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Fresh Faces: Five of the newest recruits to financial advice

New Model Adviser® profiled five of the newest recruits to financial advice firms.

Fresh Faces

Our Fresh Faces series profiles some of the new recruits to the financial advice profession.

This latest batch of five newcomers includes a former footballer and an ethical investment specialist, and speaks to advisers from firms spread out from London to Glasgow.

Click through for more, or read our previous round-ups here and here.

Fresh Faces

Our Fresh Faces series profiles some of the new recruits to the financial advice profession.

This latest batch of five newcomers includes a former footballer and an ethical investment specialist, and speaks to advisers from firms spread out from London to Glasgow.

Click through for more, or read our previous round-ups here and here.

James Greenly, chartered financial planner, Capital Asset Management

It may be surprising to hear that, at the age of just 25, James Greenly has spent nearly a decade in the profession. He is a chartered financial planner at Capital Asset Management, with his own client bank and working in London.

Greenly’s journey began unassumingly at the age of 16. ‘I printed off dozens of CVs, bought a cheap suit from Next and my dad drove me to financial advice, law and accountancy firms in Norfolk,’ says Greenly. ‘He booted me out of the car and said “Right, I want you to go in and ask for the manager.”’

One of these firms was former cover star, Norwich-based RJL IFA. Admiring his charisma, director Simon Kiley offered Greenly a trial before taking him on. Greenly spent seven years there, going from tea boy to portfolio analyst. ‘Simon was great, a real inspiration. He took a gamble on me in 2007 and I will be forever grateful,’ says Greenly.

Capital’s gain

In 2014 Greenly decided it was time for a new challenge and, after a short spell with Lucas Fettes & Partners at its Norwich office, he headed for the Big Smoke. ‘London always seemed a pipe dream but I just told myself: “If I don’t do it now I never will.”’ Everything fell into place when he joined Capital at the end of 2015.

Chief executive Alan Smith’s (pictured) business model may be making a stir in the profession but Greenly says flat-fee charging is a ‘breath of fresh air’. ‘I got into the profession because I want to develop long-term relationships with people as their trusted adviser, not just be someone trying to sell them something,’ he says.

‘I’ve taken exams to help people achieve their goals. But, if I have to move a pension from A to B and charge X% because I want my bonus and a holiday, well that doesn’t seem right to me. That’s why our flat fee for service approach works so well.’

This year Greenly will continue getting to know his new client bank and develop his soft skills to complement his growing list of qualifications. Here’s to Greenly turning a pipe dream into a reality.

Charity work

‘I volunteer at Citizens Advice one day a month through the Personal Finance Society MoneyPlan scheme,’ says Greenly. ‘It’s wonderful to be able to help those who often can’t afford financial advice.’

First job

‘My first job was at RJL IFA doing administration and making cups of tea,’ Greenly says. ‘I can’t believe it’s been over nine years.’

Retirement plans

‘I love London so I’d like to keep my flat as a city crash pad,’ says Greenly. ‘I’d spend some time with my family in New Zealand; I adore New Zealand but it can feel a bit sleepy. I’d have the best of both worlds.’

Kevin McCann, trainee financial adviser, Independent Benefit Consultancy

It is not every week we feature a Scottish League Cup winner on our Fresh Face page. But we have that honour on this occasion, as we sit down for a chat with former Hibernian star Kevin McCann.

These days you can still see McCann in action on the pitch for Scottish third tier side Albion Rovers, but he also holds the role of trainee financial adviser at Independent Benefit Consultancy (IBC) in Glasgow.

McCann’s career has been a Boy’s Own story. The 29-year-old took his career well beyond the lively stadiums of Scotland, and the homely whiff of scotch pie and Bovril. He moved to Singapore, and Warriors FC, the club with which he became the first Scotsman to ever win an S. League title.

During this two-season stint in Singapore, McCann started thinking about life after football. The inspiration to delve into financial advice came from former footballer Pete Cormack, who gave McCann advice in the early stages of his career. ‘The way he helped me back then was great,’ reflects McCann. ‘The opportunity to help other people get advice really appealed to me.’

Second to none

When McCann returned to Scotland in January 2016 he made headway on his exams, and by the end of the year started seeking employment. A meeting with IBC’s Derek Allan led to a chat with IBC managing director, and 2016 New Model Adviser® cover star, Ken Simpson (pictured). McCann joined the rapidly growing Glasgow business later in the year.

Seven months later, McCann appears to relish the role. As a trainee, he has been providing a mixture of administration and paraplanning, but has also accompanied Simpson on client meetings. ‘It’s a great office: very, very positive,’ says McCann.

