I’ve worked within the administration team at Face to Face Finance, a firm of independent financial advisers based in Norwich since 2011.
Since I have worked at Face to Face Finance, I have successfully done pretty much every job in the office, from reports and reception duties to being PA to one of our financial consultants – all of these give me a great grounding in my current role as compliance director. This job includes making sure all of our reports and letters are correct and accurate and our procedures and processes are documented. I enjoy dealing with more complex queries that we receive in the office.
Starting out as an apprentice
I started at Face to Face Finance as an apprentice straight from sixth form at 18. I’m not sure that anyone leaves school thinking that they really want to get into financial services but the apprenticeship was in business administration so it meant I could work towards the qualification whilst dipping my toe in the financial services industry.
I knew at sixth form that I didn’t want to go to university, despite my tutors telling me to ‘apply anyway’. I’d never really considered doing an apprenticeship until I found myself applying for the role at Face to Face Finance.
I honestly cannot speak highly enough of my experience as an apprentice. Apprenticeships seem to have a misconception as being for the ‘less academic’ but I would challenge anyone who thinks that is the case. An apprenticeship is a great way to get into financial services (or any industry) as you gain valuable work experience within a firm whilst also gaining qualifications at the same time. Win-win!
The world of finance
Anyway, twelve months later at the end of the business administration apprenticeship, I was sold into the financial services industry. Face to Face Finance offered me the opportunity to complete another apprenticeship at the next level up but this time in financial services. Again, I took this opportunity to learn, this time more specifically about the world of finance all the while working hard in my role in the office.
At the end of the financial services apprenticeship, I then studied for my Level 4 Diploma in financial advice. This is the industry recognised qualification to be able to give professional financial advice, which although isn’t something I personally would like to do, it does provide me with a valuable knowledge bank which I refer to each and every day in my role, both then and now.
Alongside working towards my Diploma, I became a will writer and estate planner. This means I could (and still can) go out and advise clients on their wills and estate planning issues.
I am currently working towards the status of ‘chartered financial planner’, which requires me to sit a series of Level 6 equivalent exams. Definitely my biggest challenge to date!
What it’s like to work in finance
There is no such thing as an ‘average’ day in my role as there is so much variety. I usually arrive at the office at 8am and start the day by going through my emails with a coffee. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours (yes, I really do have that many emails!). By the time I have finished, I then get cracking on whatever needs to be done. Like I said, this varies from dealing with client queries to creating and updating new processes within the office to ensure everything runs smoothly.
The part of my job which I enjoy most is being able to provide a great, friendly service to all of our clients. This is also the thing that drives me to continue working hard as I feel like we really make a difference to our client’s lives. After all money is important to everyone, whether they like to admit it or not!
Launching a finance podcast
I am also currently involved with a new podcast venture called Your Recipe for Financial Success. Me and two of my colleagues came up with the idea whilst doing some ‘lockdown’ baking as there are lots of terms within the world of finance that can easily be explained away using baking and food analogies. Not only that, who doesn’t love food?!
We have combined the two to come up with our fortnightly podcast. In each episode, we talk about a particular area in finance. We make each episode digestible and easy to understand. The idea is that anyone of any financial ability could tune in and hopefully learn a tip or two!
If you were considering a career in finance, I definitely wouldn’t let a misconception of needing to be an A* maths student put you off. I wasn’t the best at maths when I was at school but nine years down the line, it has never held me back. As long as you are determined and enthusiastic, you will be surprised at how much you pick up as you go through – working on different cases with different figures means you soon learn the ropes.
A lot of what we do is customer service related and generally helping people to achieve their goals and understanding their motives behind them, which is really satisfying. Who wouldn’t want to go home at the end of every day feeling like they have helped to make a difference to someone?
What I’d tell my younger self
If I could give my 16-year-old self-one piece of advice it would be that your work ethic can get you a long way. Yes, having good grades is important but if you are willing to work hard, learn and have a positive attitude then that is even more important when you get out into the big wide world of work!
To listen to the podcast Your Recipe for Financial Success, visit: www.recipeforfinancialsuccess.co.uk