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Fresh faces: six of the newest recruits to financial advice

Here are six of the latest recruits to the financial advice profession.

Samantha Bennett, paraplanner, Epoch Wealth Management

Continuing down the path towards becoming a solicitor or entering the world of financial services was the question facing Samantha Bennett after graduating with a law degree and a subsequent masters focusing on commercial law.

Having become interested in banking and finance, while subsequently growing unsure of the rat race facing law graduates, she took the finance option.

Bennett’s decision initially took her to Capita, where she worked with a number of large investment trusts. She then progressed into paraplanning with a different company.

From there she moved to Epoch Wealth Management in Bath, where she currently works alongside adviser Ed Grobler, who featured as a fresh face on this page last year.

Samantha Bennett, paraplanner, Epoch Wealth Management

Continuing down the path towards becoming a solicitor or entering the world of financial services was the question facing Samantha Bennett after graduating with a law degree and a subsequent masters focusing on commercial law.

Having become interested in banking and finance, while subsequently growing unsure of the rat race facing law graduates, she took the finance option.

Bennett’s decision initially took her to Capita, where she worked with a number of large investment trusts. She then progressed into paraplanning with a different company.

From there she moved to Epoch Wealth Management in Bath, where she currently works alongside adviser Ed Grobler, who featured as a fresh face on this page last year.

Ambitious plans

‘It’s quite a varied role,’ says Bennett. ‘We do a lot of pensions, investments, protection, and I’m working on a lot of different cases every day. As a paraplanner, you’re involved every step of the way. I like being able to work closely with an adviser because you see every part of the advice.’

She likes the working environment at Epoch as it is a ‘level playing field’.

Although Bennett enjoys her current role, she is eager to move into investment management once she has mastered paraplanning.

‘Obviously it’s quite a long step,’ she says. She is already making moves in the right direction, having enrolled to do the Chartered Insurance Institute’s investment management exam.

‘The markets really interest me, as well as the things that effect its movements,’ she says. ‘I love the fast-paced nature and analytical side of it. It’s quite exciting.’

Keen rower

Outside the office, Bennett is a rower at Avon County Rowing Club. It is a demanding schedule of competing at the weekends and training three or four evenings each week.

‘We have competitions throughout the winter, and in the summer we have a lot of regattas,’ she says.

Charity work

Bennett is not currently involved in any fundraising, but Epoch is supporting Children’s Hospice Southwest this year.

Bennett says her colleague Helen Witcombe, assistant to Epoch partner Jon Rolfe, is climbing up to the Everest base camp in November.

The firm gives staff an extra couple of days’ holiday leave each year to do charity work.

First job

‘I worked in a surf shop. It was okay,’ says Bennett. ‘I think I was 14 at the time and I worked Saturdays and Sundays. I spent all my money on clothes.

‘I also used to work in a magistrates court in my summer holidays while I was studying, dealing with angry people with parking tickets and speeding fines.’

Retirement plans

‘I’d probably go sailing around the world or something like that,’ says Bennett.

‘There are so many places I’d like to go to, but I’d like to go to South America in particular.’

Lavinia MacDonald, paraplanner, Cameron and Company Financial Planning

The route to becoming a chartered financial planner is a long and winding one, but Lavinia MacDonald, paraplanner at Malvern-based Cameron and Company Financial Planning, is undeterred and is putting her efforts into achieving the accolade. She says the achievement would be a significant milestone for her.

Starting out as a mortgage and insurance administrator, she gained experience of talking to clients, explaining the process of selling endowment policies, and later processing delegate packs and looking into legal aspects of policy sales.

Career change

She says a presentation by Jason Lloyd, then a director at Malvern-based LSA Financial Services, provided the catalyst for her 2006 move into financial planning. ‘He was so passionate about financial services and I was immediately captivated,’ she says.

After finding out what the exams entailed and what experience was needed for the role, MacDonald decided to start out on a new career path.

In her current role, her duties include speaking to clients and dealing with their questions, report writing and submission of new business.

‘I enjoy the contact with clients and helping them make sense of a complicated industry,’ she says. ‘It can be frustrating when you see all sorts of jargon for clients, and I wonder how they are expected to make sense of it.’

Study path

MacDonald has been devoting plenty of time to her exams, and is 20 points away from achieving the Level 4 diploma, which she aims to complete in April. She also plans to take the advanced diploma exams, and will later take exams for investments, tax and trusts, pensions and advanced pensions.

‘That’s my long-term plan,’ she says.