McCann has benefited from working closely with Simpson. ‘I’ve met many IFAs through introducers, and the way Ken operates is the best I’ve seen,’ he says. Ken, Derek and the advisers all have great values. I know I’m being taught the best way to do things, and if it’s not the best thing for the client, we won’t proceed.’

Concluding this piece, I almost have to remind myself that football and advice do not always mix well. I also feel as though I may be the first person in Britain to report a story involving footballers, sound financial advice, and wholesome values. To borrow from the football phrasebook: ‘You could not make it up!’

Charity work

‘When I was playing in Singapore I coached in Indonesia,’ says McCann. ‘We did sessions for a local village. I don’t speak Malay, and they didn’t speak English, but you could enjoy the smiles on the kids’ faces.’

First job

‘My first club was Hibs,’ says McCann. ‘To leave school to play professional football was a great achievement. I don’t regret anything. It was a great time in my life. I’m privileged that was my first job.’

Career ambitions

‘To be successful, happy and build a family,’ says McCann. ‘That’s Ken and Derek’s motivation, and I think that’s a great thing.’

Ciaran Stark, business innovation manager, Murphy Wealth

Almost everyone I meet in financial services tells me they ‘just fell into it’, writes Ian Horne. In fact, I would wager that I hear that sentence more frequently than someone who picks up a full-time salary filling potholes. As I speak to Ciaran Stark of Murphy Wealth in Glasgow, I wonder if it will always be the case.

Speaking to Stark, I think there is life in the phrase yet. Not only did Stark stumble into financial advice, but he also came across his current role, as business innovation manager, completely by chance. ‘Adrian Murphy [Murphy Wealth managing director] didn’t know exactly where he wanted me to work in the firm,’ he says. ‘So without wanting to be too self-deprecating, I’m basically a spare part!’

However, Murphy had known he wanted Stark on his team. The two had met while Stark was in the second year of his finance, investment and risk degree at Glasgow Caledonian University, when Stark had won an award for receiving the best marks on his course.

The award was sponsored by Murphy Wealth, and Stark and Murphy struck up a conversation that led to a summer internship. Upon graduating last year, Stark enjoyed a summer of sun in Florida, before returning to Glasgow and receiving a full-time job with Murphy.

Finding his way

Stark has since settled into his role, but has yet to carve out a clear career path. He is doing everything from basic administration to overseeing Murphy Wealth’s rebrand, to figuring out the Curo back-office system for the rest of the team. As such, the business innovation manager role is likely to be a stepping stone to something more recognisable.

The important thing is that Stark is enjoying his work. ‘The best part is being able to oversee the whole business,’ he explains. ‘In a massive firm I don’t think I’d be able to develop the kind of experience I’m getting here.’

The marketing work, in particular, has been enjoyable for the newcomer. ‘I think once the rebrand is launched, and I see it come to life, that’s going to be really rewarding,’ he says.

Stark’s attitude and drive was enough to encourage Murphy to add him to the team, and these traits will serve him well as he finds his feet in the financial world.

His approach to the opportunity of working at the firm is also quite refreshing. ‘The worst case scenario was that I wouldn’t enjoy it!’ he says. For other would-be planners wondering about the next step, the lesson is you do not need to have your entire life mapped out in your early 20s.

Charity work

Murphy Wealth, where Adrian Murphy (pictured) is a partner, sponsors the Glasgow Wealth and Networking Club, which puts small business owners in front of angel investors. ‘The sessions have gone down well,’ says Stark. ‘We keep hearing it’s not just another networking event.’

First job

‘My first job was as a waiter at a seafood restaurant in the Northwest Highlands,’ says Stark. ‘It was quite good, and it was something to do. You need to have something to do when you live up there!’

Retirement plans

‘In the short term, I’d quite like to have my own office,’ says Stark. ‘In the long term, I still haven’t figured it out.’

Liam Taylor, paraplanner, Castlefield

It is a typically gloomy day in Manchester when I speak to Liam Taylor, paraplanner/sub-adviser at ethical advice firm Castlefield. Nonetheless, the firm’s plush new office, boasting panoramic views of the city, provides an uplifting setting for an enjoyable chat.

‘So,’ I ask Taylor, ‘why did you choose to work for an ethical adviser?’ You might suspect a lifelong passion, but Taylor notes ‘conscious investment’ is a growing sector. ‘I had no expertise or knowledge in ethical investment before I joined,’ he admits. ‘But there’s a lot of opportunity here.’

