When I was 16, my father gave me £2,000 to manage a high-risk AIM stocks portfolio. I looked at the back of the Daily Mail and picked 10 stocks at £200 each. I picked some losers but also a couple of big winners; this was in the 1999 tech boom after all. From that moment I was hooked on finance and money, and was fascinated by the way markets worked.
The natural course of action would have been to become an investment banker in the City and earn a shedload of money. Unfortunately, my home sickness and my natural calling to do the right thing meant that was not a good fit for me, so I ended up taking a job in sales support at Aegon in Manchester.
That was my first foray into the world of financial advice, and from there I was lucky enough to land a job for a year as a trainee at a very successful local IFA firm before getting where I am today, a director at Xentum.
Why it pays to support young advisers
Xentum has committed to supporting graduates and younger advisers, and we have a path to senior management in place. I am 33 and Xentum’s other three advisers are in their mid-30s and early 40s, which is a lot younger than most firms.
We are interested in the future stars of the financial planning world because we believe this enables us to stay dynamic in an ever-changing environment, particularly when it comes to regulation and technology.
Our vision is forward looking because we believe our youth, qualifications and working structure is a big advantage in a competitive market place. As a small business, it has helped us make a decent profit this year and survive one of the worst recessions the world has seen.
Xentum paid for all my exams. It was quite a big gamble taking me on and supporting my study but I believe I have paid that back. Now that I have recently been made a director, I am in the best possible position to help Xentum keep progressing.
I have met some brilliant financial advisers who I admire, particularly on Twitter, and these professionals are driving the world of financial planning forward.
Hopefully in 10 to 15 years, when you say you are a chartered or certified financial planner, people will know it stands for something because of these people.
Grabbing great clients
I now only take on new clients who are what I call ‘aspiring professionals or business owners’. That is not to say I don’t already have a great client bank, some of whom are retirees, but commitment to working with younger clients means they can work with you for many years to come (so long as you can meet their expectations.)
One of the objections to taking on younger staff is the age gap for dealing with older, more experienced clients. In practical terms, I knew when it was the right time to start advising and this was carefully managed by Xentum.
Many of the clients I now look after are confident that I will be around for the next 15-20 years, which is a big question when a client decides on which firm to work with. Not enough firms appreciate this.
One tip I could give any aspiring planner is to be patient. There are huge opportunities in the profession as more and more professional financial planning firms grow.
Although there is little likelihood of making big money at the outset, in the long run it is a rewarding career both emotionally and financially.
Business owners should take a look at some of the firms that show faith and back people like me as these firms seem to be showing significant growth.
Do not just think of young recruits as administrators or paraplanning staff; give them reasons to speak to clients and they can start to engage with the younger generations that the firm could tap into. It is a win-win situation for both the firm and the adviser.
Adam Carolan is a director at Xentum.