Director Paul Gibson and Chartered Financial Planner Andrew Gilmore discuss the benefits of a career in finance
How did you begin your career in finance?
PG: At 14 I spent work experience at Yorkshire Bank (YB), so on leaving school at 16 I applied to the Middlesbrough branch. I didn’t enjoy school, so I focused on getting a job rather than going to college. Supported (and funded) by the bank, I studied for banking qualifications at night school. At 21 an opportunity arose to move to the financial advice arm (of YB) and 3 years later I was promoted to Independent Financial Adviser (IFA).
AG: After school I studied for A levels in Accounting and Business Studies at college. Similar to Paul, I didn’t want to continue in full time education, so I took the apprenticeship route with North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC). Initially I was interested in accountancy, but after several interviews realised it wasn’t for me. In 2007 when a Business Administration apprenticeship role at Active Financial Planners was advertised, I went for it.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their career in the industry now?
PG: Seek advice from industry professionals and keep an open mind. There are many different roles allowing you to progress with experience and qualifications. Here we have client facing and non-client facing roles – advisory to client support plus more specialist roles like communications. We will always find a place for great people – follow us on Twitter & LinkedIn!
AG: Use the help available to you; attend careers events, speak to professionals and access free programmes from organisations like The High Tide Foundation.
Look at entry requirements – you may not need to go to university and instead take the apprenticeship/internship route.
What benefits does a career in finance offer?
PG: There are a huge variety of different roles in this industry so you can progress as far as your aspirations take you. We have a flexible working environment; some people work part time and others work from the office or from home. Flexibility is essential for a happy team.
AG: Excellent career progression. I’ve had the opportunity to work in a variety of roles here.
Building relationships with clients over a number of years offers you huge benefits – clients return to you and refer you to others.
Andrew, how has having Paul as a mentor helped with your career?
Being mentored by Paul means I’ve had the advice and support of someone with huge experience who can help in so many different situations. I’ve always felt supported – Paul has been instrumental in my career.
Paul, is mentoring particularly beneficial for people beginning a career in the financial sector? And why?
100% yes! As there are so many different roles, opportunities and qualifications a mentor is there to help, support and educate. As a mentor I can also identify the potential of talented individuals.
Andrew, how has your role in the sector changed since you started as an apprentice?
My apprenticeship was in a support/administration role. In 2010 I began my industry exams, qualifying as a paraplanner in 2012. I continued studying and began advising clients in 2013, achieving Chartered Financial Planner status in 2015.
How has the sector changed since you started?
PG: The biggest change for me is that financial advice has shifted from being sales to service focused. Our focus is 100% on the client; putting them at the centre of everything we do. Building long-term, trusted relationships together with a clear strategy and robust financial plan has been key to our success in recent years.
Both – what do you like about your role?
PG: For me it’s the balance between advising clients, which I’ve done for almost 30 years and my role as a director. It’s very rewarding bringing my experience as an adviser to my director role to support and mentor other team members.
AG: I love building long term, trusted relationships with clients and seeing my advice coming to fruition. Watching clients benefit from that advice gives huge job satisfaction.