I’m an independent financial advisor based in HL Financial, Chester. I started in the industry in September 2018. I actually fell into the industry because I was doing a business course at college and it was a requirement to do two weeks work experience. My dad was having a pension review and his advisor invited me into his firm for a couple of weeks to see what the financial sector had to offer – I absolutely loved it.
I loved the vibe and the idea of being client facing and helping people with things that they might need advice with. This inspired me to seek a career in financial services. At the end of my college course I started contacting different financial firms in and around Cheshire, I didn’t have much of a success rate and I really struggled. I then changed my tactics to see if offering to do a day’s work experience for free, could spark some interest and then get me some good experience on my CV.
Shortly after, I had an email from HL offering me an interview for an administration role that they had available. You could say the rest is history because I haven’t looked back since!
I started off as a financial administrator, not knowing anything! I didn’t know what an ISA or a General Investment Account was, it was all alien to me. Roughly six months into my role, my boss Rob suggested that I look at some studying to support my role.
I started with R01 Regulation & Ethics and to be honest, I found it really hard. I actually failed my exam, which made me question if financial services was for me, whether I was good enough. I found the language difficult to absorb, not to mention the many, many different rules and regulations, and allowances to remember.
My firm were really supportive, and my boss Rob suggested that I try a different unit. So, I started on R05 Financial Protection, with a new revision strategy. Studies went really well and I passed my exam. This really boosted my confidence. I’m so glad that I took Rob’s advice with doing a different unit because otherwise, I might have walked away from my career altogether.
I then went back to R01 wit my new study strategy and I passed with flying colours! If there was a tip from me on studying, it would be to find a study technique that works for you. I hadn’t found that with my first shot at R01, which is why I was struggling. With the support of my work and my new mindset, study began to fall into place and I saw success off the back, which gave me the confidence I needed to move forward. I learnt that it wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, it was that I hadn’t found the right way.
The study guides for each unit are huge and the CII ones in particular are full of block text, which I quite liked as I was able to pick out bits I wanted to work on. As I’ve said, there is a lot of complex language that you have to learn, especially if you are new to the industry like I was. It’s easy to say for me because I have been through it but I would definitely say that in times when you are finding it hard, stick with it. It will get easier and it is so worth it.
What really helped me was my revision strategy but also my job. It was great to have real life scenarios to really bring the text books alive. This allowed me to process the information and learn so much easier.
After passing R05, then R01, I moved on to R04 Pensions & Retirement Planning. As you’ll note, I didn’t compete the units in any specific order, I just found what worked for me. I really love pensions, which is why this unit came next. I’m really looking forward to completing the advanced unit in this area as it is definitely one of my passions.
Once again, I found all of the material really hard at first, so I looked for some additional support. Up to this point, I had barely used my wider community within the industry, so I turned to LinkedIn. It was fantastic! It was and still is a real support, when you are learning and wanting to take the next steps in your career.
I learnt through my connections and quickly grew a network of people that I could go to for support. One person in particular was Luiza from BTS, who really supported me with ways to get through R04. This included introducing me to the BTS Study Buddy app which was just worth its weight in gold. I would really recommend having a look at this, for extra exam question practise. I used this app for R02 and R03 as well, both of which I went on to pass.
In April 2022, I took my final exam with R06 and I passed with my results being released in June. It was the best feeling ever to complete the diploma, all the hard work had paid off and I am so glad that I didn’t give up.
Qualification was brilliant, however, what I would say is that it’s great to have all of the exams but putting them into practice is a totally different thing.
I have completed a lot of internal training including role plays, to allow me to get to grips with the soft skills and putting the technical knowledge into action. It’s really important to build on how we communicate with clients.
I’ve now started to build my own bank of clients, by building relationships through networking. I love talking to people so I am really enjoying this side of the job. I hope that in time, I will create lots of trust within others, which will lead to me having even more clients of my own.
If you’re someone (like me) that loves to help people, you like a calculator and have a technical way of thinking, I would encourage you to consider a career in financial services. It’s a great role with huge opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives.
Read our Newly-Qualified Financial Adviser Role Profile for information on salary expectations, entry requirements, exams, and where to look for vacancies.
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Read another insightful article on ‘A Day in the Life of a Financial Planner’ to find out more about information about the Financial Planner role.