Outside of work, she is a keen gardener and crafter. She makes special occasion cards for friends and family, and wedding invitations.

Charity work

‘When I have extras of the cards I make, we sell them at the reception of the local opticians, where my mother-in-law works,’ says MacDonald.

‘The cards are sold as part of charity events, organised by businesses in the Barnards Green area, with proceeds going to charities helping people with impaired vision, such as Blind Children UK.'

First job

‘I had a summer job in Romania, working with a team of scientists who were researching pesticides,’ says MacDonald.

‘There were four or five of us in a team and we had to collect bunches from different plants. It was very hot in the summer, but thankfully we finished every day by 2pm.’

Retirement plans

‘I’d like to do a lot of travelling and have enough money to see the world,’ says MacDonald. ‘I’d love to see Russia and Italy due to their rich history.

‘And if I was able to retire really early, I’d love to do some charity work, perhaps in Africa.’

Anthony Vasiliou, trainee financial planner, Goodmans Financial Planning

Anthony Vasiliou’s journey into advice began when he knocked on the door of Plymouth-based Goodmans Financial Planning as a history graduate in 2015.

Vasiliou had kept an open mind about career options until a conversation with his uncle, a retired IFA, sparked an interest in the field.

‘I spoke to him about what the job entailed and it really appealed to me,’ says Vasiliou. ‘I decided to do a masters in finance at Oxford Brookes [university] as I didn’t have any financial background. Then I came back to Plymouth and looked for IFA firms online and I found Goodmans which really stood out.’

Proactive approach

When Vasiliou introduced himself to the firm, Goodmans, which is run by Andrew Moore (pictured), was not hiring. However, Vasiliou's proactive approach appealed to the firm.

‘[The team] had a chat about it and thought it might be good to bring me in for the week to see how I got on,’ he says.

His trainee financial planner role combines back-office work, provider liaison, adviser shadowing and studying for the R0 exams towards the diploma in financial planning.

Learning curve

‘It’s a different kind of studying to what I’m used to,’ says Vasiliou. ‘Studying history was more about analysing arguments and theories and how you interpret sources, but this is learning lots of facts so it’s quite different,’ he says.

Vasiliou says he is now looking forward to the job satisfaction that comes with helping clients plan their future. ‘Making sure the client enjoys themselves while they can and that they have no re-grets is priceless,’ he says.

Outside of the office, Vasiliou enjoys attending gigs and playing his electric guitar.

Charity work

‘We sponsor and take part in the Longbow Canoe Festival in Totnes,’ says Vasiliou.

‘Totnes Rotary supports lots of different charities and our chosen charity is the Exeter Leukaemia Fund. We are due to take part again in July 2016.’

First Job

‘My very first job was in McDonalds,’ says Vasiliou. ‘I’d just finished my A-levels and took a gap year as I wanted to save money to travel.

‘I worked for around eight months and then went travelling around Asia and Australia. The travel-ling was more fun than the work.

Retirement plans

‘I really love Barcelona and would love to learn Spanish,’ says Vasiliou. ‘I’d like a flat in Barcelona where I could live four or five months of the year to escape British winters.

‘My parents went on a Caribbean cruise and they couldn’t stop talking about it so that sounds good too.’

Tristan Hartey, managing director, Hartey Wealth Management

A window into the world of finance was opened to Tristan Hartey by his father, Karl Hartey, who had been running his own financial planning firm for around 25 years.

‘I graduated from the University of Leeds in 2011, aged 21, not having a job and my dad said “Okay, come and give this a go”,’ says Hartey.

Tristan and Karl joined forces in 2014 to set up Chester-based Hartey Wealth Management.

At just 26 years old, Tristan acts as managing director and oversees the everyday running of the business while advising clients alongside his father, who is non-executive chairman at the firm.

‘People occasionally comment on how young I am, but a lot of clients quite like it because I’m not tarnished with the previous sins of the industry,’ says Hartey.

Running into the future

He may be heading up a firm at a young age, but Tristan keeps his leadership skills polished and attends events such as The Strategic Coach course for entrepreneurs, where he discusses business with contemporaries.

Hartey Wealth Management recently opened a second office in Oswestry, but is checking its ambitions. ‘We don’t want 1,000 clients; 300 to 400 is where we’d like to be,’ says Hartey.

To any young person thinking of joining the profession, Tristan recommends the paraplanner route. ‘If you start off as a paraplanner, you will develop the technical skills you need to transfer to an adviser role.’

Tristan enjoys running marathons, and in his spare time travels the UK and abroad to find ideal spots for running, hiking and climbing.

