing clients and their families at the centre of it all, using investment strategies based on evidence rather than make-believe, and financial products used only as tools to build meaningful financial plans, provides unbridled meaning and satisfaction not just for me, but also the incredible people I serve.
What’s been the best thing you’ve changed about your business?
I came into this game thinking all I needed was enough technical knowledge to demonstrate I knew what I was talking about, and clients would automatically want to do business with me. Everyone needs financial advice, right? What I soon realised, however, is that financial planning is about real people with real stuff going on in their lives and the importance of building a true relationship is the number one thing in this business. If clients don’t believe you’ve truly got their backs no matter what, you’ll spend your whole time justifying your existence.
Shifting focus from investment management and technical knowledge to a real interest in people and their lives, has been the thing I am most grateful for in my career so far. Rather than me showing off how clever I am, as if I know something the rest of the world doesn’t, client interactions are seen solely as an opportunity to further deepen the relationship. The rest just falls into place from there.
What’s the best piece of tech you’ve introduced to your business?
Seems obvious now, but virtual client meetings were something we’ve offered for some time and have made an enormous difference to our ability to speak to clients and keep up-to-date with what’s going on in their lives.
Of course, face-to-face is always best. However, it’s great that clients can see and speak to us without having to navigate traffic or train timetables. A win/win for all.
If you could change one thing about the profession, what would it be?
We have certainly made progress in this area, but I would like to see more advisers adopt the life-centred planning approach with clients to create a more meaningful experience for people who engage with financial advice.
There’s no doubt we need to encourage talented people to enter the profession, and the more we can make the role of financial planner about people and planning rather than sales and spreadsheets, the better it will be for the profession and clients alike.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a financial adviser?
Zoology. I have a fascination with animals and nature that has stemmed from childhood. There is a lot we as humans can learn from the animal kingdom.
What one word sums you up and why?
Curious. I have the (sometimes annoying) habit of wanting to question and explore the meaning behind everything.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Malcolm Gladwell. A true scholar of human social science. I’d love to explore his ideas on what lies underneath the surface motivating people to behave the way they do.
Kevin Hart. Not only a hilarious sense of humour, but one of the most dedicated, hard-working people in showbusiness.
My grandfather. Sadly, he left us too soon and I would cherish a conversation with him over dinner and a bottle of wine (or two!).