He achieved a first class degree in accounting and finance from the University of Wolverhampton, but realised his initial career plan left a little to be desired. ‘About halfway through I thought: “there’s no way I want to be an accountant”.’

The next move was to work on the employee benefits side of advice for regional IFA Torquil Clark (now Bellpenny) in Wolverhampton. However, a glance across the office towards the wealth management team opened his eyes to a new opportunity.

‘After six months I realised I wanted to move into wealth management,’ he explains. While he was subsequently given the opportunity at Torquil Clark, his family and friends had largely moved up north and the call of Manchester was too loud to ignore.

Magnetic north

Taylor’s relocation led to a three-year stint at Genesis Wealth Management, where he learned some core paraplanning skills and built up a good knowledge base on markets in general. He then wanted a new challenge, and, while no jobs were being advertised at Castlefield, a 90-minute introductory chat got the ball rolling. ‘Sometimes you get a feeling straight away that you’re dealing with a good company,’ he says.

He was subsequently hired and has held the job for six months now. The role currently involves report writing and administration for the client bank of recent New Model Adviser® cover star and Castlefield partner Olivia Bowen (pictured), but also the opportunity to sit in on meetings. ‘The best part of what I do now is meeting the clients,’ he remarks.

Taylor also notes the enjoyable challenge of working with ethical investors. ‘Client objectives can be so diverse,’ he says. ‘It’s not just about money for the client, but the wider environment and other stakeholders. People have bespoke needs, and people are having more discussions about what their money actually does.’

This bodes well for the advice profession, and Taylor says Castlefield is working on some big growth plans in the run up to 2020.

Charity work

‘The most recent thing I did was Movember and, as a group, we raised about £1,500,’ says Taylor. ‘Homelessness is a huge issue in Manchester, so I’d like to do something to help with that.’

First job

‘Aged 16 I got a job at JJB Sports to save up for one of the first iPods,’ says Taylor. ‘I earned £3.22 an hour selling trainers, with some insubstantial commission.

Retirement plans

Forget retirement, first Taylor wants a client bank and to be more involved with markets. ‘I would like a role that allows for that, and eventually want to achieve chartered status,’ he says.

Andrew Mina, chartered financial planner, Partners Wealth Management

It is a scorcher of a day in London on the day I meet Andrew Mina, chartered financial planner at Partners Wealth Management, writes Ian Horne. As a result, I arrive at the Partners office a sweaty mess, in spite of my best efforts to sharpen up in the lift to the fifth floor.

Mina looks significantly smarter: perhaps he is better accustomed to the heat, having recently returned from a honeymoon trip to the Seychelles and Dubai.

The 28-year-old did not initially set out to become an adviser but his interest in psychology and finance is a potent blend in this business. Mina initially planned to study psychology in 2008 and was offered places on several university courses. However, a change of heart led him to a business management degree at the University of Westminster.

After graduating with a 2:1, he embarked on a master’s degree at the same university, this time in finance with accounting, before joining Asset & Investment Management in Kingston as a wealth management trainee. After two years with the firm, he joined Partners in May 2014.

Understanding clients

Though he eventually took a more conventional finance route, but Mina admits his fascination with the human mind remains. ‘I find it interesting to know how to gauge the person in front of you and what makes them tick,’ he says. ‘It’s the same with financial advice. Everyone comes to you for a reason, and it’s like problem solving. I enjoy helping people.’

Mina accompanies one of the firm’s partners John Sutton to all his client meetings, and performs back-office tasks such as research, recommendation writing and analysis.

In keeping with the firm’s ethos of putting faith in young talent, Mina has a small but growing client bank of his own. Client referrals can be tricky for younger advisers, but Mina has developed links with an accounting firm in Bromley, and has put personal connections to good use at his local church, St. Mary’s in Coulsdon. His wife and family work in the medical profession, so Mina has been working with doctors too.

He is also mastering his craft as part of the Partners academy, which provides a formal setup for training. ‘You’re never going to become a great adviser without listening to what people want and what they want to achieve,’ he says.

Charity work

‘I’m on the committee at my church, which meets every Sunday. We help to develop the church and take it forward. Part of the role is administration and finance, so I’m using my skills to the church’s benefit.’

First job

‘I worked as a barman at Harvester during my A-levels, taking drink orders and figuring out what needed to be done. I learned how to make a mean Rocky Horror as well!’

Career ambition

‘My drive is to be happy, and that’s not limited to work. It’s community-based too. I also want to become a partner, which is my main goal, and achieve fellowship.’

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