Charity work

‘I ran the Edinburgh Marathon for The Charlotte Hartey Foundation, which helps fund activities so that local causes and community groups can achieve their dreams,’ says Hartey.

First job

‘I was a television extra on Hollyoaks,’ says Hartey. ‘I went to Liverpool once a month and normally had to do something embarrassing in the background.’

Retirement plans

‘I’d like to retire and run a vineyard somewhere in Tuscany where the weather is better and life is a bit slower,’ says Hartey.

Chris Scott, account executive, JM Independent Financial Advisers

Many people ‘fall’ into financial services and this is the case with Chris Scott, who stumbled into finance 20 years ago. Scott is definitely here to stay, though, and he joined Edinburgh-based JM Independent Financial Advisers as an account executive in January.

‘I started out at Standard Life and planned to go travelling, but you get sucked in,’ says Scott.

After 10 years at Standard Life and stints in protection roles with Aegon and AIG, Scott wondered where to go next.

‘Dealing with advisers was the last thing I wanted to keep doing, so I thought I might as well become one,’ he says.

Protective perspective

Scott supports managing director James McLaughlin, whom he met at a football match nearly 20 years ago.

Noting the jump from provider to adviser, Scott says: ‘I’ve moved from an environment of being looked after by a multi-national company to now ultimately working for myself and James in a room with two people.’

Despite the shift, Scott hopes to go out and meet some of McLaughlin’s clients towards the end of the year, and is looking forward to using his previous knowledge to offer new services to clients.

‘My background is protection so I still want people to be protected. There are a lot of areas I think we could do more work on, such as employee benefits,’ says Scott. ‘It’s what I’ve known for the past 10 years so it’s difficult not to put my protection head on.’

Outside of the office Scott enjoys attending festivals and spending time with his wife and children.

Charity work

‘Jimmy [James McLaughlin] sponsors a local football team called Spartans and a bowls team called Aberlady Bowling Club,’ says Scott. ‘He likes to do his bit for the community.’

First job

‘I picked fruit in Queensland for a week when I travelled to Australia,’ says Scott. ‘I had to wake up at 3am to pick tomatoes and I think I earned around $50 (£25) a week. I don’t mention that job on my LinkedIn profile!’

Retirement plans

‘I’d love to live abroad and maybe buy a wee villa in Portugal and split my time between there and Edinburgh,’ says Scott. ‘I’m not sure what my clients would think when they noticed the tan though.’

Nick Rippon, financial adviser, Rippon Financial Management

A last minute change of heart kick-started Nick Rippon’s career in financial advice. ‘I was all set to go to university,’ he says. ‘I was going to study business but I didn’t really have a career in mind.’

Instead of going to university, Rippon joined his father’s firm, Gateshead-based Rippon Financial Management, with a view to gaining a couple of years’ work experience. 10 years later, Rippon has found his feet as a financial adviser and is chartered aged 28.

With the age gap between himself and the majority of clients in mind, Rippon sees big benefits in holding chartered status. ‘Having that credential immediately puts clients at ease at that initial stage when they may be slightly hesitant because of the age gap.’

Rippon stresses that it should not be a barrier. ‘It isn’t the age gap that’s the issue, it’s the stage of life,’ he says. ‘You need to shut that gap down immediately because as long as you can understand the position they’re in and their options going forward, it’s easier for them to understand that you don’t necessarily have to be from the same generation to provide advice.’

Driving ahead

Rippon says that he, like many, ‘fell into the profession’ and feels more could be done to attract new entrants. With clear paths into soliciting and accounting, he hopes that the same can eventually be said for financial advice. ‘We need to create entry points for potential young advisers who don’t see a way in or don’t even know it exists,’ he says.

‘There are going to be so many people looking for financial advisers and advice is only getting more complex but it’s our responsibility to put ourselves on the map.’

Rippon sees a bright future at the firm and is looking forward to pursuing more exams through the Chartered Institute of Investment & Securities. ‘I’m lucky enough to be in a business that has grown itself and is pushing forward.

‘I’ve found my feet as an adviser and I want to continue to enjoy it and just keep building relationships,’ he says.

First job

‘I worked in a restaurant three or four nights a week before I started working here,’ says Rippon. ‘I came straight here from school so I didn’t benefit from a summer holiday that year!’

Retirement plans

‘I’ve never thought about my retirement plans even though I deal with it on a daily basis for my clients,’ says Rippon. ‘I’d spend time abroad, probably in Italy where I went with my wife for our honeymoon.’

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